It was announced a couple of years ago that the old Snipping Tool that was part of Windows was to be retired – in fact, it’s still there (following lots of user feedback, akin to the Save the Blibbet campaign) but its successor – the Snip & Sketch app – offers more functionality and is included with current versions of Windows 10. Invoking it with the WindowsKey+SHIFT+S is the quickest and simplest way to grab some or all of the screen, and if necessary, draw or annotate on it, save it as an image file and so on.
There are other screen capturing tools, of course – OneNote had a precursor feature which could be used to do much the same as Snip & Sketch, and even used the same shortcut key. OneNote makes such a great destination for screen grabs that the Clipping option is still there in the trad. version, and of course both variants can be the destination for something that’s been grabbed to the clipboard using Snip & Sketch.
There’s also the super-handy OneNote Web Clipper browser extension, which lets you grab web pages to add to your notebook with a couple of clicks.
Now the Edge browser is going to add some web capture capabilities natively – currently in testing and rolling out to a subset of Insiders, there will be a new menu option to grab a section of a page, including the ability to scroll down the page while capturing (rather than just grabbing what’s on the screen).
Eventually, the new Edge will adopt some of the functionality that legacy Edge had when it comes to annotating web pages with ink, adding notes to pages etc – but the forthcoming web capture is a first step. Note – if you use Mouse Without Borders, it already has the CTRL+SHIFT+S keyboard combo in use, so you’ll need to change that…
The old Snipping Tool (not to be confused with the similar screen snipping utility that’s installed if you have OneNote 2016, activated by pressing WindowsKey+S) is going away, and giving way to a new program. And some people aren’t happy about it (in fact, if this was a story which features on the sponsored clickbait tiles on the Edge browser homepage, it’d be described as Microsoft Has a New Trick, and These People are Furious About It…).
The new Snip & Sketch tool (which is a Modern App, and that in itself means Some People Are Mad at What Microsoft Just Did…) also replaces the previous OneNote method (by using WindowsKey+S), launching a simple toolbar at the top of a greyed-out screen, making it quick and easy to either grab a rectangular portion of the screen, a free-form selection, or the whole screen itself.
If grabbing a free-form selection, once you’ve more-or-less completely made a shape and when you release the mouse button you’ve been holding down, then a large “toast” appears in the bottom right of the screen advising that it’s now in the clipboard. If you click on that, you’ll be launched into the Snip & Sketch app, where you can do various tweaks to your grab, save it, share it and so on. An alternative to the Win+S method of invocation is to go into Snip & Sketch to start with, and initiate a new screen grab from there.
Despite the fact it’s a Modern App and People With Too Much Time On Their Hand Think This… is a bad thing, it’s actually pretty snappy and provides a useful polish to one of the more esoteric but handy features in Windows.
Of course, another method (useful in the preparation of this very note) is to rely on the old PrntScn button, the pressing of which dumps the contents of the screen – floating toolbars and everything – straight into the clipboard.
Paste the contents into MSPAINT, then use the Snipping method above to grab the relevant section of your screen grab, and you’re sorted.
“SHOCK, HORROR!”, the internet & news media said, “Microsoft is killing Paint!”. Cue the opportunity to make Clippy comparisons, and reflect on a bit of software that appeared in its first version in Windows 1.0, bring out the odd eccentric who manages to produce quite amazing art using Paint (like Pat Hines, who’s tried other paint software but “never managed to ‘connect’ with it”, or Jim’ll Paint It, who paints odd scenes on request, and whose fondness for MSPaint means he prefers the WinXP version).
Most of us probably don’t use MSPaint for much these days; maybe the odd bit of clumsy touching-up of images, or using it to snip bits out of screen grabs for documentation purposes.
Here’s one use case, if you’re in the UK and want to print out a map for a walk you’re going to do – fire up MSPAINT, set the canvas dimensions to something huge like 4096×4096 (in File / Properties), then go to Bing Maps and screen grab (WindowsKey+S, or use the Snipping Tool) the relevant sections of your planned walking route, looking at the Ordnance Survey view in the top right, and zooming in so you see the footpath details.
For longish walks, you’ll struggle to fit the whole route on one screen at the max detail level, so you’ll need to grab a bit, paste it onto the Paint canvas, move the map view, grab the next section, then using Paint, assemble the bits together like overlaying jigsaw pieces by moving your newest-pasted chunk around so it fits the rest. Copy the whole finished lot into a Word doc, and print.
Anyway, Paint is most definitely not dead – it’s just going to be an app that’s packaged and maybe delivered via the Windows Store, just like lots of other apps that are traditionally part of Windows and may or may not be installed by default (like Calc, Mail, Groove etc). There’s always Paint3D, too (ToW 358).
If you do need to do some more intensive image manipulation, especially of photos, there are many free options, from Adobe’s PhotoShop Express or the built-in Microsoft Photos app, which lets you carry out simple tweaks to photos you’ve acquired. For more creating and pixel-by-pixel tweaking of images, though, you’d be hard pressed to find a better value yet powerful tool than Paint.NET. It looks a bit 1990s in some respects, but it’s a simple and effective image editing tool, that has been likened to the bits of Photoshop that people like, simplified and delivered for free.
Find out more about Paint.NET here – download directly from here, and keep an eye out for a packaged version of Paint.NET hitting the Windows Store at some point, too. Who knows – maybe it will be there before MSPaint is loaded on the cart and taken away?