Many times I have been asked what kinds of software I use to do various things for the blog, especially things like videos, screen captures, audio recording, and all that sort of stuff.  One thing that I’ve never really talked about is screen captures…not the videos but actual still shots of things as seen directly on my screen.  There are many programs available to do this, some paid for, and some open-sourced, with some being Mac or Windows specific, and a few scattering that cross both platforms.

Well, today, I am going to give a little nod to a Windows-only program, called Printkey.  Specifically titled PrintKey2000, and under specific note that this is a freeware program (meaning it is not supported – to use at your own risk.)  While I have never had problems with it, the mentality of “let the buyer beware” should always be a consideration when downloading applications, especially freeware.

Those in Apple-land know that there are keyboard shortcuts to do a screen capture of either your entire viewing area, or a specific window, and these can either be copied to the clipboard memory for inserting in an application like Photoshop, or saved outright to your desktop.  While in Windows you can always use the Printscreen and ALT+Printscreen to copy either a full screen or active window to your clipboard, the ability to save directly to your desktop does not exist natively.  Instead, you have to capture the screen to memory, paste into an image editor, and save out as a JPG if you want to use it.  What PrintKey does is fill that void of directly saving to the desktop.  This is especially handy if capturing things for posting in a blog, in creating documentation, and other useful learning resource outlets.

To use Printkey, simply download the free application from here, run the executable, and let the program start in your system tray.  The entire packaged zip file is half a megabyte, so the footprint is super for those that are space conscious.  Here’s a capture of the software itself in action (don’t ask me how I got it – that took a few minutes to figure out!  LOL):

Printkey200o Interface

While there are many features wrapped up in this handy little application, the ones I use most often are the Save, Rectangle, Print, and then the dialog screen at the bottom of the screen (click the image above to see a larger view).  These should be pretty straightforward to those who are familiar with the concepts, but here we go regardless:

  • Save – saves the current capture to an image file…you can specify whatever format you prefer (jpg gif, etc.)
  • Rectangle – gives you a + sign that you can drag and drop around a custom area for capturing only part of your desktop
  • Print – sends the captured image to your printer…(hope that was explanatory enough)

The last one is the bottm details area…I am talking about this little section here:


It’s very handy because it will tell you the dimensions of the image, how large the file is in terms of storage space on your computer, and how much free memory is left out of the total memory.  While some many not need all this info, the geek in me likes to have this!

So, there you have it, Printkey2000 in action.  I feel that I should also mention another really good counterpart and that is the program, SnagIt from the folks over at TechSmith.  With that handy application, you can not only capture images on both Windows and Mac, but you can edit them on the fly, including inserting text, arrows to call out an area, and other fun stuff.  Alas, it’s not free though – 30 day trial is allowed before you gotta cough up the $50! (Which for me is not worth it for something like this.  I have some friends that use other applications too, especially for video screen captures on both Mac and Windows platforms which include names like IShowU, Camtasia, and much more.  Here though, was just a little scoop on a little known application for the Windows crowd out there.

Got your own favorite little unknown program?  Have you used PrintKey?  Like it, love it or hate it?  Sound off in the comments as new little handy utilities are always welcome.  Happy shooting all and we’ll see you back here again tomorrow! 🙂

One last thing all – don’t forget the Height themed contest for the month of February – get your photos in while the gettin’ is good!  Deadline is a week from Friday!

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