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How To

by "Cajun" David Richard

Snapz Pro Snazziness

In this issue's column, we will be taking a look at the special features and handy uses of Snapz Pro. This product is so versatile that you can use it in many different ways. The manual is pretty complete in its description of what Snapz Pro can do, but it doesn't go into detail as to how you can use the special features. This column highlights some of the possible uses of Snapz Pro.

Rapid Fire Screen Shots

When you activate Snapz, you are presented with the Capture Palette. This palette allows you to choose from a variety of things to capture. After making a choice in the Capture Palette, you need to select what you want to capture on the screen. These are the three steps needed to take screen captures.

Now, suppose you are interested in making a series of captures. For example, suppose you had 10 separate windows that you needed to capture. Well, if you took all three steps for each window, that would be 30 steps! Way too many to be efficient. This is where Snapz Pro's Last Selcted Capture Tool feature comes into play.

In the Snapz Pro control panel (in your Control Panels folder), there is a button called "Settings..." By clicking on this button, you will presented with the Settings dialog box. In here, you will find two radio buttons: "Open up the Snapz Palette" and "Use the last selected capture tool." By selecting the latter of these radio buttons, Snapz Pro will present the last selected capture tool when the hot key is pressed. This will allow for multiple captures of the same type of object. So, when you press the hot key combination, you can bypass the Capture Palette.

Switching between the capture tools is also easily done. By pressing the ESC key, you can step backwards through the process. In this case, pressing the ESC key displays the Capture Palette so that a different capture tool may be choosen. However, this can also be bypassed by typing one of the shortcut keys (1-4 or F1-F4). When these are selected, the cursor changes to the respective capture tool.

Colorful Color Conversion

Snapz Pro also helps you when you need to make color conversions. Suppose you have a machine that supports millions of colors but you are in need of an 8-bit image. Sure, you can go to your Monitors control panel and change the color depth of your monitor before the capture (or if you have ColorSwitch, just change the color depth from the menu), but with Snapz Pro, you don't have to.

Snapz Pro has the ability to do on-the-fly color conversions as it captures the screen. Before the file is written, Snapz Pro makes the necessary conversions to the resulting file. This comes in handy if you do not need the higher color depth and don't feel like changing the settings on your monitor.

Another color conversion feature of Snapz Pro is conversion to the Windows palette. Now, I know you Mac people are probably wondering, "Why did they put that in there?" Well, since this World Wide Web thing is a big deal these days, we figured that it would be pretty handy to be able to convert images to this palette. This palette also handles the 216 color palette that Netscape Navigator uses (the 216 colors in this palette are the 216 colors that are similiar between the Mac System palette and the Windows system palette).

Super Scaling

Snapz Pro also has the ability to scale the image to a desired size. This is very useful if you don't have an image editor or you just need to scale the image and not do any other editing. You can use these scaled images in manuals, newsletters, and other situations where the original image is too large for the destination.

Clipboard Collaboration

Another shortcut that is offered by Snapz Pro is the "capture to the clipboard" feature. This is most handy when the image needs no editing at all. I found that this feature saves oodles of time in the right situation. For instance, when writing the manual for Snapz Pro, I was able to capture and paste screens that didn't need any editing in a matter of seconds.

If the image does need editing, you can still use the clipboard feature. Photoshop, when creating a new document, will use the dimensions of the image on the clipboard for the new document. The image can be pasted into the new document after it is completed. This allows you to work in another image editing program than that set in the Snapz Pro Settings dialog.

Outstanding Aliasing

Finally, I would like to mention a little bit about aliases. Several people have contacted me about how to use them. Many of the concerns stem from the fact that Snapz Pro saves the images inside the System folder. While this would not cause any problems on your machine (it's the same drive, the folder doesn't really matter), some people do like to keep their machines more organized.

Snapz Pro supports aliases. You can either create aliases of folders inside the Screen Snapz folder, or you can create an alias for the Screen Snapz folder itself. Either way, the proper names will appear in the Send To: popup menu and Snapz Pro will save the images to the proper folder.

Creating aliases for the Screen Snapz folder is easy. Just create a folder where you would like to save your images, make an alias to the folder, and drag it into the Screen Snapz folder. The aliases will appear in the Send To: popup menu the next time the Capture Palette appears.

Making an alias of the Screen Snapz folder itself is a more precise operation. Since Snapz Pro looks for an item named exactly "Screen Snapz," any error will cause Snapz Pro to create a new Screen Snapz folder. I have a process that is simple and easy. First, move the Screen Snapz folder to the desired location. Then, copy the name of the folder. After you have copied the name, create an alias to the folder and drag it to the System folder. Once there, highlight the name of the alias and paste the name that is on the clipboard. This way you are certain that Snapz Pro will find the proper place to save your files.

Well, that's about all I have to say about Snapz Pro. As you can tell, I'm pretty excited about the product. And why not? It makes my job easier. We hope that is make your job easier too. Happy Capturing!

Ed Note -- Cajun really enjoyed the Holidays here in Rochester (except for that Hector thing). He says that he really made out on gifts. 6 pairs of wool socks! "You can't go wrong with wool socks," he says. Last year it was, "You can't go wrong with boxer shorts."

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