Microsoft Monday

There are a handful of features in Windows Vista that don’t get talked about very often, so many people don’t realize that they’re even there.  One such tool is the Snipping tool which you’ll find in all versions of Vista starting with Vista Home Premium on up. It was originally created for those using a tablet PC, but you certainly don’t need a tablet PC to take advantage of this feature.  Before we get into it, I’ll just caution that this is an extremely basic feature for capturing screenshots. If you’re used to using a full-featured type of program like Snag-it, this is not for you.

Finding the Snipping Tool

To find the snipping tool, just open the start menu and type “snipping tool” in the search box.  You can also go to All Programs > Accessories > Snipping Tool. Once you open it, you’ll be asked if you’d like to add the snipping tool to the quick launch bar. If you think you’ll be using this tool pretty regularly, it may not be a bad idea.

Creating a New Snip

Once you click to Open the Snipping Tool, it will assume that you’re ready to select an area that you would like to snip.  There are a few different “snip types” that you can choose from which you’ll find under the “New” menu which is shown below.

creating a new snip

By default, it’s set to create a rectangular snip, but notice that you can do a free-form snip, a window snip, or a full-screen snip.

  • Free-form Snip – draw a line using your mouse (or a stylus for the tablet PC) around the area that you’d like to capture.
  • Rectangular Snip – draw a line by dragging the cursor around an object to form a rectangle.
  • Window Snip – click on an entire window that you’d like to capture
  • Full-screen Snip – this will capture your entire screen

Using the Mark-up Window

After the snip has been taken, it will automatically open up into the mark-up window.  This is where you you can add things to the image like annotate using different pens, or highlight portions of it.  You can also save the snip, or share it from here.

snipping tool tools


annotating The image to the right shows you the different pens you’d have available for annotating.  Once again, these would be easiest to use if you were on a Tablet PC, but they still work fine with your mouse. You can “customize” your pens by clicking customize and then selecting the color that you’d like from a drop-down list (there are 16 different options), the thickness of pen, and whether you want a chisel tip or round tip.

Share the Snip

The last thing that you might want to do is share the snip via email.  You can do so by clicking the envelope in the snipping tool Window.  Your two options are to email the snip as an image or an attachment. 

Snipping Tool Options

The image below shows the different options you could change. The only one I’d recommend that you change is the “Selection Ink Color.” It’s set by default to red and you may not like the way that looks when you make a window snip or a full-screen snip.

snipping tool options