Why I'm Not Using The Windows Snipping Tool

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 24, 2010
Updated • Nov 24, 2010
Software, Windows, Windows software

A tool to take screenshots of the whole computer screen or part of it, built directly into Windows, that must be great, right? Part of my job is to take screenshots to add visualization to the articles and guides that I post online. And for that, I need a screenshot taking software. I did use many tools in the past, from pressing Print on the keyboard and editing the screenshots in an image editor, to MWSnap and half a dozen other screen capture solutions.

I did try the Snipping Tool as well. It ships with Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional and Ultimate, and some editions of Windows Vista as well. It is also part of the Experience Pack for Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005.

The program does not look that bad on first glance. You can start it by clicking on the start orb, then All Programs > Accessories and then Snipping Tool. Since it is a Windows program it is possible to assign a keyboard shortcut to it to launch it without having to go into the start menu all the time to do so. If you want, you can right-click the Snipping Tool, select Properties from the dialog, click in the Shortcut key field and press a single key on the keyboard. Windows will automatically add Ctrl-Alt to the key, so that the Snipping tool can be opened whenever the keyboard combination is activated.

The program starts automatically in its screenshot taking mode. It displays a small window and dims the rest of the screen. The default selection is to capture a rectangular area just by drawing it with the mouse on the screen. A click on the arrow next to New displays three additional options. The Snipping Tool supports free handed screen captures, window captures and full screen captures.

Once the screenshot has been taken it is loaded in the Snipping Tool editor. The editor offers a few tools to edit the screenshot before it can be saved or emailed. It offers several freehand pens, a highlighter and an eraser. The eraser however can only be used to erase drawings by the user on the screen, not original elements of the screenshot.

And that's the biggest gripe that I have with the screenshot taking tool. It is simply not possible to mask or erase parts of the image. It sometimes is important to blur or hide information on the screenshot before publishing it on the web.

The tool itself offers all the functionality one would expect, but the ability to hide elements on the screenshot. It supports saving the image in various formats, including png and jpg.

Which screenshot taking software are you using? Let me know by leaving a comment.


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  1. Martin said on March 12, 2023 at 3:05 pm

    An even quicker way to open Task Manager is by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Esc.

  2. archie bald said on March 12, 2023 at 4:32 pm

    Win+Pause used to be the goto shortcut for me since… W95… Ms recently hijacked it and you now get Sysinfo. Device manager is still accessible this way: the second to last link at the bottom.

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