Scans and Screenshots


How to screen capture

Want to create an image of what you’re looking at on your computer screen? Take a screenshot — also known as a screen capture or screengrab. Screenshots are useful for displaying the immediate contents on your monitor, whether you’re working on the Web or in a document. You can make an image of the entire screen or just a section.

PC Method 1: SnagIt

SnagIt is a program that allows you to do a variety of screengrabs as well as basic image editing, like adding text and arrows, or sending it to another program on your computer. It displays instructions during the screen-capture process to help guide you if you’re unsure of what step to take next.

  1. To get to SnagIt, go to the Start menu > Programs > SnagIt 9 > Snagit 9.
  2. When it opens, choose the type of screenshot you want beneath the capture profiles list. Hit the red “Capture” button and then navigate to the window or area you want to capture.
    1. Region – Lets you use the cursor to select a specific section of the screen. Click and drag the cursor to create a red rectangle around the space you want.
    2. Window – Highlight the window you want (it’s easiest if you already have it up and just behind SnagIt) and left-click to capture it.
    3. Full screen – Takes a shot of the whole screen that’s up immediately behind the SnagIt window.
    4. Scrolling window (web page) – This creates an image of the entire contents of a window, including parts you could only view when you scroll down or over.
  3. SnagIt lobs the screengrab into SnagIt Editor, at which point you can edit and flag it (SnagIt’s version of tagging). However you manipulate the image, be sure to save it by going to the SnagIt button or clicking the Save icon in the upper-left-hand corner.

PC Method 2: PrintScreen key

If you don’t have SnagIt, another option is to just go the PrintScreen route. In the upper-right-hand corner of your PC keyboard is the PrintScreen key.

  1. Arrange your screen the way you want it.
  2. Hit the PrintScreen key. Whatever was on your screen is copied to the Clipboard.
  3. Open an image editing program (e.g., Microsoft Paint, Adobe Photoshop, GIMP) or a program that supports images (e.g., Micrisoft Word or PowerPoint). Open a new document and paste (either Edit > Paste or Ctrl + V) the image onto the document.
  4. Save it.

Mac Method 1: Grab

  1. Grab is in the Utilities folder, and can be accessed several ways, including:
    1. Spotlight (click the Spotlight icon in the upper-right-hand corner of the Menu Bar) > Type in “Grab” > Click on the application when it comes up.
    2. Macintosh HD > Applications (look on the left-hand side) > Utilities > Grab
  2. Your screen will look the same but you’ll see the Grab icon active the Dock at the bottom of your screen. You’ll also see the Grab menu bar at the top of the screen.
  3. On the menu bar, click Capture, which gives you four options:
    1. Selection – Lets you use the cursor to select a specific section of the screen. Click and drag the cursor to create a red rectangle around the space you want.
    2. Window – Click “Choose Window” and then click on the window you want to capture.
    3. Screen – Clicking anywhere outside the dialogue box will capture the whole screen.
    4. Timed Screen – Gives you a 10-second delay before doing the capture, allowing you some time to set something up (like a drop-down menu) for the image.
  4. After taking the screenshot, the image will appear on the screen, at which point you can either save it (Grab automatically saves it as a TIFF file) or discard it.
  5. To convert the TIFF file into a different type of image format, open the image in Preview, go to File > Save As and pick the format you want.

Mac Method 2: Keyboard shortcuts

  1. To capture the entire screen: Shift + Command + 3.
  2. To capture a section: Shift + Command + 4.

The image is saved as a PNG file on your desktop. To convert it to a different type of image format, open the image in Preview, go to File > Save As and pick the format you want.

Why create PDFs

Portable Document File (PDF) is a format that can be read by any type of operating system (PC, Mac, Unix). They are generally small files, which make them easy to e-mail as attachments. They preserve a document’s original formatting, so there aren’t any surprises when recipients view them. A big disadvantage, however, is that PDFs can be hard to edit.

There are two types of PDFs: Native PDFs and scanned PDFS. Native PDFs are created from electronic documents like DOC, PPT or JPG files. Scanned PDFs come from scans of actual printed material. To make PDFs on PCs, you need Adobe Acrobat Pro. Newer Macs already have PDF-creating capability. (The IT Lab computers are all already equipped.)

Acrobat Reader vs. Acrobat Pro

So what’s the difference between the two? Acrobat Reader is a free downloadable program from Adobe that allows you to simply view PDF files. Acrobat Pro, on the other hand, retails for $449 and not only allows you to read PDFs, but also create and edit them. There are some open-source alternatives listed below.  

Option 1: exporting a file as a PDF from its original program

If it’s a Word document you want to convert to PDF, open the file in Word.

  • File > Save As. Beside “Format,” choose “PDF.” Save.
  • An alternate route is: File > Print. Beside “Printer,” choose “Adobe PDF.” Select where you want to the resulting PDF to be saved. Print.

Note: This process pretty much applies to any Microsoft Office document. Open the file in its native application and export it as a PDF through the Save As or Print command.

Option 2: converting from Preview (on a Mac)

This tends to only work with image files. Open the image in Preview, go to File > Save As and pick “PDF” as the format you want. Save.

Option 3: using Adobe Acrobat Pro

  1. Open Adobe Acrobat Pro. On the splash screen that comes up, choose “Create PDF.”
    1. Create from a file – Choose the file, then save the PDF that results.
    2. Create from multiple files – Pick the files you want and arrange them in the order you want. (Note: An easy way to deal with multiple files is the “Folder” option, which lets you drag a folder into the dialogue window to convert all the files inside the folder to PDF.) Choose file size and conversion settings. Click “Next.” Then tell Acrobat whether you want one big PDF or if you want a package of separate PDF files. Click “Create.”
    3. Create from scanner – Choose the scanner. Put the document in the scanner. Adjust the settings. Click “Scan” and save PDF.
    4. Create from a web site – Enter the URL, adjust PDF settings and save PDF.

Software alternatives

  • PDF Creator - Create PDF files from nearly any Windows application. You can print or e-mail those PDFs, merge PDFs, encrypt them, lock them (prevent them from being opened or printed). Use it to create other types of files, including PNG, JPG, TIFF, BMP.
  • PDF Printer - Works as a Microsoft Windows printer, letting you create PDF documents from Windows applications. Allows you to configure quality settings and document properties, insert watermarks as well as export documents in a variety of formats, including BMP, JPG and TIF. (PC only)
  • OpenOffice - An open-source substitute to Microsoft Office, the Open Office suite includes software for word processing, HTML editing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, math equations, databases and built-in PDF export – all in a single interface.

Additional PDF resources from the IT Lab

Last updated April 9, 2009