Whether you need a quick jpg or gif for your website, or a short video to explain something visually, using "screen capture" software is a boon.
Sure, you can fire up Photoshop or other software to wrangle your images, and you can hook up your video camera and edit the footage into something short and sweet when you need something visual. But I like to use what works best and fastest, and so here's what I do:
For really fast jpgs and gif images I use Skitch (get it at skitch dot com). I use it a LOT. Think seconds, not minutes, to get an image. In fact, I use it to grab all the images I use in the blog. It's free and you can drag an image onto the little Skitch Screen, paste one you grabbed from your screen *, you can resize it by dragging the corner of the screen, and you can save your new image by typing in a name and dragging it onto your desktop or into a file folder.
Need a quick video of something you're doing on your computer? Faster and more effective than writing it all out in words, a short video works wonders. With Jing (jingproject dot com) (also free but the pro version is only $ 15 / yr) you can record a video of onscreen action, even snap a picture of your screen, and share it instantly via web, IM, or email. If you have a webcam, you can even record yourself. Great for blog entries or a quick "hello" to your family and friends.
Want to do a quick video of your onscreen action but need to edit it? Want to edit other types of video footage and incorporate images, Powerpoint slides and other goodies? I love (love) Camtasia (techsmith dot com $ 99 and worth every penny.
If you just need a quick image for a website or document, you can quickly grab ANY * image on your screen:
If you use a Mac –
1. Get whatever you want to capture showing on your computer screen.
2. Press and hold the following keys and then release: Apple Control Shift 4
3. Your pointer will change from an arrow to crosshairs (like a + sign).
4. Position the crosshairs over what you want to capture, then click, hold and drag until you've covered the image, then let go of the mouse.
5. The image is now on your clipboard, you can paste it into an email, a document, just about anywhere.
If you use a PC –
You'll have to get some free software so you can "grab" images from your computer screen. "Easy Capture" software can be downloaded for free via PC World Magazine and other places.
* And do not forget, just because an image is on the web does not mean you can use it (legally). I buy a lot of images at iStockPhoto or I use images I'm legally allowed to use.