Vista Snipping Tool

Sometimes tools that come with the operating system pleasantly surprise you.  Vista comes with a tool called the “Snipping Tool”.  It basically makes the PrintScrn key obsolete in Windows.  Typically people will use the PrintScrn key to capture the screen or window into the clipboard.  Once there, it can be pasted into MSPAINT or similar graphics editor.  Once edited, then it can be used in other documents or even saved as an image.

Until a few months ago, that was the only way I did screen image captures.  It was very useful for capturing relevant screen shots for reports and of course blog posts.  The problem with PrintScrn is that it usually captures too much.  Even with limiting it to only one window, it is usually more than needed.  Secondly, not every user is even going to know about the PrintScrn trick.  It certainly is not a beginner kind of thing.

Enter the Snipping Tool.  It is part of the Accessories in Vista and it picks up where PrintScrn left off.  Unlike PrintScrn, it actually has an interface.  It also can isolate parts of the screen in four different ways.

  1. Free-form
  2. Rectangle
  3. Window
  4. Full Screen

These methods can be selected when the Snipping Tool is started from the New drop down menu.  Free-form is used to trace around the area with the mouse (much like a pair of scissors).  Rectangle cuts sections out based on a sized box.  Window takes a snapshot of the entire window.  Obviously Full Screen captures everything.  

Once captured, the tool switches mode to allow you to make small additions (pen and highlight).  Then the result can either be saved to a file, copied to the clipboard, or sent in an email.  It’s a pretty handy tool.  It has sped up the process of doing partial screen captures greatly.

Microsoft has put together a great introduction video for the Snipping Tool.  The basics are covered and it always helps to see these kind of tools in action.

This tool would be most handy for people needing to document anything related to computers (including training manuals and research reports) but would also be great for bloggers as well.  Essentially whenever you would like to share information that you can see on your screen, it would be perhaps the easiest way to do it.

This probably does not fall under the category of being Citrix related but it does seem worthwhile to pass on useful tips from time to time.


Live near Brisbane, Australia. Software developer currently focused on iOS and Android. Avid Google Local Guide

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Posted in Microsoft, Windows Vista
2 comments on “Vista Snipping Tool
  1. I use a tool called “SnagIt” from TechSmith for all my documentation screenshots – it’s like the Snipping tool but loads better plus works on XP.

  2. jeffreymuir says:

    Great tip Neil. Thanks.

    “SnagIt” is a commercial package for the more serious screen capture users.
    This is from the same company, TechSmith, that brings you Camtasia.
    For more about the latest version of SnagIt, check out .

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