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Using the Windows Vista Snipping Tool

written by: •edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 6/21/2010

In past versions of Microsoft Windows, the Print Screen function allowed you to take a snapshot of the Window being viewed. While you can still Print Screen in Vista, you might just give it up after learning about the Snipping Tool.

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    Getting Started

    You can learn how to use the snipping tool quite quickly. To open the Snipping Tool, click the Vista Start button and type Snipping into the Start Search bar. Select Snipping Tool from the Programs list and the tool will open. You can minimize the Snipping Tool until you are ready to use it, if desired.

    Article Image If you have a Tablet PC running Windows XP SP2 or higher and want to install the Snipping Tool, download the Microsoft Experience Pack for Tablet PC. If the Snipping Tool is installed but not enabled on your Vista computer, go to the Control Panel. Make sure you are not in Classic View. Click Programs, and then select Turn Windows Features On or Off. Select the check box for Tablet-PC Optional Components.

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    If you are using a Tablet PC, learn more about using the Snipping Tool with your stylus in How Vista Improves the Tablet PC Experience.

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    Types of Snips

    The Snipping Tool offers several different types of snipping options. To select an option, click the drop down arrow next to New on the Snipping Tool window. The Free Form option allows you to "draw" a freehand snip. When you select Free Form, the current window will appear slightly grayed-out and the cursor will turn into scissors. Hold down the left mouse button and drag the cursor around the object or area you want to copy. When you release the mouse, the image will appear in the Snipping Tool window.

    Example of a Free Form Snip

    (click any image to enlarge)Article Image The second snipping option is Rectangular. When you click Rectangular from the Snipping Tool, the window will be grayed-out and the cursor will become a plus sign. Drag the cursor across the area you want to snip, and a rectangular or square shaped image will appear in the Snipping Tool window.

    Example of a Rectangular Snip

    Article Image The third snipping option is Window Snip. Click Window Snip and the current window will take on a colored border. Click anywhere in the window, and the entire window will appear in the Snipping Tool Screen. Full Screen Snip is very similar to Window Snip, except the entire screen will be snipped.

    Window SnipArticle Image Full Screen Snip

    Article Image The last used snipping option will remain selected unless and until you change it.

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    Snipping Tool Options

    When you open the Vista Snipping Tool, you will notice an Options menu. Click Options and select the options you want to apply. If you do not want instructions presented when using the Snipping Tool, select Hide Instruction Text. To be able to paste a snip into another application, select Always Copy Snips to the Clipboard. You can select an ink color for the border around a snip, and if you do not want that border applied to the snip, clear the Show Selection Ink After Snips Are Captured check box.

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    Editing Snips

    Once you have captured a snip, the Vista Snipping Tool toolbar will change. Click Save Snip to save the capture as an image file. The Send Snip button allows you to send the image in the body of an email or as an attachment. Click the Pen drop down arrow to select a pen color, or click Customize to select a pen color, thickness and tip style. You can use the pen to write on or circle items in the snip. The Highlighter button allows you to quickly highlight areas on the snip, and the Eraser button will remove Highlighter or Pen markings from the snip.

    For more Vista tips, check out the Bright Hub's articles How to Add Locations to the Vista Send To Menu and Five Interesting Things You Didn't Know About Vista.