I take a lot of screenshots. I mean, a LOT of screenshots. I’ve written around 1400 articles for Associated Content, and most of them have multiple screenshots, with many including the maximum of five allowed. Add the thousands of screenshots I’ve taken for Associated Content to the hundreds of screenshots I’ve sent to friends and family to illustrate something on the computer, and it becomes clear why I value a good screenshot tool. Something that slows me down, or makes it hard to get at the features I need would not be a good thing in my book. I’ve never been thrilled with the GNOME Linux default screenshot tool, which just didn’t have enough features, so I was happy to find Shutter, a great tool for screenshots and more. In KDE, I’ve always been happy with the default KSnapshot tool, but that doesn’t mean I’ll ever stop looking for something better… something to make me more productive – and faster! – at taking screenshots. In this article, I’ll talk about ScreenGrab, a Qt screenshot utility that works for both Windows and Linux.
The first thing I noticed about ScreenGrab was how minimalist its interface is. In many programs, this wouldn’t be good, as I like to have all the features visible at all times, but with ScreenGrab, it makes sense. All the features are visible, but since ScreenGrab doesn’t offer a lot of “extras” (such as uploading to file sharing sites, editing or otherwise manipulating the screenshot, or acting as a screenshot manager), that minimalist interface is just fine with me!
Because even though the interface isn’t cluttered with buttons or menus or sliders, it still holds a good number of features. Here are the main features, as found on the ScreenGrab website (edited slightly for clarity):
1. Grab a screenshot of the full desktop, the active window or select an area of desktop
2. Copy the screenshot directly into the clipboard, without first saving
3. Save screenshots in PNG and JPEG format, as well as BMP
4. Choose a delay of between 0-90 seconds before grabbing a screenshot
5. Use global shortcuts to take screenshots
6. Hide the main window to the system tray or taskbar
7. Minimize or close to the system tray (as well as take screenshots from the tray icon menu)
8. Set ScreenGrab to automaticaly save the screenshot
As you can see, there’s a lot of features for such a basic-looking interface. For my needs (which really aren’t all that great, in spite of the sheer number of screenshots I take), the most important are the options mentioned in the first feature. Sometimes I’ll grab the entire desktop, but I’m more likely to use a lasso tool to select just a portion of the screen, or often I’ll only want a particular window. And ScreenGrab also offers me the ability to grab only the window (and not the window decoration), which is also useful. I also like the ability to save screenshots in JPG format. Too many programs I’ve looked at only use PNG, which is fine – it’s a great format – but Associated Content prefers JPG uploads, so saving in that format to begin with helps save time.
In reality, there’s nothing ScreenGrab offers that KSnapshot doesn’t, so in KDE, I’m not likely to use it. But when I’m using GNOME Linux – where I don’t really “love” the default screenshot tool – I’m much more likely to install it for its speed and simplicity. I still like Shutter, and for times when I need its power, it’s the obvious choice, but ScreenGrab is a lot faster to start up, for one thing, and is just a lot simpler and easier to use. And because ScreenGrab is written in Qt, it should look right at home in both KDE and GNOME, and if I ever install Windows again, I’d be tempted to try it there as well. All in all… a nice choice. Maybe not the best I’ve ever used, but certainly a solid option, and well worth a look.