Greenshot is so easy to use, it will have you wondering why you’d ever pay for a screen capture utility.
I have to admit I was skeptical about Greenshot, a free, open-source screenshot tool that claims to be as full-featured as similar paid programs. But after using it, I’m a believer: Greenshot may not be perfect, but this free tool has me wondering why I’d ever pay for one like it again.
Greenshot downloads and installs easily, and requires little to no setup. By default, the program uses the “Print Screen” key (sometimes marked Prnt Scr) as its hotkey; pressing that key in combination with another key (such as Alt or Ctrl) allows for different types of screen capture. In my case, the Print Screen key was already assigned to another screen capture program, so Greenshot notified me that I’d need to choose a new one. I did so easily in the program’s settings menu, and within minutes I was up and running.
Greenshot can capture a region of your screen, the last region you selected with Shift & Print Screen, one program window with Alt & Print Screen, the full screen with Ctrl & Print Screen, or an Internet Explorer window with Ctrl & Shift & Print Screen. You simply press your assigned hotkey and the capture is done. If you choose to capture a region, Greenshot lets you select it with a green overlay that makes it easy to pick the area you’d like to capture. SnagIt, a $50 rival, offers these same capture options, but adds a few more, such as the ability to capture just a menu, text from a Window, images from a Web page, and recording video from the screen.
When you capture a screen in SnagIt, that program automatically opens the image in its editor, which is a full-featured editing tool. Greenshot gives you a few more options in terms of sending your captured screen to other programs or places with the destination picker. This menu pops up as soon as you capture a screen, and allows you to choose between saving the image, opening it in Greenshot’s image editor, copying it to the clipboard, sending it to your printer, uploading it to Imgur, or opening it in a variety of programs, such as Microsoft Outlook, Powerpoint, Word, Excel, or Paint, or Mozilla Thunderbird. Greenshot’s built-in image editor is more basic than SnagIt’s, though it does offer one feature that is very useful. Included among its editing options is “Obfuscate,” which lets you render a section of the screen unreadable by pixelation or blurring. As someone who captures a lot of screenshots that contain email addresses and other personal info, I find this tool invaluable, and it’s easier to use than a similar feature offered by SnagIt.
I did have one problem when using Greenshot, which occurred I tried to capture an entire Internet Explorer window. This is something that SnagIt handles flawlessly, but Greenshot faltered a bit: the capture process seemed to work fine, but the capture only showed a small portion of the IE screen.
Greenshot may not have all of the bells and whistles that its pricier rivals offer, and this free tool is not perfect. But it handles most basic screen capture needs easily, and manages to add some tools that pricier rivals overlook. If you don’t need to capture video and don’t mind editing captures in another program, it does everything you are likely to need. In fact, Greenshot has become my screen capture program of choice.
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Liane Cassavoy is a veteran technology and business journalist. She contributes regularly to PCWorld and has written about business issues and products for Entrepreneur Magazine and other publications. She is the author of two business start-up guides published by Entrepreneur Press.