Tutorial Thursday

For whatever reason I frequently find myself needing to resize and measure things on my computer screen. I’m normally measuring some images, trying to figure out how much space I have to work with, or want to make sure things are spaced evenly. It’s taken me a little while to find the tools that are just right for the job, but I think I’ve done it!

Below you’ll find a variety of freeware applications for both Mac OS X and Windows. They all do at least one thing, and do it well: measure! In case you forgot it’s always important to remember the handyman’s nerd’s rule of thumb: measure twice, cut and paste once. ;)

–PMeter (Homepage)–

PMeter is a fantastic solution for Windows users that provides a simplistic ruler interface for measuring things. At first glance it may seem as though it’s lacking any power and customizability, but that’s merely because it’s hidden from the exterior. If you right-click anywhere on the ruler you’ll quickly be presented with a menu that has a wealth of options.


If you head on over to the preferences there are some really handy options in there. One thing in particular that I immediately enabled is the zoom window, which can be seen at the right-end of the the ruler above. It’s pretty much a zoomed in view of where your cursor is at, which can make the measuring a little less frustrating when things need to be pixel-perfect.

Some other helpful features include being able to rotate the ruler vertically, save different configurations, and adjust the height/width of the ruler to meet your needs. If you’re not looking to measure pixels you can also measure points, inches, or centimeters.

After download PMeter you’ll be given a choice of whether you want to proceed with a full installation (puts the app in the Program Files folder, creates shortcuts, etc…), or using it in a more portable manner where everything is stored in a single directory.

–Meazure (Homepage / Better Download)–

meazure.pngNow this is a powerful app if I’ve ever seen one! If you need to measure something the odds are pretty good that this can get the job done. As you can see in the screenshot to the right Meazure’s interface isn’t quite as simple as PMeter, but it also does quite a bit more.

The toolbar along the top will let you select what type of shape you’re looking to measure: line, rectangle, circle, angle, or a window. It then takes the liberty of performing some common calculations on whatever you choose to measure, such as the area of the shape.

The zoom box located on the lower-half of the window is capable of zooming in a nearly unusable 32x. At that point you can’t even make out what you’re looking at, but hey, it could prove to be useful if you ever have to dissect a window.

My favorite feature, however, would have to be the ruler, which is the yellow button on the toolbar. It’s nice because it completely stretches itself vertically across the left-side and horizontally across the upper part of your screen by default. You can click and drag on them to move them around, but there will always be one ruler that scales the entire height of your monitor and one that always does the entire width. The only problem that I found is that the ruler itself doesn’t show up in the zoom window, which makes it a little more difficult to align with other items.

When it comes to units it supports pixels, twips, points, picas, inches, centimeters, and millimeters out of the box. If you’re feeling adventurous you could always create your own units though!

–Free Ruler (Homepage)–

This isn’t quite as impressive as some of the Windows alternatives, but it will still get the job done. It provides a simple vertical and horizontal ruler that will track your mouse movement, and shows markers indicating the position. This helps make it a little more precise:

free ruler.png

There aren’t many features that can be customized other than the size of the rulers, but you are able to measure in pixels, inches, picas, or centimeters. And like the others it is free so it’s kinda hard to complain.


So now when you need to measure something on your screen you know that there are tools out there that can do it in style. If you’re a web designer these are some great apps to add to your collection, which I’m sure includes color pickers!

If you know of any other great tools for measuring the screen be sure to shoot us a comment below!