Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Screen Shots

Update 7/10/2015:
All instructions and mentions of Gadwin Print Screen in this article refer to version 4.7 of this program, by now (July 2015) an "old" version. I still install this old version 4.7 on my customer's computers because it is easier to handle than the new version(s). Newer versions have more functionality and behave differently. These instructions are invalid for newer versions.

I admit it, I do read manuals; well, "read" maybe is too strong indeed but at least I glance them over as to get a good idea what the underlying gadget is about. Often I find an overview chapter or the like and THAT I usually really read.

Why am I telling this here? Because it puzzles me to see that computer users of many years all too often don't even know about such a basic thing as how to take a screen shot which is a total or partial image of what you see on the computer's monitor.

There is an actually fairly complicated MS Windows method but it falls quite a bit short of being comfortable and easy to remember.

There are quite a few decent free programs out there to help avoid the quirky Windows method. Some years ago I favored a small program called MWSnap. By now it has been superseded by Gadwin Print Screen.

If I set up your computer fairly recently you should already have this program running and set up as described below. Check your system tray for this little icon: 

Rest your mouse cursor on this icon and it will tell you “To capture Image …”. From a right click on this little icon you can directly select Help and the Help system for this program will come up where you find all other information about it.Once installed Gadwin Print Screen sits quietly in the background and waits for you to push the PrintScreen key on your keyboard. Depending on easy to accomplish settings in the program it will do what you told it to. It either captures the
  • Current Window
  • Client Window
  • Full Screen or a
  • Rectangular area.
I strongly favor the last option. With a simple click, drag and right click I can capture any part of the screen, overlapping windows, just anything.
The output file format should be set to PNG; this is my favorite format for this purpose because files are relatively small, decent to good quality and any image processor can handle PNG. Output files get by default consecutively numbered and stored in My Documents\PrintScreenFiles.

The program is easy to use, unobtrusive, has good documentation and it's FREE. Beat that combination. It works on XP, Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 10. You find it’s Help after you double click (open) the little tray icon; in the program window click Help and voila, there you are.

Updated Jan 20th 2017:
You once could download it from here but the version I am talking about is no longer available for downloading on the manufacturer's web site, likely since quite a while already. See below after Download,
Ignore the immediately following!
  Please scroll down until you find the entry for the free version; it looks like this: As usual what you download is an installer program; run the installer and GadwinPrintScreen will be installed. Once it runs okay please don't forget to delete the installer.

Download: (added 12/7/2017): I found a (today!) working download link for the old version 4.7. This will download a ZIP file (a compressed archive). Let it open and copy the Setup file to your desktop. Close the ZIP file display. Run the setup program and then set the program up like described below. Good luck and NO GUARANTEES.

Start the program by double clicking the new "Gadwin Print Screen" icon and set
  • Preferences to Preview the captured image,
    no notification messages,
    no splash (screen) on startup and
    Run at Windows startup
  • Source to Rectangular Area
  • Image to Image file type PNG
This is exactly the way I usually set it up on my customer's computers.

After these settings I delete the program icon and the downloaded installer program from the desktop and/or the Downloads folder respectively..

As usual I welcome comments and suggestions right here in the blog. Thank you in advance.

Stay safe!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

PDF Files on the Web

Imagine you are on the Internet, browsing away and enjoying yourself. You come to a place where the web page offers you a PDF file. BTW, PDF stands for Portable Document Format, an invention of a company with the name Adobe. Years ago there was only one program around to show the contents of PDF files, the Adobe Reader. That situation has changed massively; we have various good PDF readers available. Most of them are smaller than Adobe Reader, much faster and many good ones are free. On top of that eventual errors or shortcomings usually get corrected MUCH faster than Adobe does it. You can read more about that here.

If you want to read that piece of documentation you either get to see the document and all is hunky dory. But on some web sites you get an idiotic error message to the effect that the system can not find Adobe Reader and you should install it. Bummer!

You happen to be on a very dumb programmed web site. Even HP does that if you want a manual from their support site.

What a web site should do is send the PDF file to the browser who then shows it to you in whatever PDF Reader you have installed on your computer. You should have a good one installed! See the article I linked to above and below.

What your web site actually tries to do is to directly load Acrobat Reader with the PDF file. That is nonsense and only understandable in a historic context; way back when there were no alternatives. There are plenty of reasons to shun Adobe Acrobat Reader. I wrote here about recent ones.

Here is what you can do to circumvent this problem:
  1. Right click on the link to the PDF file.
  2. Click on Save Link As...
  3. Navigate to a location you know and can find again.
  4. Check the file name and amend it if required.
  5. Click on OK (or Save?).
  6. Navigate to the file and double click it.

This sounds more difficult than it is but it is the secure way - and you have the document on your computer.

As usual I welcome comments and suggestions right here in the blog.

Thank you in advance.