HomeHome : Monthly Tips : Mar 2015

Take Screenshots for Reference

March 2015 — Tip of the Month

Screenshots are a great way to capture information on your computer screen and save it for later. For example, you can use screenshots to save error messages for troubleshooting purposes or save payment confirmations displayed on a website.

As a web developer, I take screenshots for reference purposes almost every day. For example, I occasionally take screenshots of my server settings and the server load to establish benchmarks. I also take screenshots of iterations of my websites so I can track the development progress. Sometimes I even take screenshots of search results to keep track of how my sites are ranking.

I store my screenshots in a "Screenshots" folder and organize them into subdirectories, such as "Web Server," "Websites," and "Search Results." It's been a great way for me to keep a running log of my work over the past few years.

Both Windows and OS X make it easy to take a screenshot.

In Windows, you can simply press the "Print Screen" button (often the F13 function key) to copy the contents of the screen to the clipboard. You can also press Alt + Print Screen to only copy the contents of a single window. If you press the Windows key + Print Screen, Windows will save the screenshot as a file in the ~/Pictures/Screenshots directory.

In OS X, you can take a screenshot of the entire screen and save it to a file on the desktop by pressing Command+Shift+3. You can save it to the clipboard instead by pressing Command+Control+Shift+3. You can save a screenshot of a window by pressing Command+Shift+4, then pressing space bar, then clicking on the window you want to capture. After pressing Command+Shift+4, you can also select a custom rectangular area to capture by clicking and dragging the cursor. Pressing Command+Control+Shift+4 will save either type of image to the clipboard instead of creating a file.

Important: If you're using an iOS device, you can take a screenshot by pressing the home and power button at the same time.

While there are other ways to capture data from your screen, such as copying and pasting text or saving a file as a PDF, no method is quite as fast as taking a screenshot.

- Per Christensson