DON'S FREEWARE CORNER - DEC 2017

THE SCREEN CAPTURE PROGRAM FASTSTONE CAPTURE

2017 Donald R. Snow - This page was last updated 2017-12-09.
These Freeware Corner notes are published in TAGGology, our Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group (UVTAGG) monthly newsletter. They are also posted on my Freeware Corner Notes page on http://uvtagg.org/classes/dons/dons-classes.html where the links are active and there may be corrections and additions, as well as other related notes and articles.

SCREEN CAPTURE PROGRAMS

There are lots of screen capture programs and many are free.  People have their favorites for various reasons and this note will discuss FASTSTONE CAPTURE, the one I like and why.  The last free version was 5.3 and is still available from various websites, including  http://www.oldapps.com/fast_stone_capture.php?old_fscapture=17 .   To find other websites for this version Google "faststone capture 5.3" (without the quotes).  After version 5.3, it became shareware which means you can try it out and if you like it and want to continue to use it, you are morally obligated to send a $20 one-time contribution.  I used the free version for many years and then paid the one-time fee a few years ago, so now I can use all the later versions.  The current version is 8.7 and is available from  http://www.faststone.org/  and works with new programs, including Windows 10, with no problems.  The program will copy and/or print anything that you can see on your computer screen, e.g. photographs, census records, websites, scrolling windows, pedigree charts, family groups, etc.

CAPTURE MODES, INCLUDING SCROLLING WINDOWS

After installation, when you click to run the program, a small "floating" panel appears with several icons.  Because the panel is floating you can move it anywhere you want and I usually keep it in the upper right corner of my screen, out of the way, but easily accessible.  Most of the icons in the panel are capture modes, but the two icons furthest to the right contain options for settings and for where you want the file to be saved or edited.  The capture modes include capturing the full screen, the active window only, a rectangular area that you select, a freehand outlined selection, and an entire scrolling window.  This last feature is not in most screen capture programs and is one of the reasons I like this one.  To capture a scrolling screen click the icon with the down arrow and then click in the top of the scrolling window you want to capture.  It starts at the top and you see it scroll the screen down all the way to the bottom.  At the end it stops and asks you the format, name, and location you want to save the file.  You can stop it anywhere along the way going down the scroll by clicking ESC and you then only capture the part of the scrolling window down that far.  I have used this to capture and save scrolling windows that are a hundred pages long.

FILE TYPES TO SAVE IN

The purpose for saving the screenshot determines the format to save it in.  Most screenshot programs will only allow saving in jpg, tif, or png, which are the standard image types.  FASTSTONE CAPTURE will also allow saving anything in pdf.  For screenshots of pictures I usually use jpg or tif, but if there is text, I usually use pdf.  FASTSTONE CAPTURE allows you to specify the resolution you want, as well.  I save screenshots of scrolled windows as pdfs since the result is their actual size with scroll bars on the side much like the original.  Saving scrolled windows as jpgs or tifs yields tall skinny images that aren't readable without enlarging.  Also, with text in pdfs, I can run the freeware program PDF-XChangeEditor to OCR (Optical Character Recognize) the text and make them every-word searchable.  PDF-XChangeEditor is available from  https://www.tracker-software.com/product/pdf-xchange-editor  and the OCR program is built into the free version.   I have used this to OCR scrolled window pdfs of hundreds of pages.

If you have images that need converting to other formats, there are free programs that will do it, e.g. IRFANVIEW will convert a jpg to a pdf, if that's what you need, or vice versa.  IRFANVIEW is free and available from  http://www.irfanview.com/ .  It is a good image program with lots of features, including batch-mode conversion of a collection of image files from one format to another. 

DESTINATIONS OF SAVED SCREENSHOTS

FASTSTONE CAPTURE has options to save the file to several other programs directly, e.g. the built-in Editor, your email program, MS Word, Powerpoint, Excel, the clipboard, and several other locations.   Saving to the Editor will be discussed below.  It can also save the screenshot to the clipboard, if you want to paste it somewhere.  It has an option to send the file directly to the printer, if you want it printed directly, and this sometimes gives better prints than the original program would.

All options have keyboard shortcuts and these are shown in the floating panel.  There are shortcuts that tell FASTSTONE CAPTURE to save the images without having to use the mouse and you can set it to include or exclude the mouse cursor in the screenshot.  You can use it to do a sequence of screen captures where it names the files automatically, so you don't have to stop and name the files yourself each time, or you can have it stop and ask you what to name and where to save each file.  Another helpful option is a sound that plays when it does a capture, so you know it has done the screenshot.

ADDING CAPTIONS

When the option to add captions is turned on, after you capture an image, it gives you a box to fill in to caption the image and will embed that caption at the top or bottom, whichever you select.  This allows describing exactly what the screenshot is, where it came from, the website, date, etc.  The caption option allows you to use text and different fonts and the captions are embedded in the image at the bottom or top, etc.

FASTSTONE CAPTURE EDITOR

The built-in image editor is very helpful and screenshots can be saved directly to it or you can open other images in it.  This Editor allows editing the file, adding captions later, and several other things.  There is also an excellent freeware image viewer, FASTSTONE IMAGE VIEWER, available from the website  http://www.faststone.org/ , but I usually use the PHOTO AND FAX VIEWER in Windows or else IRFANVIEW from  http://www.irfanview.com/ .  It has both installed and portable versions.  The portable version allows you to use it on a flashdrive at a FHC, for example, and you can save the captured images to your flashdrive to take home.

SIDE-BY-SIDE IMAGES

The current version of FASTSTONE CAPTURE has a feature that I just discovered in preparing this Freeware Corner note, an easy way to include several images side-by-side.  For example, if you have several columns of a newspaper article and want to place them next to each other, click on the right-most icon on the floating panel and then Join Images Side by Side.  This opens a window in which to open images, or drag-and-drop them there, and then arrange them in the order you want, and form a single image with all the included images side by side.  These can be horizontal or stacked vertically.  I've been looking for an easy way to do this for some time, so I can put newspaper articles together easily.

MISCELLANEOUS

FASTSTONE CAPTURE has many other things built-in.  For example, it has a Magnifier that can be used to magnify parts of the screen.  The options to set the Magnifier include its size and magnification and you can put an icon on the floating panel so clicking it opens the Magnifier at the mouse cursor to move that around to magnify parts of the screen you want.  Then clicking again, turns it off.  T he new versions contain a Screen Recorder that records a video of the screen in WMV format.  There is a means of annotating images with various diagrams to highlight parts.  It has a Ruler that can be turned and moved around the screen to show the number of pixels between locations.  Other options include Acquiring Images from a Scanner and Converting Images to pdfs.  The Help menu is accessible by pressing F1 or by clicking on the Settings icon on the floating panel. 

CONCLUSIONS

This is a very useful screen capture program.  Since I use it so much, I have the icon for it pinned to my Taskbar at the bottom of my computer screen.  You can pin the icon to the Taskbar by right-clicking it when the program is running.  There are many items that I find online that I want to keep pictures of and this program allows me to do that easily.
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