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...

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...

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...

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

This software category is in need of an editor. If you would like to give something back to the freeware community by taking it over, check out this page for more details. You can then contact us from that page or by clicking here.

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Comments

Mr.Shot 1.51 is a fast and easy to use screen capturing program. You need to get use to it at first though. The default hot keys are Control + D, W, R, F which are customizable. Has lot of options and features including free hand drawing and capture mouse cursor. Includes a toolbar to add text, shapes and highlight which can be disabled if you don't want to use the editor.
Definitely worth a try.

http://verifive.com/MrShot.html

It has been mentioned before by George Meyer (at the bottom of this page). Thanx anyway.

I thought it would help the discussion.

Ok.

Neox Screen is ShareX ripoff:
https://code.google.com/p/sharex

Thanks to you both. The suggestion for Neox Screen has been deleted, and future suggestions of it will be deleted too.

EDIT 9/7/2013: After many releases of Screenshot Captor & using it a long time, asking questions on forum, it's VERY apparent it's one of most UNintuitive softwares I've used, of any type. I like much of SSC & it "has lots of features." USING the features is another matter.

Some of the logic in HOW it does exact operations as other apps, is SO out in left field - just STRANGE. I've used it a LONG time (& many others). The way it does many common things (settings; how some functions are carried out), are SO different from other apps (& NOT in a helpful way), that it's just "messed up" for those functions.

It can drive one CRAZY figuring out how to do tasks, common to most ANY app & certainly capture apps. If you want one of its special features - none other has, OK. If you want intuitive, general screen capture & typical (intuitive) features, use something else.

It's Options UI (MANY PAGES) has very small, tightly spaced, below avg quality UI text, VERY troublesome for anyone w/ even mild sight issues or most > age 40.
END OF EDIT.************************

Does SnapDraw have function to place "Caption" box / object w/ your custom text, above a captured or edited screenshot? Nothing I see on their site mentions it.
Much as old FastStone Capture does? That hopefully has some capability to easily change text font, size, color, border / no border.

Also, caption object / box is EITHER resizable once added, or has word wrap as typing caption text & fairly easy to change caption text properties. FastStone v5.3 is still very nice & intuitive for relatively simple annotating. One FastStone drawback (& WHY I'm looking for something w/ just a BIT more capability) is, once LEAVE its annotation ("Drawing") screen, can't do ANY more editing to annotations - like editing a text box. Can't even delete added objects, once leave the drawing screen.

FastStone has excellent quality captures. Printing (for me in Vista 32 / 64) no longer works, but can save or copy to another app to print. Many prgms reviewed in this section don't have direct printing, anyway.

PLEASE feel free to suggest other prgms that have above features & decent, INTUITIVE, easy to use annotation for simpler things; Adding (resizeable) text boxes, arrows, highlighting, easy drawing / editing of common shapes - rectangle / circle outlines, etc.

If I want more complex features (that I rarely use), I'll use something like SSC. But, for simpler things, it's way more complicated (& occasionally irritating) than needed.

I'll agree w/ the review that Screenshot Captor has many nice features. I've used it quite a while. But it's also one of the most unintuitive (mostly its editor) on how to use many of those features, or where the settings are found. If you can figure it out, or use it on a daily basis & become "expert," it may be great. It also captures scrolling screens, but process is hardly "one click & done." There's a learning curve on scrolling captures & it doesn't work on some screens / web pages, but most don't have that function at all.

Screenshot Captor also does SOME functions in ways that NO other app w/ same feature does it (back to unintuitive editor). Its Caption "editor" is simplistic compared to its other features & can be more difficult to enter anything but one line, than other apps w/ that feature. It's feature packed, but the way some work are plain "weird," which many complain about on their forum. Has a decent Help file, but in no way explains how all the "advanced" features work (or some of basic). You'll have to search / post on forum for those directions.

I'm sorry about some of the struggles you are having getting used to the way Screenshot Captor works. I think some of your comments are valid.

The one thing though that I would take some exception to, is the idea that SC does not make the easy/common things easy to do.

For the most common things, SC is designed to be very easy to use and hold your hand if you want it to -- without ever requiring you to go into the options and configure a single thing.

Just click a button or hit a hotkey and your screen will be captured, you'll see a preview, and be presented with a dialog that lets you print, email, upload, save, copy the image to the clipboard, or discard it. It doesn't get much simpler than that.

Then it gets out of your way so you can get back to work.

Now it's true that if you want to do more advanced annotations, editing, configuring, etc., then SC make take a little while to figure out -- it is a tool that is designed to be highly configurable.

Hopefully some of the dozens of video tutorials showing how to use various features is of some assistance to those who want to do more advanced stuff -- and we try hard to be helpful on our forum when someone has a question.

Anyway, like I said -- I'm not dismissing your criticisms -- and different people will have different programs that are best for them. I just wanted to "defend" Screenshot Captor against claims that it's hard to do even the most common things. I actually think the latest releases of Screenshot Captor make it really easy and intuitive to perform the most common actions.

-mouser (author of Screenshot Captor).

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