Screen-Capture Keystrokes

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Screen-Capture Keystrokes

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14.10. Screen-Capture Keystrokes If you're reading a chapter about printing and graphics, you may someday be interested in creating screenshots

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  1. 14.10. Screen-Capture Keystrokes If you're reading a chapter about printing and graphics, you may someday be interested in creating screenshots—printable illustrations of the Mac screen. Screenshots are a staple of articles, tutorials, and books about the Mac (including this one). Mac OS X has a secret built-in feature that lets you make them—and includes some very cool convenience features. Here's how to capture various regions of the screen. 14.10.1. The Whole Screen Press Shift- -3 to create a picture file on your desktop, in PNG format, that depicts the entire screen image. A satisfying camera-shutter sound tells you that you were successful. The file is called Picture 1.png. Each time you press Shift- -3, you get another file, called Picture 2, Picture 3, and so on. You can open these files into Preview or any other graphics program, in readiness for editing, printing, or exporting in a different format. Tip: It doesn't have to be Shift- -3. You can change this keystroke, or any of these screenshot keystrokes, to anything you like. Open System Preferences Keyboard & Mouse Keyboard Shortcuts. Expand the Screen Shots list. Click the keystroke you want to change, and then press the new key combo you prefer. 14.10.2. One Section of the Screen You can capture just a rectangular region of the screen by pressing Shift- -4. Your cursor turns into a crosshair with two tiny digital readouts—the horizontal and vertical coordinates of your cursor on the screen at this moment. (The numbers are pixels, as measured from the upper-left corner of the screen, which has coordinates 0, 0.) Now drag diagonally across the screen to capture only a rectangular chunk of it. When you drag and release the mouse, you hear the camera-click sound, and the Picture 1 file appears on your desktop as usual—containing only the rectangle that you enclosed.
  2. In Leopard, in fact, this feature has been goosed up quite a bit. Once you've begun dragging diagonally, while the mouse is still down, you can press any of these keys for special manipulation effects: • Space bar. While you hold down the Space bar with one hand, your selection rectangle is frozen in size and shape. With your mouse hand, you can move the cursor with the entire selection rectangle attached, the better to fine-tune your positioning relative to your target. • Shift key. When you hit Shift, you confine the dragging action of your mouse to a single dimension: horizontal or vertical. Which dimension depends on how you move your mouse after you hit Shift. For example, suppose you drag out a two-inch square, and then you pause. With the mouse button still down, you press Shift. If you now continue to drag downward, the selected area maintains a fixed width; you're increasing only the rectangle's height. • Option key. If you hold down Option after beginning to drag, Mac OS X creates a rectangular selection that grows from the center point outward. That is, it treats your initial click as the rectangle's center point, rather than as a diagonal corner. 14.10.3. A Dialog Box, Menu, Window, or Icon Why fuss with cleaning up a screenshot after you've taken it? Using this trick, you can neatly snip one screen element out from its background. Make sure the dialog box, menu, window, or icon is visible. Then press Shift- -4. But instead of dragging diagonally, tap the Space bar. Your cursor turns into a tiny camera (Figure 14-15). Move it so the misty blue highlighting fills the window or menu you want to capture—and then click. The resulting Picture file snips the window or menu neatly from its background. Figure 14-15. To capture just one dialog box, use the old Camera Cursor trick. That is, invoke Shift- -4 and then tap the Space bar to produce the cursor shown here. Click the element you want to snip it from its background. (Press the Space bar a second time to exit "snip one screen element" mode and return to "drag across an area" mode.) If you ever change your mind about taking any kind of screenshot, press -period or the Esc key.
  3. Shift- -4 and then the Space bar also captures the Dock in one quick snip. Once you've got the camera cursor, just click any blank spot in the Dock (between icons). Tip: If you hold down the Control key as you click or drag (using any of the techniques described above), you copy the screenshot to your clipboard, ready for pasting, rather than saving it as a new graphics file on your desktop. As noted in Chapter 10, Mac OS X also offers another way to create screenshots: the Grab program in your Applications Utilities folder. Grab's chief selling point is its timer option, which lets you set up the screen before it takes the shot. But if you're really serious about capturing screenshots, you should opt instead for Snapz Pro X (, which can capture virtually anything on the screen— even movies of onscreen procedures, along with your narration—and save it in your choice of graphics format.  
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