Monday, 4 July 2011

Week 3, Thing 5: Screenshots - no more tears.

Sometimes we want to use fantastic pictures in our blog posts, something that really encapsulates what we're saying

When that's what you want, something fantastic from flickr usually does the trick. Sometimes we have to depict things that are a little more mundane, like showing how your iGoogle looks, so how do we make the decidedly un-wow a little bit more, well, wow?

Screenshots, they're simple, eh?

It's true they are as simple as you want to make them. At the most basic level you can hit Shift + Print Screen, open MS Paint (other products are available...), Ctrl +V, edit, save your picture then upload it onto your blog. Simples, as the talking meerkat says. Simples indeed, but also incredibly faffy, especially if you have to do a lot of them and the quality can be poor. The solution is to try something a little more sophisticated.

LightShot- the little black dress of addons

Whenever I install a browser I like to pimp it with all my must have addons. Some of these work very hard for me, others decide how pages will display, one even keeps me on the light side by replacing content from the Daily Mail with pictures of tea and kittens. But if I had to strip it down to a handful of must-have addons, Lightshot is my irresistible little black dress- simple yet sophisticated.

A screenshot of my simples image search

LightShot is available as an addon for Firefox and Chrome, it appears as a purple feather in the corner of your toolbar. When you want to take a screenshot simply click the feather. The screen will grey slightly, which is your cue to click and drag to surround your subject. Release the mouse button and your screenshot is confirmed. From there you have a handful of options:

  • Save your shot to your computer
  • Copy the shot
  • Edit it there and then
  • Print your shot
  • Upload it to the web to share
Using LightShot is quick and easy- ideal if you are taking lots of screenshots, and the nature of the tool means you can select just the area you want to show, saving all that fiddly editing in MS Paint.
Selecting just one image from my search
Saving the images to your computer is the ideal way to use LightShot to add screenshots to your blog; you can also choose from a range of web-friendly formats, meaning you'll never have to settle for that grainy bitmap ever again. If you want to save screenshots or text/images you've clipped from the web, you can use the quick share twitter and Facebook options, or upload it to the Lightshot page where your image is given a unique URL.
Wait, there's more?

There sure is! LightShot is available as a stand alone utility that you can download directly onto your desktop. As well as capturing and manipulating images from the web, you can take a screenshot of anything on your desktop, save it and use it as a standard image object. That means you can place it in an email, shrink it for a Word document, or invert it in a slide show. Again, simples. Check out this video to see how easy it is.

If you haven't yet added screenshots to your post, why not try the LightShot addon for your browser. And if your appetite has been whetteted there's a whole range of free image capture tools for everything from simgle images to video.

This is just the tip of the iceberg for browser tools, skins, addons and extensions. You can find everything you need to 'pimp your broswer' here- Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari, Opera. Take some time to explore and share!


  1. I've missed a stage, obviously. I downloaded & installed LightShot, & it now has an icon on my start menu. But clicking on that icon, or even double-clicking on that icon, simply causes the start menu to disappear. How do I get LightShot to do something?

  2. Ah - have succeeded in downloading LightShot as a Firefox add-on, & will expt w. that. If the stand-alone version has no use, I can always uninstall.

  3. I haven't tried the desktop version yet, but the video seems to suggest you need to press the print screen button and then LightShot will do it's fancy thing of letting you select the area you want to take a shot of. Will give the desktop version a try tonight and have a play, maybe someone else can be more help in the meantime!

  4. I'm a regular user of the browser add-on, but I did download the stand-alone application to give it a whirl. As Annie suggests all you have to do is press Print Screen to start up the application.

    I ran it on Windows 7 and used it to take shots of my browser and my desktop. If I can be of any further help Aidan, feel free to drop me an email.

  5. Tnx, yes, I'll do that when I get home, & report on the results.