Some tips for grabbing screenshots

Coming from a Windows background, I’m used to grabbing a copy of the entire screen using the PrtSc key or the current window with Alt+PrtSc. When I first bought my Mac, I couldn’t work out how to do this without using the Grab application (which seems a little cumbersome for a simple screen shot) until Alex explained to me that, like so many things in OS X, there is some arcane keyboard shortcut that feels like it will induce a permanent strain on my fingers to do the job for me (I used to think the Ctrl-Alt-Del three finger salute was bad enough). I keep forgetting the keystrokes, so I’m blogging them here:

  • Command+Shift+3 – capture entire screen and save as a file
  • Command+Control+Shift+3 – capture entire screen and copy to the clipboard
  • Command+Shift+4 – capture dragged area and save as a file
  • Command+Control+Shift+4 – capture dragged area and copy to the clipboard
  • Command+Shift+4 then Space – capture a window, menu, desktop icon, or the menu bar and save as a file
  • Command+Control+Shift+4 then Space – capture a window, menu, desktop icon, or the menu bar and copy to the clipboard.

For more on this, see the O’Reilly description of OS X screenshot secrets, which also links to a really useful hack to take a screenshot from DVD Player in OS X – simply type screencapture -i ~/Desktop/dvd.png in a terminal window, then hit Space and click on the DVD Player window to avoid the annoying restriction illustrated in the error message below.

Error when attempt to screen grab from DVD Player

Useful widgets

I’ve spent quite a bit of time this weekend just playing around with my Mac and now I’m hooked on dashboard widgets. Initially dismissed as a gimmick, these are similar to Yahoo! Widgets (formerly Konfabulator) and the sidebar gadgets in Windows Vista. Basically each widget is a tiny application with a particular function in mind. So, here are the ones that I’m currently finding particularly useful:

  • I’ve already written about Amazon album art but it’s been great for downloading the artwork that even iTunes 7 misses:
    Amazon Album Art widget
  • Wikipedia is a tremendously useful resource – although I could fire up a browser it’s sometimes handy to call up an article directly from the dashboard:
    Wikipedia widget
  • AirPort Radar can be used to enable/disable the wireless interface but its most useful feature is reporting all the available wireless networks and their channel numbers:
    AirPort Radar widget AirPort Radar widget
  • iStat Pro gives a single view of my system’s vital statistics:
    iStat Pro widget
  • Dashalytics hooks into my Google Analytics account and gives an instant view of web site visits and page views over the last day, week and year:
    Dashalytics widget
  • I use the BBC Weather widget in place of the standard one (because it recognises the town where I live)… oh well, looks as though things may brighten up in a day or two:
    BBC Weather widget
  • Meanwhile the BBC Radio widget lets me choose from many local and national stations, updating the logo accordingly:
    BBC Radio widget

Of course, some widgets promise much but are let down by reliability issues, or by poor interface design; however there are a growing number of widgets to choose from (Apple maintains an index of the most popular widgets – 2291 of them at the time of writing). I’ve just downloaded some more to try (including one for Blogger) – let’s see where this goes. Something tells me that widgets/gadgets (depending on your operating system of choice) could soon be big business – and if you’re yet to be convinced just imagine what will happen once these HTML/CSS/JavaScript applets cross over to become common on mobile phones and other handheld devices – after all, a few years ago we’d have laughed at the idea of selling ringtones at £3 a pop to mobile phone users.