Vista’s built-in utility for screen shots is just perfect for most people. If you haven’t found it yet, click on the Start button, type in Snip, and click on Snipping Tool. It’s got all the basic tools to capture an entire window or a region, add some simple annotations, and do something interesting with it – send it by email, save it as a JPG, or put it on the clipboard so you can paste it into another program. Here’s my thoughts about the snipping tool, and here’s an explanation and some tips from Microsoft.

My computer has decided it doesn’t like the snipping tool. About half the time I get this message:

snippingtoolerror

As always, there are lots of people online with the same problem and the usual mishmash of advice and abuse and digressions. For many people, the problem can be cured at least temporarily by running “Office Diagnostics” from the Options / Resources menu in an Office 2007 program. No one seems quite sure why that works. It worked for me sometimes but it never lasted and I couldn’t find a permanent fix.

I tried an inexpensive screen clipping program, Window Clippings, which worked fine but left me unsatisfied. It was kind of uninspiring – each thing I looked into wasn’t quite as elegant or simple as I was hoping, and all the dialogs said “Kenny Kerr’s Window Clippings,” which looked silly. I know, that’s not a big deal, but I kept looking at “Kenny Kerr” and wishing it didn’t say that. What can I tell you? I’m shallow.

So I revisited a name I hadn’t looked at for years, SnagIt, screen capture software that was first used on adding machines, or possibly abacuses, I think. It’s been around forever.

It’s expensive, $49.95 (free 30 day trial), and just wonderful. While I wasn’t looking, SnagIt turned into a beautiful, full-featured office application. There are a variety of ways to capture screen shots – all the ones you’d expect plus a few you might not think of, like capturing an entire web page including the part that is scrolled off screen. An editor opens up to work with the snips with many of the features of a full-fledged graphics program, so it’s a single click to add shadows, pointers, annotations, or more. It’s a very pretty design and I’m finding the controls to be thoughtfully laid out and intuitive.

I’m going to pay the money and send you all screen shots bristling with arrows and circles, just because I can.

SnagIt Editor