Solve PC problems with PrintScreen
Screen capture software makes it easy to guide less tech-savvy family members through the steps necessary to resolve problems with their PCs.
Clear images mean you can explain solutions via email or instant messaging, which is much more simple than using software like TeamViewer to take over their PC remotely or - worse still - struggle to help them over the phone ("Do you see the Settings button? It's the one shaped like a little gear. Ah, no, you've just closed the window...")
Windows has its own built-in Snipping Tool for taking and annotating screengrabs, but its options are very limited and you'll spend unnecessary time saving grabs manually, formatting them and moving them to the right folder. Gadwin PrintScreen is a superb free program that captures exactly what you want, converts it to the right format and sends it wherever you need it.
When you install Gadwin you'll see a small widget on your desktop containing capture tools and settings. This won't appear in any screen captures (unless you want it to), and can be hidden completely once you've set up some custom keyboard shortcuts.
The default setting captures the entire screen, but you can also capture only the active window or an area selected using your mouse. It's worth noting that the active window tool isn't perfect and occasionally grabs the wrong one, so you might prefer to stick with manual selection until Gadwin irons out this issue in a future update. The option to capture the cursor is very helpful for walking someone through a problem, so we recommend keeping it selected.
PrintScreen lets you preview screengrabs and make any necessary edits, or save them silently in the background if you prefer. By default it names each grab using the current date and time, but it's a good idea to choose the manual option and give each one a more descriptive title instead. The software will still keep a record of them in chronological order for future reference – very handy if you need to explain something step-by-step.
The settings button lets you choose how PrintScreen behaves before and after capturing a grab. When you're troubleshooting with a family member, the most useful of these is the ability to attach screen captures directly to an email. Simply press Print Screen, type some text and press 'Send'.
Alternatively, you can choose to save new captures in a particular folder. If you make this a folder within your Dropbox account then give your family member permission to see them, they'll have instant access to all your screengrabs as you take them.
If you're writing a tutorial to publish online rather than helping your dad install his new flight simulator, you might like to apply a watermark to each screengrab as you take it. PrintScreen can also resize each grab to your exact specifications so it's ready to be uploaded via FTP.
Thanks to PrintScreen, you'll never struggle to troubleshoot a PC over the phone again. "Now right-click the icon and choose Properties - no, you've just deleted it. Okay, let's start that bit again..."