Saturday, April 02, 2011

Probably the fastest way to make screen clipping

If you have Microsoft Office OneNote installed, you have at your disposal the fastest way to create a screenshot of a specific region of the screen. The standard way of creating screenshots had two options:
  • PrintScreen (on your keyboard): Takes a screenshot of the entire screen.
  • Alt-PrintScreen: Takes a screenshot of the active window.
But when you want to take a screenshot of a custom defined region of the screen, you will have to either screenshot the entire screen and crop it in an image processing program, or use a special software such as "Snipping Tool" from Microsoft.

When using a software, you'll usually have to find it and run it (unless you have a quick-access shortcut or keyboard shortcut assigned to it), then command it to let you create a new screenshot. Such softwares usually also provide a preview of the screen clipping in addition to copying it to the clipboard. You will have to dispose of this preview once you have used the screen clipping.

Microsoft OneNote, although not specifically designed for screenshots, has the fastest way to take screen clippings ready for use. Once you have installed Office with OneNote, you will find the OneNote icon in the notification area (aka system tray) which is a stylized purple N.

Updates for Windows 10 at the end of the post!


If you're into keyboard shortcuts, you can always press Win-S keyboard shortcut to create a screen clipping anytime. It's easy and fast.

If you're a heavy mouse user, you need to first set the OneNote icon to create screen clippings by default:
  • Right-click the icon in the notification area to get its context menu.
  • Point to "OneNote Icon Defaults" menu item.
  • Select "Create Screen Clipping" in the sub-menu (not the main context menu).
From now, you can simply single-click the OneNote icon to create a screen clipping. There is no need to double-click although it will also work.

In either case, you will get a dialog box "Select Location in OneNote" when you create a screen clipping. This is useful if you're a OneNote user and you will sometimes paste screen clippings in your notes. But if you're not a OneNote user, you can have OneNote always copy the clipping to clipboard:
  • In the dialog box, click "Don't ask me again and always do the following:" (a check mark must appear).
  • Click "Copy to Clipboard" button.
When you create a screen clipping next time, it will always be copied to the clipboard silently. You can then paste it anywhere you want. (Do note that previous clipboard contents will be lost.)

If you wish to have the dialog box appear again, you can change the settings by opening OneNote Options:
  • Right-click the OneNote icon in the notification area.
  • Select "Open OneNote" menu item.
  • Click File > Options.
  • On left-side, select "Send to OneNote".
  • For "Screen clippings" under "Other Content", choose "Always ask where to send" (you can also choose to always send to a note).
  • Click the OK button.
Whenever you start creating a screen clipping, there will be a pop-up notification balloon tip that says "Select a region of the screen to create a screen clipping, or click anywhere to cancel." If you don't want to see this, do as follows:
  • Do the first three steps above to open OneNote Options.
  • On left-side, select Display.
  • Click "Disable screen clipping notifications" so that a check mark appears for the item.
  • Click the OK button.
That's it. Now you can clip away anytime with Win-S keyboard shortcut or by clicking the OneNote icon!

Updates for Windows 10! 


After upgrading to Windows 10 (on 8th May 2016), I found that we need to make a few adjustments. I am using OneNote 2010.

The Win-S keyboard shortcut got hijacked by Cortana/Search (which redundantly uses Win-Q for the exact same purpose). To remedy this so that you can continue to use Win-S for screen clippings, you need to make a small modification to the registry. Please follow the answers of Justin and Steve in this StackOverflow question.

If you have disabled the pop-up notifications previously, you will notice that the notifications now appear in the Windows 10 Action Center, popping up on screen with sounds. You will also find that the "Disable screen clipping notifications" option has no effect whatsoever in Windows 10.

To remedy this, right-click the clock and select "Properties" or "Customize notification icons". Towards the bottom of the window that opened, find the section "Show notifications from these apps". Toggle the switch for "Microsoft OneNote Quick Launcher" to the Off position. (You may need to make OneNote produce notifications at least once to see it in the section.)

I read that the above fix for the notification is temporary, and the toggle can get set back to On position after a few restarts or updates. In that case, you will need to toggle it back to Off again. I don't see another workaround for it, and Microsoft is just making it worse for everyone with settings that don't work, and settings that can just change back at their will and pleasure with absolute disrespect to the user. (You'll NEVER see that happen to disabled notifications in an Android phone.)

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