THE BASIC SHOT: To get a picture of your entire screen, press the
CURRENT WINDOW ONLY: To capture just the currently active window, follow the steps described above, but this time press
SAVE DISK SPACE: The .bmp format is a disk hog. If you want to save memory and maintain image quality, right-click on your desktop and choose Properties. Click the Settings tab. From the 'Colors' or 'Color palette' drop-down list, select a lower level of colour for your monitor - for example, 256 Colours if you're currently using High Colour (16 bit). The lower the number of colours you choose, the smaller the file Paint will create. Click OK, and follow any prompts to complete the process. If the elements you want to capture still look good, take your picture. If not, increase the video colour level to the minimum necessary to get a good shot. When you're finished, you can return your video system to its normal colour level.
SAVE MORE WITH FRONTPAGE EXPRESS: If you don't mind sacrificing a little bit of quality, you can reduce file size even further without adjusting your video settings by using FrontPage Express, which is included in Windows 98. Use
Unfortunately, in converting the image into a compressed .jpg file, FrontPage Express significantly lowers image quality. For more control, you could create the picture in Paint as previously described and then drag the .bmp file into a new FrontPage Express document. Right-click the picture and choose Image Properties. In the General tab, select GIF or JPEG; for JPEG, you can specify a quality level from 1 to 100 (see FIGURE 2). Lower numbers yield smaller files, but higher numbers provide better quality. Click OK and then save the file, following the steps described above. This technique won't work for pictures pasted directly into FrontPage Express, however. The pasting process irreversibly alters the pixels, which reduces the quality of the image.
Capture screens like a pro
Now in its fifth major release, SnagIt is a veteran Windows shareware screen capture utility with features for the professional but ease of use for the rest of us. SnagIt 5 simplifies capturing static images from your computer. The program can record screen actions as a video, and captures text screens to a text file, including text that has scrolled off the screen. SnagIt 5 has an Explorer-like utility for browsing images as thumbnails, and a retouching utility for adding callouts and other enhancements to your pictures. It's well worth the $US40 registration fee. Download an evaluation version of SnagIt from our cover CD or from the developer's Web site at www.techsmith.com.