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. Mike said on March 28, 2014 at 9:38 pm

    I always use the free open source LightScreen program, and you CAN use CTRL + PrintScreen which I like :)


  2. KD said on February 22, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    Paste the snip into Paint and perform the operations you need

  3. Ben said on November 30, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    Zscreen is the bomb! So far it is the only free screenshot program that can handle Vista/7’s transparent corners.

  4. Thomas said on November 29, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    Just discovered Cropper http://cropper.codeplex.com/ and gave it a quick test. Let’s see if it can be a successor to MWsnap in the daily work.

  5. Ant said on November 27, 2010 at 4:11 pm
  6. Meena Bassem said on November 27, 2010 at 4:41 am

    Winsnap is an awesome tool, i like it most cuz i can use it to add shadow effect which is always nice
    oh, here is an example of the shadow effect

  7. rickxs said on November 26, 2010 at 11:39 pm

    Martin, Capture wiz for me , love its ability to get self scroll
    as well as video -audio

  8. mizkitty64 said on November 26, 2010 at 11:59 am

    I need MS Office for work so I just use the default clipping tool in OneNote.

    Saves all your clippings by default in a Notebook (with the URL).

    Also sits in your systray by default.

  9. Visual Stuart said on November 26, 2010 at 4:58 am

    Been very happy with SnagIt for several years.

  10. Peter said on November 25, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    ScreenPresso forever – every tool has it’s issues, but this one does exactly what I need it to do, including screenshots from Remote Desktops or Virtual Machines.
    Free, lightweight, brilliant!

  11. DZW said on November 25, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    PrtScr for the win.
    Its free and AWESOME
    I spend all day making screen grab. As a QA engineer it’s part of my job and wouldn’t want to do it without this tool . It makes my life easier!!
    Thanks to the author for this ace tool

  12. Peter said on November 25, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    Ich nutze Directory Opus. Damit kann man einfach die Zwischenablage per STRG-V in einen beliebigen Ordner einfügen. Je nach Art des Inhaltes wird dann eine Bild- oder Textdatei erstellt. Finde ich persönlich sehr praktisch.

    Gruß – Peter.

  13. Caleb Withers said on November 25, 2010 at 11:14 am

    Snipping tool – with photoshop if I need to remove something. Why download something if everything I need is already on my computer?

    1. Martin said on November 25, 2010 at 11:17 am

      What about Photoshop then, why not MS Paint ;)

  14. SverrirF said on November 25, 2010 at 11:08 am

    I’m still using MWsnap. Free and does everything I need.
    Tried others but never found anything that I like as much.

  15. Thomas said on November 25, 2010 at 10:27 am

    still MWsnap… tried many, but no successor till now

  16. Enemy said on November 25, 2010 at 7:58 am

    As it was not mentioned yet: greenshot

  17. CBW said on November 25, 2010 at 5:36 am

    CompuPic Pro

  18. smithj33 said on November 25, 2010 at 3:21 am

    In the Sniping Tool, just change to a large white pen and erase all day long.

    1. Martin said on November 25, 2010 at 10:58 am

      Yeah that’s a workaround but it is not that practicable and takes to much time.

  19. lujomu said on November 25, 2010 at 1:09 am

    Give ‘Screenshot Captor’ a try: http://www.donationcoder.com/Software/Mouser/screenshotcaptor/

    Doesn’t look very polished, but it’s quite good and doesn’t get in your way!

  20. hellfire said on November 24, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    (Alt+)PrtScn + Paint.Net is for ad hoc shots. There’s nothing better for 1-off things.

    If I’m doing process documentation or the like I’ve been using ScreenPresso, but I will be giving Shotty a try based on a link from this very site a week or so ago…

  21. Zaven said on November 24, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    My biggest problem with it. You can’t assign it to Print Screen button. What’s the point of building a better screen capture tool into windows, then not letting you use it when you hit print screen?

    FWIT, I use Screenpresso because this can override the print screen button.

  22. Phil said on November 24, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    I was always using PicPick but now I prefer Shotty for sharing screenshots

  23. Michael Plant said on November 24, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    I use SnagIt… an excellent donationware alternative is DC’s Screenshot Captor.

  24. Shinrae said on November 24, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    PicPick, also a great application with similar features as snagit and… it’s free :D

  25. Marcel said on November 24, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    I use Screenpresso now for a while and can’t say anything bad about it.

    1. nicbot said on November 24, 2010 at 9:18 pm

      +1 to ScreenPresso. Simple, light weight and just the right amount of options for quick and easy screenshot ninjas.

  26. M. Fawzi said on November 24, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    I use Wondearshare Demo Creator 3.0.6 from a giveaway for now. But I used to: print screen + paint.

  27. Nicki said on November 24, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    I’m a big fan of SnagIt myself.

  28. god said on November 24, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    “ALT + Prt Sc” + mspaint = win

  29. Jawwad said on November 24, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    Actually I prefer the FastStone capture (an older free version) and using it for now like 3 years. Simple but functional. You can see a review I did few years back : http://www.inspiredgeek.com/2008/03/31/use-faststone-capture-for-all-of-your-screen-capturing-needs/

  30. HNicolai said on November 24, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    “Fn + Prt Sc” + Paint.NET = win

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