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 from 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:

 

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Comments

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 ?

PicPick (portable from PortableApps.com) will do what (I think) you want.
I'm not sure if it's allowed for commercial use, but apparently the portable version contains NO adware, addon toolbars, etc.

Per the head guy at PortableApps.com, John Haller, these types of addons & extras aren't allowed under their portable apps licensing.
http://portableapps.com/node/41924
"Our installer and format are licensed in such a way that installer add-ons are not permitted. PicPick Portable has no such offers included."

After the editor opens (take screens w/ hot keys or select style from tray menu), everything is right there. Very intuitively laid out, if you've used any image editors. Sorry, it doesn't have jagged edge screen capture. :) I like FastStone's 5.3 simplicity, but it & some like Greenshot are child toys compared to PP.

As to how well PicPick does what it's intended to do or implements its features, it seems very well thought out. It seems very "forgiving / flexible," compared to many similar apps. I'm sure some others do certain functions as well as PicPick.

But when I consider all of its features - incl. EASY scrolling capture, how well it does the all the features (consistency, quality), advanced capabilities of native image editor (works on any imported image) & the overall ease of doing some of the more complex functions, it would seem to be near the best.
I don't have nearly as many "Oh, crap" moments using PicPick as W/ several others.

I'm not sure if it's left out of the review because the installer version from picpick.org now contains "adware," or if the installer version isn't entirely free (dunno - don't use it).

But I've used the portable version for a few yrs & it's been pretty much flawless. Fast & doesn't crash (like some others did, that are rated as best in this latest review.

Being portable hasn't affected my use in the least. It still places optional tray icon when started. Still has hot keys to take screens w/o clicking icon (or open menu from icon), etc.

In fact, for Windows, I usually prefer portables. Only time I don't is when I absolutely need a context menu entry / function.

Certainly for my use (non business) PicPick is simply the best.
Regarding portable apps, I don't like having to conform with their controlling suite.
I just like to create a folder such as C:\PGMS_NoInstall and then have sub folders for each portable program.
Can I download ANY of their portable app programs, and just place it into my folder scheme ?

Thanks,
Rob

Re: Portableapps.com - I've never used their "platform."
I just extract the apps to a folder & send a shortcut to desktop, from the main executable file.

As I understand it, some (all?) of Portable Apps offerings may make temporary changes to Windows' registry when in use, then remove them when closed down. At least that's what John Haller told me at one time.

That's right, and some also create folders in AppData etc which are deleted on exit. PAF programs aren't necessarily "stealth" portable.

The PortableFreewareCollection website is very good for discussions on exactly how portable a portable program is.

SnipDock: Features: * Snip Screen: snip whatever portion of the screen interests you. * Dock: This snipped image will be docked on a screen edge or as a floating popup. * Whatever be the size of the image, the dock will automatically adjust its size. When docked, no other program can encroach the space used by SnipDock, even if they are maximized. * You can zoom in or zoom out of the image by scrolling your mouse on the image. * Any image snipped will be automatically stored in your Pictures folder. So you could also use SnipDock just to snip screen and store the images. http://rahul003.github.io/snip-dock/
ShareX and HotShots are simply brilliant. ShareX allows Fullscreen, Active window, Window list, Active monitor, Monitor list, Rectangle, Rectangle + Window, Rounded rectangle, Ellipse, Triangle, Diamond, Polygon, Free hand, Last region, Screen recording (Supports animated gif), Auto capture methods for capturing the window.
qSnap: Capture Single or Multiple Webpages * With a simple click “snap” a shot of a webpage * Continue to click if you have multiple webpages to capture * qSnap stores snapshots to your tray for editing Edit Images * Edit your snapshots with the built-in annotation tools * Create a rich digital dialogue through your notes Share/Save Your Snapshots * Save your snapshots locally * With a free qSnap account you can: o Store your snapshots on our free hosting service o Share a link to your snaps to Twitter, Facebook, G+ o Email your snapshots or links https://qsnapnet.com/

Having used Duck Capture for a couple of years, I thought it was fool proof...I was wrong.
Recently, I was compiling a list of names and details of friends and was going to use Duck Capture to copy the list. Unfortunately I hicupped and hit the icon with a hidden label of 'share simply by min.us' This then immediately appeared to upload my list.....To where????...Who can now access it???....This sounds like a pontentially dangerous link that's virtually hidden until too late...
I've sent the Duck Capture people 2 e-mails so far asking details about this icon and what exactly it does. So far they have ignored both e-mails.
I now have reason to believe that Duck Capture should not been included in the list of 'best screen capture programs'.
Can anybody help on this case.

Hi, thanks for the information. I have had no time in the last few months. I will review duckcapture again and update the article if needed.

It sounds as if Duck tried to upload your pics to Minus.com but I was just reading a thread which says that the function was removed some time ago and as I understand it that button shouldn't be in the latest version?

https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/ducklink/QdKdEiFP35k

If it did upload it will be on Minus.com as an anonymous user and I don't know what you could do about that. Perhaps contact their site admin and see if they can help?

For people who like to share pics online there is an ImageShack desktop uploader which I use in conjunction with FSCapture. Very simple to use, just save the screenie and drag it onto the uploader, job done.

It looks the list misses 1 great FREE and VERY EASY program,
which I've been using for 2 years or so.
The prog is called SnapaShot:
http://nicekit.com/screen-capture/best-free-snapshot.htm

I'm disappointed in SnapDraw. First off, it is buggy -- on the first screen and I got "Access Violation" error. Second, the help and some functionality are less than clear (or are buggy) -- cannot get the Capture Key Settings to function as expected.

The annotation functionality IS amazing. I just wish the simple stuff within it worked.

Many of these screen capture tools seem to use a lot of processor power or something because my PC noticeably feels and acts slower while capturing the screen. It's great to have all those additional features but when I want to capture to PDF quickly and easily Screen Grab Pro works really well and feels snappy. Then I do a quick Ocr on the pdf making it searchable. The other one that I like is the last freeware version of Faststone Image Capture.

How come PicPick has been omitted?

HotShots is an application for capturing screens and saving them in a variety of image formats as well as adding annotations and graphical data (arrows, lines, texts, ...): http://sourceforge.net/projects/hotshots/

Mr.Shot 1.53 include a battery level indicator. Comes handy for laptop users, I guess.

http://verifive.com/MrShot.html

Screen Sniper is a fast, simple, and reliable program designed to take bulk screenshots easily and instantly: http://sourceforge.net/projects/ssniper/

They is nothing "Sniper" about it. You are better off using the Windows built-in PrtScn button.
Only takes full screenshots, no window or part of the screen.
Skip it.

Screen-Shot.me - take screenshots instantly and save them in album style (still in beta): http://screen-shot.me/Screenshot/Home

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