How To: Take a screen capture & use in this forum (and elsewhere)

You’ve probably already seen some of the forum users post screen captures to show problems, suggest ideas, etc.

If you didn’t already know how, this tip is to :zap:empower you!

For this initial post, I’ll cover the Windows operating system. If someone has experience with Mac, feel free to join in!

There are several applications you can use to capture the screen. Three good ones are:

  • Windows Snipping Tool … this one is free and included with Windows
  • ShareX ( … this one is free and open-source. It’s the one I personally use.
  • SnagIt ( … this one costs quite a bit of money

All three of the above apps can take “pictures” of the screen, as well as record the screen. The captures can then be saved to your computer and uploaded (such as to the RootsMagic forum).

  • Pictures are helpful if you just want to show what you’re seeing on the screen. You can capture the whole screen or just a small part … whichever is most useful.
  • Recordings are very helpful if you’re trying to show someone the actual actions you’re taking. For example, if you are clicking on a button and it’s popping up a warning message or you’re trying to teach someone a technique.

Here’s what the Windows Snipping Tool interface looks like.
Windows Snipping Tool

Depending on which app you use, it will look a little different but will have similar capabilities.

You can control whether you’re taking a picture (the camera icon) or a recording (the video camera icon). You can also control how much area gets captured (the little triangle with the plus in the corner). The icon that looks like a clock lets you set a delay before the capture begins. That can be helpful if you have to get to the screen and click something before it snaps. (Think of it like setting the delay on your camera before you run and get in a group picture at a party.)

Once you’ve made the screen capture, the app may save it automatically or you may need to save it yourself. It will depend on what app you use. (I know for certain that both Snipping Tool and ShareX can be set to automatically save if you like.)

To upload your screen capture to the RM forums … while you’re typing your message, you can click the ‘upload’ button. It will open the familiar file dialog box and let you browse to the place where you saved the screen capture or recording.

forum upload

If you’re doing a screen recording to upload to the RM forum, you should save it as a .GIF file. That’s a type of animated picture. Here’s an example of what the results look like. Looks like a video but it’s a much smaller file:
screen recording example

I hope this tip will help you get your point across more easily.


Well done! Is that the Windows 11 Snipping Tool? Looks quite different from Windows 10 which, iirc, does not record video.

Both this Discourse community and the RM Facebook Group allow pasting a screenshot from the clipboard thus skipping the steps of saving a file and uploading it.

1 Like

:purple_heart: Thank you. And for the ‘like too’. You’re very kind.

Yes. That’s one of the reasons I offered some other alternatives. Not everyone’s got Win11. (It came on the new laptop I bought myself for Christmas.)

True. But sometimes you want to edit the screenshot before uploading. For example if you want to do some highlighting. So it’s good to have the ability to save what you capture.

On a Mac, just use Command + Shift + 3 for a full screenshot and Command + Shift + 4 for just a selection of the screen. By default the result is saved to the desktop though one can intercept it on the way and do all sorts of things. If you want to annotate, the standard Preview application is probably fine.


The mac os includes a powerful screenshot tool with many features opened by command shift 5.

@JP1 and @Rooty … Thanks for pitching in for the Mac OS!

Quick question: Do the Mac built-in tool(s) include screen recording too? If not, do you have a favorite app that you can recommend for Mac folks?

Just use Command + Shift + 5 as Rooty suggested - it provides the full flexibility including recording the screen as well as the options I mentioned.

Well done! Is that the Windows 11 Snipping Tool? Looks quite different from Windows 10 which, iirc, does not record video.

Yeah I had same thought!

Thank you for the details on how to do this. I had attempted to do a screen shot / upload of something a while back and could not get it to paste into the forum.

The mac screenshot tool was added about 3 os versions ago and google would find descriptive articles if interested. You can record the entire screen, a chosen window only, a selected rectangle, or record the entire screen. That is handy to capture a zoom session/class for later watching/review in small doses. Additional settings for where to save screenshots/recordings, etc.

If you need to capture an article longer than one screen choose File…Export as PDF and provide the save location. You get a long thin PDF that when opened is a normal display of the article. Again quite handy.

These and many other features are built into the mac os including malware protection and work just like a charm.

@bossgen Yay! I’m so glad it helped you :+1::blush:

Ah, I’m glad you mentioned that @Rooty. On Windows, I don’t think the Snipping Tool can capture more than a single screen. But both SnagIt and ShareX can do what’s called a ‘scrolling window capture’ and save in various formats, including JPG, PNG, PDF, etc. Quite handy for capturing a long web page. I’ve used the technique to capture articles that were just a tad too long to fit on a single screen, then cropped the resulting image as needed.

Similar to the Mac OS, in Windows there’s also a save-to-PDF function. Rather than ‘export’, it’s set up as a Printer. So for us it’s File … Print. However, I don’t think it’s possible to upload PDF files here for people to view. But they sure are handy for the more general need to archive.

PDFs are crucial to my paperless records and I have 2 shortcut commands to Open or Save as PDF after choosing Print. Mac os has a quick action to convert one or more image files into one PDF file which is very handy. Combine a census image, transcript and citation pdf into one file.