What I Wish I’d Known – Screenshots

I think this series of tips, which I can picture going along nicely to Ooh La La by the Faces, is something we can all relate to and appreciate.  For my own “What I Wish I’d Known” tip, I must take you back to 2008.  If only it were longer ago.

The Almighty Screenshot
2008 is when I reached the upper limit of life without screenshots.  My work as a teaching assistant was requiring me to be more transparent; I couldn’t just do work anymore, I had to leave a crumb trail so that others could follow.  Particularly challenging was creating step-by-step hand-outs for students to use when learning new computer programs.  The amount of work I was putting into creating clear, unambiguous writing was growing exponentially.  Without a visual aid to show what I was talking about, I was having to define very basic GUI elements like the ‘dock’ or processes like creating new folders.  I wanted to include screenshots, but I didn’t know how it was done.  No one ever explained it to me, so I assumed it must be too complicated or required some add-on that I didn’t want to bother with.  Eventually I reached the “Googling Point”; this is the point where you get so frustrated, you just type your problem into Google and see what happens.  What I found opened up a higher level of computer competence for me.  Which brings me to my actual tip...
This is the link that was like my hot-key Rosetta stone:  http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1343.  An unassuming URL, but it contains a comprehensive list of all the Mac hotkeys a serious Mac person would ever need.  Among them I found this:

I took this screen capture by using the very instructions that I was screen capturing.


Shift-Command-3 and Shift-Command-4!  The former grabs the whole screen and the latter allows you to capture a specific area of the screen by drawing a box around it.  These commands are even accompanied by a cute little photo snapshot sound, which makes you look really impressive when you’re helping someone who has never come across this before.  Suddenly you’ve become the “Mac-Whisperer” for your local Mac Village.

Now your handouts look snazzy, are easy to follow, and you’ve also begun taking snapshots of stupid things you find on the Internet.  It should be noted that Shift-Command-4 creates a file on your desktop usually called ‘Picture 1′ and so on, and that if you start taking lots of pictures, like I have, you may end up with a lot of Picture 1′s or Picture 4′s etc.  This might compel you to name them.  Also keep in mind that these screenshots cover OS 10.0 to 10.5, but I’m positive they’ll work in Snow Leopard, and can’t imagine why they wouldn’t extend them to Lion.

So now you have the link to peruse which hot keys will make your computer life easier, and you can take pictures in the moment for those special times.  Like when you’re extra paranoid and want a copy of that web-purchase confirmation page.  Or when you make an awesome checkmate and you want to study it:

Or when you’re attending a webinar and want to steal all their cool diagrams like this:
So wherever your screenshots take you, just remember the tip that was just a few years too late.

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