Thursday, September 29, 2011

Picasa and Screen Captures

It’s another busy week and Mom is finally coming home from rehab after surgery. It’s wonderful that there are facilities to make sure she is ready to take care of herself safely. Thanks for the thoughts and prayers during this time.

All of this means that family history has taken a back seat to actual family but that’s how it is supposed to be. I also teach two days a week and prepare all my own materials and course content. It’s a wonderful opportunity but time consuming. The result is that I can’t blog daily – I imagine you’ve noticed. I will try to keep to three times a week, though.

Today’s post is about a program called Picasa. I have mentioned it before but most of us use it for pictures. Did you know you can use it to capture whole screen shots? If you have Windows Vista or Windows 7 or a Mac, you’ve been able to cut a piece from anywhere on your screen and do something else with it. All Windows programs have been able to capture screen shots but the next few steps to keep a copy of the screen shot are arcane.

Picasa to the rescue!

Open Picasa (a free download from  – a Google product) then minimize it. When you find a screen you want a copy of, click the “print screen” key on your computer. (Note: the “ALT-PrintScreen” key combination will capture just the active window.) You will see Picasa capture the screen and store it in a folder called “screen captures” inside the Picasa folder in the (my)Pictures folder on your computer. The best thing is that the screenshots are captured in sequence by time so they are always in the order in which you progresses through the original screens. Once they are in Picasa you can caption them, rename them, edit them, crop them, type text on them, e-mail them, or even create a slide show (with one click!!!), etc. Picasa lets you do anything to these screen shots that you can do to a picture.

OK, so why would you want to do this? It’s a slick way of creating a slide show from different source documents. It’s easy to use for teaching or demonstrating. You can add text to any slide and captions allow you to be precise with directions. Once you have a sequence of screen shots you can put them in an album in Picasa are re-arrange them in any order. You can make a gift CD or movie for someone with this free powerful piece of software. (Note: Family Tree Maker users can also run a slide show of their Family Tree Maker media files.) Picasa has so many uses that I’ll have to share more, later.

Happy Hunting!

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