Best Free Screen Capture Tool

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Introduction

On the standard Windows operating system, pressing the Print-Screen key will copy an image of the entire screen to the clipboard, holding the Alt key and pressing the Print-Screen key will capture the currently selected window. Some Windows systems come with a screen capture utility pre-installed. Other operating systems may also offer a similar utility for screen capture.

As an alternative to the utilities that come with the OS, the freeware products in this review cover most of the following useful features and functions which users might find they need:

  • Capture full screen or freely selected screen areas;
  • Auto detect windows and control objects such as button, box, toolbar, tab, etc.;
  • Snap scrolling windows, allow delayed captures;
  • Auto adapt to screen settings, such as custom text size;
  • Re-size screen shots or create thumbnails and other extra features.

This article's focus is on screen captures. If your priority is editing, after the capture, then check out Best Free Digital Image Editor. Several of the editors listed also perform screen captures.

 

Rated Products

Screenshot Captor  

The only capture facility that can take a self-portrait


Our Rating: 
5
License: Free (Donationware)
Supports snapping a Multimon (multiple monitors), Desktop, Active Window, Region, Windows Object, and Scrolling Capture using a hot-key or from the system tray. Editor. Delayed Capture. Output to clipboard, editor, printer, auto-save to a file, or automatic or on-demand uploading of screenshots to image hosting services. Scanner acquisition tools and scanner image correction. Capture Windows 7 partial transparency effects.
Requests for free registration on start up
Read full review...

DuckCapture  

Make screen capture easy with four capture modes


Our Rating: 
4
License: Free
Supports snapping a region, window or object, scrolling window and fullscreen using a hotkey or from the system tray. Output to clipboard, editor, printer, or autosave to a file.
No delayed capture. No simple image editor
Read full review...

SnapDraw  

Screen capture software with annotation tools


Our Rating: 
3.5
License: Free
Fullscreen or active window capture using either a hotkey or system tray. Outstanding editor and annotator. Supports clipboard, email, and FTP. Autosave to file.
No rectangular region, auto-scroll, or delayed capture. No direct print function.
Read full review...

Lightscreen  

An easy screenshot tool


Our Rating: 
3.5
License: Free (Open source)
Capture full screen, active window, and rectangular area using either hot keys or program. Delayed capture & autofile name. Output autosaved to file or clipboard only.
No auto-scroll, or editor. No printer output.
Read full review...

Cropper  

A screen capture utility written in C#


Our Rating: 
3
License: Free (Open source)
Capture full screen, active window, or rectangular area with either a hotkey or notification icon. Output to clipboard, file, or printer.
No auto save, delayed capture, or auto-scroll. No editor.
Read full review...

Snipping Tool  

A screen capture tool built into Windows


Our Rating: 
3
License: Free
Capture full screen, active window, rectangular area, and freehand region after launching program. Output to file or email.
No hotkeys, auto save, delayed capture, or auto-scroll. No printer output. Editor only allows highlighting and freehand line drawing.
Read full review...

Screen Grab Pro  

A screen capture tool features one-click grab of any screen


Our Rating: 
3
License: Free
Capture full screen, active window, and rectangular area from hot key or program. Delayed capture. Output to clipboard or auto save file. Can open file automatically with default image editor.
No auto-scroll or editor. No printer output. Lowers screen resolution when capturing rectangular area so most of right and bottom sides are unavailable.
Read full review...

Jing  

A simple way to take a picture or video on the screen


Our Rating: 
2.5
License: Free (Limited features)
Capture rectangular area fro hot key or program. Capture video of activity within rectangular area. Output to clipboard, file and screencast.com.
No full screen or active window capture. No delayed capture, auto-scroll, auto-save, or editor. No printer output.
Read full review...

More Screen Capture Tools

The following screen capture tools were brought up in comments here or noted from other sources. Some tools don't properly handle the text size setting thereby effectively cropping 225% of the screen with a 150% text screen setting. They may work fine if your text setting is normal (100%).

To be reviewed:

SnapCrab: http://www.fenrir-inc.com/us/snapcrab/

 

Related Products and Links

You might want to check out these articles too:

 

Editor

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Comments

site.editor (can I call you site),
You should not be altering the text size out of proportion to the rest of the controls
Keep the DPI at 100% (normal)
I am old (memory and eyes) and what I do to solve that problem is -
- Get a bigger monitor (EG 40" LCD TV for $300 AU and probably much cheaper in US)
- Have a full screen magnifier that can double the magnification on/off with just a key stroke

Tried a bunch for just a simple screen capture that allows screen rectangle sizing of initial capture to clipboard then right mouse button copy so can paste into a web comment section. DuckCapture only one worked for me. Pasting others into the running web chat field produced 'bad size' msg in the chat window. Don't have to sign up for anything or limitedware.

For most average users Windows 7 Snipping Tool is sufficient.
Just use AutoHotKey to launch it. e.g.:

#1::run SnippingTool.exe

This will launch Snipping Tool when Win+1 is pressed simultaneously.

FastStone Capture is the best if you want a lightweight, very functional, easy to use screen capture and editor. I don't think a lot of people actually take the time to really test these programs before they review them. Believe me, it's the best because I've tried them all extensively. It's also available in a portable version. It's the only program that works consistently with scrolling windows from every application I've tried. Check out the [edited] in the editor. That is so valuable. Even the [edited] is pretty decent for doing a quick demo. [Commercial reference and features removed as per site rules]

FSCapture is indeed excellent, it's been my favourite for years. The last freeware version though is 5.3 and only later (licensed) versions have the functions that you describe.

Today, 14 May 2015. Just tried to download and save, and also just run the latest version of Screenshot Captor and received an error message "invalid certificate etc.". Has anyone else run into this problem? Can't download and save or just run the software. I am running a Windows 7 64-bit system. Thank you.

Hello,

When available, I generally use the portable version of an application (one reason being that it will not, with very few exceptions, write to the Registry).

It turns out that there is a portable version of ScreenshotCaptor (which I have been successfully using on different Windows boxes, both Win 7 x64 & XP x32, for quite some time).

As I almost always download from either Softpedia or Major Geeks, here is the link to the former: http://www.softpedia.com/get/PORTABLE-SOFTWARE/Multimedia/Graphics/Screenshot-Captor-Portable.shtml .

Opening the folder that the "installer" creates, one can pin the app's launcher to the Start Menu and / or send a shortcut to the Desktop.

Hope this works for you.

Regards,

AJ

Looking for a screen capture that specifically has a couple features / behaviors.
1) When adding multiple text boxes on one screen, it (can) remember the last selection whether to use "solid fill" on the text box background. Without having to re-select "solid fill"(color) - every time.

2) At least on the same screen, it can remember the last text box background color used & *not* make you re-select a background color each time (assuming you don't want to use white).

3) For basic drawing / annotating / text boxes, the prgm will allow going back & editing *most* objects - at least if the screen (file) hasn't been saved & closed.
Certain capture proggies, if you even leave the separate "drawing" mode (but the file's still open), there's no editing anything.
Like Faststone Viewer - once you click OK in "Draw Board," (opens a separate screen), NO more editing objects.

4) Better if it's not super complicated prgm (just to add simple text boxes, arrows, etc.)
Screenshot Captor may ? do most on my list, but for fairly simple annotation, it's way overkill & I don't find it intuitive (on many things).

I used a bunch. I liked PicPick in the past, but it won't do the # 1 & 2 above (not sure if past versions did). It's time wasting - reselecting the same text editor options you've used every time.

Thanks.

"... A Thousand Words is a screen capture wizard with an editor. It's intended use is to allow less tech-savvy users to point out exactly what's wrong to helpers on forums and the like ...": http://www.boredomsoft.org/a-thousand-words.bs

there seems to be a relatively new browser extension, with heaps of favourable reviews, seems compatible with Firefox, Chrome, and Android browsers called Nimbus https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/nimbus-screenshot/?src=api

have to agree with Anupam. even though a lot of time is spent on browsers these days, I have little use for a browser only add-on, when another good tool will do it all on my screen without a browser. however, I often look in the comments section like this for other ppls ideas. and will check out that add on.

Thanks for the suggestion, but I don't think browser add-ons will be considered for this review, as the review is for stand alone software only. Maybe when an editor takes over the category, and decides to include add-ons as a side note or something, then it can be added, but otherwise not. It can be a good suggestion for hot item though, as a separate article. You can suggest it to rob.schifreen, our hot items editor, and see what he thinks of this.

Are you the editor? If not, I think such editorial comments should be left to a proper editor. The difference between "addons / extensions", apps, and programs is becoming increasingly blurred, and artificial, given cross-platform / cross-OS tools, esp. like Nimbus; especially where such cross-platform tools can be converted by users to run on different OSes and change from one "form" to another, through something like Chrome APK packager -- are such Windows 8 "apps" apps, or programs? Precisely where such material "should" be included remains to be decided imho.

I am not the editor, but am a moderator, and also editor of other articles. So, as a team member, I know how this site works. You will understand that if we start bundling apps, extensions, and everything into one category, it will be increasingly difficult to handle the reviews, specially when there are so many programs in one category, such as this one. You can already see the long list. It's because of these reasons that we have separate categories for Android, Linux, Mac, and even Firefox add-ons. Keeping them separate makes it easier for editors, as well as for users, as things are organized.

So, how will the site be handling things that don't fall into those neat categories? Or will this spell the end of this site, as it fails to list materials that are useful, but exist across those categories. Must admit, I'm using the site less and less for that reason.

We are open to suggestions regarding this :). You yourself can contribute useful suggestions how to handle this. One way is by posting Hot Finds items, which is done on a daily basis. We have a Firefox add-on category too, where you can contribute this suggestion of yours. http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-firefox-add-ons.htm Which other materials are there, which this site has failed to list? Please open a thread here on this issue: http://www.techsupportalert.com/freeware-forum/comments-suggestions-and-... where you can offer suggestions, criticisms, or open up issues for discussion. Let's do this in a constructive way. And I didn't say your suggestion wasn't useful, didn't say that at all. I am sure many will find such a suggestion useful, who want to capture webpages without the use of a software that they have to fire up. I just said that it's not in the right place. Suggestions are always welcome. You can post about such suggestions in forum too, in appropriate category, like this suggestion of yours could be posted here: http://www.techsupportalert.com/freeware-forum/internet-web-apps-and-net...

When others suggest other programs (or in this case extensions), I am tempted to ask -
"Why is that better than PicPick ?"
I was an Analyst in IT for 20 years, and I cannot fault it.
It is easy to capture anything.
It has TABS (brilliant feature)
You can annotate.
And I just tested it on a web page, and it scrolled to capture the whole web page.

I reckon that PicPick should be the benchmark for which we compare other contenders, and the proposer might elaborate on why their contender is better ?

My 2 cents,
Rob
PS I was not happy when they 'fan boy' followed MS with a flippin Ribbon. But that can be toggled via the little down arrow head.

You are putting your individual preference forward here. While you may find PicPick as the best and go-to program for screen capture, others may not. Others may prefer some other program like DuckCapture, or Screenshot Captor over PicPick, and ask other programs to be compared to them. Different people like different software, and therefore, there are so many software out there. You can't just ask others to compare every suggestion they make to PicPick, or other software. That's unfair, and I might add, a bit ridiculous. For comparison, we have the reviews, which people can read, and form their own opinion, and choose their own software.

Actually, if you re-read my post you won't see me saying it's better than anything, just that it's new, has had good reviews .... In fact, I've "just installed" (in last hour) a couple of different ones, "for a look", and discovered an email from Everhelper.me in my inbox -- bit disturbing, I hadn't as far as I know done anything with anything -- so, as with any freeware, be careful. To be honest, I hadn't heard of (or couldn't remember) PicPick, thanks for the pointer -- actually, what are you doing even mentioning PicPick here -- just checked, it doesn't seem "free"

Yes definitely free (for non commercial use)
I would get it from portable apps or Softpedia -
http://www.softpedia.com/get/Multimedia/Graphic/Graphic-Capture/PicPick....

It has a lot of updates, so you get prompts to upgrade it.
I have had a couple of warnings, when accepting the upgrade download link, so I would use Softpedia myself.
(make sure you don't get fooled into clicking the download AVG link)
(Even Softpedia can fool the elderly and the feeble minded, so I have to be doubly careful)

Rob

PS I went to PicPick Home page from their about box
http://www.picpick.org/en/download
That page mentions that it is free
And I used their download without warnings.
The EXE is identical in size to the Softpedia EXE and Avast scanned it OK
My free Malwarebytes was a bit out of date, and scanned it OK
I am updating it, and will yell out if the next scan has problems.

thanks, the original link I had wasn't clear about the cost -- didn't distinguish home and commercial use. But, really, it's "horses for courses" maybe -- the Nimbus extension enabled me to easily get a snapshot of a lengthy webpage, just by pressing a couple of buttons, whereas PP seems to want "scrolling" -- doesn't seem as easy on first impressions.

I must confess I never have a use for scrolling captures.
If I need to save a web page (and I have saved about 1 million), I save it into a single .mht file (no b...s... accompanying _files folder)
IE always had that ability.
In FF I use the maff extension, which can be 'set' to save web pages as .mht
.mht files are half the size of a saved scrolled jpg of a web page.

There are quite a few people out there that have never experienced the benefit of .mht files.

I had a very specific need -- I've been a "devout" follower / user of Ff for man years, sad to see its numbers dropping off to Chrome -- but I wanted to share the look of the page, and wasn't sure if the other person had Ff so just posting him a graphic image was the easiest. The Nimbus devs say to be avid -- they've also developed a number of Android apps all scoring 4+ -- compatible across a number of OSes.

I have just tried Jing, bit disappointed because after the install I had to "log in" to the program to be able to use it which meant signing up for ANOTHER account on another website, more usernames and passwords to remember, there isnt even an option to try the program without "logging in". Needless to say I have quit the application without signing up and logging in and have uninstalled the program, a bit of a waste of time so wanted to let everyone else know its not very good.

Just thought I'd comment briefly. I use IrfanView for snapshots. Works really well for me. I set it up to take a shot (i.e. internet receipt for online store) using Ctrl + NumPad 4. Has cropping and other edit features that I use only occasionally.

XSnap is a lightweight application that enables you to take snapshots of your desktop, applications and games: http://2xdsoft.de.tl/XSnap.htm
So I've been using ShareX for a month now. It's been simply incredible. I'm using the portable version of the product and v9 has been released. The program has received 5 stars from Softpedia Apart from it being extremely feature-rich, it allows instant upload to Imgur, and 30 other file hosting sites, separately for image, text and files. :D You can also capture screenshots in various ways, rectangle, triangle, polygon and various different shapes. You can add image effects, watermark, annotate. It also has a screen recorder with audio.

No "arrow" tool in ShareX? Don't see one - it's one of my most commonly used.

I found that the other day while randomly browsing Snapfiles or some such site.

It's absolutely brilliant! Easy to set up, very fast and light, supports more sharing and storage sites than I've ever even heard of and on top of all that, supports basic file upload to Dropbox and Google Drive etc.

For ages I've wanted some way of interacting with Dropbox/Google Drive from my desktop without having to install the whole lot (and the syncing folders) and ShareX does it excellently. It even has options for Send To and Context Menu entries so you don't need to have it running all the time. Great stuff, one of my favourite finds in quite some time.

PicPick is about the best so far, because of it's simplicity.
I would like to recommend it to some business friends, but it is not allowed for commercial use.
I tried some of the others recommended here, but they are too complex (too many choices after you do a grab).
Anyone know a free one that can JUST do this -
We do a capture, either by hot key (say PrintScrn), or by clicking the SysTray Icon.
It immediately opens up it's editor, with the image in our face, waiting for us to edit it, or just save it.
Of the ones I tried, Faststone capture was the closest, but it still appears to want to place some window (Form) in our face with it's Toolbar along the top. You then have to click the 'Draw' button to get to the screen that I wanted to appear in the first place.
Anyone know how I can get FS to do what I want ?
Or, know of another free one (including use by commercial people), that knows what 'KISS' means ?

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