In the days of DOS, screen printing was a quick way to transfer data off your screen and onto a piece of paper. But today, although the 'Print Screen' key still holds a permanent place on our collective keyboards, highly-advanced screenshot software may make it obsolete.
Show Me the Money
Let's start with dollar signs. The print screen key is 100 percent free, built into almost every computer keyboard and utilized by every operating system around. Screenshot (a.k.a. screen capture) software can cost anywhere from $15 to $80, depending on its options and capabilities.
Capturing a Screen
The screen print key does one of two things, with the Windows operating system it copies your whole screen to the clipboard (minus the mouse pointer), which you can then copy into another program. You can also hold down the 'Alt' key when you print the screen, which then will copy only your active window.
On the other hand, screenshot software can do much more than take a snapshot of your computer screen. With some programs, you can select specific items on your screen for capture, including buttons, icons and toolbars, Direct X Applications, text only, text from graphics, individual images and yes, even just the mouse pointer if you wish.
When dealing with web pages, it can take several hits on the print screen key to get the whole enchilada, whereas many of the latest screenshot software offer a scrolling capture, which scrolls down a web page or a document until it has a screenshot of the entire page. And with some programs, you can capture all of the graphics and text of a web page, simply by typing in the URL.
Once you have your screenshot, most screenshot software also comes with built-in photo editing tools so you can clean up and resize your captures and then save them in pretty much any format you need.
Color Values to Video Clips
Screenshot software can also do a few things the 'print screen' key can't do at all. By simply hovering your cursor over a color on your screen, the software can tell you its RGB color value.
You can also capture video clips with some software and, if you're a gaming enthusiast, you can capture screenshots of your favorite PC games, make notes on them and then email them to other gamers to boast an obtained level, show off a high score or even pass on game secrets.
For those out there that use dual monitors, screenshot software maximizes your capturing efficiency by allowing you to screen capture from multiple monitors.
So, unless you work directly with DOS data or still own and use a Commodore 64, screenshot software cannot only help you better capture data, but can open up a whole new world of possibilities.