Tip o’ the Week 449 – Snipping Tool gets the snip

clip_image002As mentioned in ToW #447, there are some tweaks coming in the Windows 10 October 2018 update, which might be with us sooner than you think.

The old Snipping Tool (not to be confused with the similar screen snipping utility that’s installed if you have OneNote 2016, activated by pressing WindowsKey+S) is going away, and giving way to a new program. And some people aren’t happy about it (in fact, if this was a story which features on the sponsored clickbait tiles on the Edge browser homepage, it’d be described as Microsoft Has a New Trick, and These People are Furious About It…).

clip_image004The new Snip & Sketch tool (which is a Modern App, and that in itself means Some People Are Mad at What Microsoft Just Did…) also replaces the previous OneNote method (by using WindowsKey+S), launching a simple toclip_image006olbar at the top of a greyed-out screen, making it quick and easy to either grab a rectangular portion of the screen, a free-form selection, or the whole screen itself.

If grabbing a free-form selection, once you’ve more-or-less completely made a shape and when you release the mouse button clip_image010you’ve been holding down, then a large “toast” appears in the bottom right of the screen advising that it’s now in the clipboard. If you click on that, clip_image008you’ll be launched into the Snip & Sketch app, where you can do various tweaks to your grab, save it, share it and so on. An alternative to the Win+S method of invocation is to go into Snip & Sketch to start with, and initiate a new screen grab from there.

Despite the fact it’s a Modern App and People With Too Much Time On Their Hand Think This… is a bad thing, it’s actually pretty snappy and provides a useful polish to one of the more esoteric but handy features in Windows.

clip_image012Handy especially if you prepare any kind of training documentation, or you’re stupid enough to send out a weekly tips email to thousands of people for 9 years.

Of course, another method (useful in the preparation of this very note) is to rely on the old PrntScn button, the pressing of which dumps the contents of the screen – floating toolbars and everything – straight into the clipboard.

Paste the contents into MSPAINT, then use the Snipping method above to grab the relevant section of your screen grab, and you’re sorted.

Tip o’ the Week 390 – Paint it black

SHOCK, HORROR!”, the internet & news media said, “Microsoft is killing Paint!”. Cue the opportunityclip_image002 to make Clippy comparisons, and reflect on a bit of software that appeared in its first version in Windows 1.0, bring out the odd eccentric who manages to produce quite amazing art using Paint (like Pat Hines, who’s tried other paint software but “never managed to ‘connect’ with it”, or Jim’ll Paint It, who paints odd scenes on request, and whose fondness for MSPaint means he prefers the WinXP version).

Most of us probably don’t use MSPaint for much these days; maybe the odd bit of clumsy touching-up of images, or using it to snip bits out of screen grabs for documentation purposes.

Here’s one use case, if you’re in the UK and want to print out a map for a walk you’re going to do – fire up MSPAINT, set the clip_image004canvas dimensions to something huge like 4096×4096 (in File / Properties), then go to Bing Maps and screen grab (WindowsKey+S, or use the Snipping Tool) the relevant sections of your planned walking route, looking at the Ordnance Survey view in the top right, and zooming in so you see the footpath details.

For longish walks, you’ll struggle to fit the whole route on one screen at the max detail level, so you’ll need to grab a bit, paste it onto the Paint canvas, move the map view, grab the next section, then using Paint, assemble the bits together like overlaying jigsaw pieces by moving your newest-pasted chunk around so it fits the rest. Copy the whole finished lot into a Word doc, and print.

Anyway, Paint is most definitely not dead – it’s just going to be an app that’s packaged and maybe delivered via the Windows Store, just like lots of other apps that are traditionally part of Windows and may or may not be installed by default (like Calc, Mail, Groove etc). There’s always Paint3D, too (ToW 358).

If you do need to do some more intensive image manipulation, especially of photos, there are many free options, from Adobe’s PhotoShop Express or the built-in Microsoft Photos app, which lets you carry out simple tweaks to photos you’ve acquired. For more creating and pixel-by-pixel tweaking of images, though, you’d be hard pressed to find a better value yet powerful tool than Paint.NET. It looks a bit 1990s in some respects, but it’s a simple and effective image editing tool, that has been likened to the bits of Photoshop that people like, simplified and delivered for free.

Find out more about Paint.NET here – download directly from here, and keep an eye out for a packaged version of Paint.NET hitting the Windows Store at some point, too. Who knows – maybe it will be there before MSPaint is loaded on the cart and taken away?