DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

March 3, 2015

Google Tricks, Part 3

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For the last couple of weeks I have told you about some interesting Google tricks you can do, some helpful, others fun.  Your interest in emails has shown me that you would like a couple more of their tricks, so here we go.  Remember always start on the main Google.com page for these to work.  Most will anyway but they will definitely work from the main page.

Pretend that you are researching some item on Google, say bananas.  You search using Google.com as usual with, "banana farms" and find many links with information.  Many of the sites reference, "Chiquita" but you do not want any more information on that company.  To weed out that company type, "banana farms -Chiquita".  The results will have removed, "Chiquita" from most all of the searches.  The use of a minus sign filters your searches by removing the following word.

You may want to get information is a particular format, say a Microsoft PowerPoint slide show which contains the phrase you are looking for.  Search Google this way.  Type, " ‘space the final frontier’ filetype:ppt" in the search box.  Two things to remember.  First thing is that you need to put regular quotes around the phrase you are searching and no space between the colon and the file type after it.  You could also search for graphics using, "jpg" extension; however, it is better to use the Google image search for that.  Other extensions you may search for are Word files (doc and docx), Excel (xls and xlsx), Portable Document Format (pdf), PowerPoint as stated previously (ppt), Text (txt), Open Document Format (odf) and many more from various programs.  

What can you do if you remember reading an article on a site in the past and need to "refind" that article?  Google allows you to search a site for keywords.  For instance you remember an app I wrote about called "Ninite" and want to find it.  You could go directly to my site and search for it or you could go to Google.  In Google type, "ninite site: www.doubleclicks.info" search and you will find several times I have mentioned it online.  Capitalization does not matter; however, spacing is very important.  You must have a space between the term you are searching for and after the colon or you search may fail. 

Two last items are more of a set up and not a trick.  First, if you like the "I’m Feeling Lucky" link in Google and now it is gone most likely you have somehow turned on "Instant predictions."  To go back to the "old" way go to Google.com page, look in the lower right corner and click, "Settings," "Search settings." Finally under "Google Instant predictions" click the "Never show instant results" button.  While there you can also try, "Advanced search."

Try searching with your voice if you have not before.  From Google.com click the gray microphone to the right of the search box.  You will see when it is ready, then just talk away.  This will only work if you have a mic on your computer and it is on/working.

October 21, 2014

What To Do With That Screenshot

Last week I told you about several applications which would enable you to take screenshots from your computer.  They were SnagIt, Snipping Tool and Screenshot Captor.  Those reviews led to several emails I received from readers so we will take a look at a couple of their questions.

Someone asked why they would need a screenshot.  Well, many people may not; however, many others would desire this ability.  It basically allows you to take a picture of anything you see on your computer.

I will pretend that you are looking at a new piece of furniture online that you would like to show your spouse.  You could email them the link to the site but you could also just send a picture (that way the price is hidden…you sneak).  Once you take the "picture" of the chair or whatever you can save it or edit it in your screenshot program.  When you are ready you can insert it into an email and send it on its way.

Say you are going to do a presentation using a paper handout.  You can include screenshots of anything which appears on your computer and is related to what you are promoting.  You can add text, pointers and other graphics to make it more professional.  Also, the same can be done with any slideshow software like Microsoft PowerPoint.  You can make some very good looking and professional "shows." 

Next, I received an email asking about which file type should be used for saving pictures. In many cases it is not vital to the average presentation.  That being said there are a basic few to pick from.  Basically today the standard is JPG which is a lossy format.  This means that it cuts some of the pixels out when edited or losses resolution to some extent.  A lossy format is not as clear and sharp the more you enlarge them.  For finer resolution you can use a lossless format type. 

The most common lossless formats are PNG or TIF which have better resolution but larger file sizes.  You may see GIF occasionally but this is a very lossy format and not good except when you need a small graphic.  Since GIFs have such a small file size they are often used on websites so the sites will load faster…less information to download to your computer.

My opinion is that if I plan to print it or enlarge it I prefer JPG or PNG.  Yes, JPG is lossy but unless you make them very large or edit them a lot they will look very good.  For emailing to friends and presentations go with any format; however, JPG is usually the winner for me.  With a JPG containing up to 16.7 million individual colors it looks pretty good most of the time.

It is different for photography as RAW and TIF (or TIFF) are the highest color quality and resolution.  But we are not looking at that.

According to research, January, 2014 marked the first time that mobile internet usage exceeded PC usage by approximately five percent.  So friends you send screenshots and photos to, could very likely be looking at them on their phones or tablets, and resolution may not matter at all.

October 14, 2014

Need Screenshots?

Amy wrote recently and asked what tool I use for screenshots on my site and in training manuals I have written.  I told her I wrote about that five or so years ago, but it may be time to review.

First, what is a screenshot?  A screenshot is pretty much defined by its name.  It is what you make when you get a picture of your computer screen to use in a document, email or whatever else you may need one for. 

For the past many years I have used an application by Tech Smith (techsmith.com) called, "SnagIt" which is an excellent screenshot tool.  However, it currently costs $49.95.  Those of you who have followed my columns know that money is something I do not easily part with.  So that tells you what I think of SnagIt…great application worth the money if you often need a tool like this. 

SnagIt has many features not always found in similar programs.  You can add watermarks, callouts, create transparent backgrounds, text, draw on graphics, edit photos from other places and more.  This is an excellent application, especially for business.

Next, on my list is "Snipping Tool" which is automatically built into Windows 7 and 8.  This is a great application for getting a screenshot then saving it and emailing or using it in a document. 

To get it running click your start button, type "Snipping" without the quotes and then click "Snipping Tool" which is your first choice.    

Snipping Tool menuDo not be alarmed as most likely everything on your screen will go gray.  Also, a small "tool" will open.  Click on the "New" button to make the colors come back.  The graying is what happens when you are getting ready to copy a screenshot or snip it.

To create a screenshot I recommend first clicking on the down arrow by "New" and choosing what shaped area you wish to copy.  Your choices are self-explanatory with the possible exception of "Free-form Snip" which means you draw the scissors icon around the screen and it copies what you surround. 

Once you snip something the tool box opens with the area you copied.  You can save it, copy it to your clipboard, email it, draw or highlight the graphic etc.  This is not a full featured screenshot program; however, it does give you the basics.  

If you need to keep a screenshot save it to your computer.  Make sure when using the snipping tool you first save a shot before you create another.  If you do not save it when you grab the next one the first will vanish.

One last item to mention if you want more features that the snipping tool has.  It is called "Screenshot Captor" (screenshot-captor.en.softonic.com) and is very positively rated by users. 

Screenshot CaptorI will warn you that you need to watch each screen while installing the application.  It will try to change your search engine and other things.  Make sure you choose "Custom Install" and uncheck everything you see.  Nothing there is nefarious but it is pain to change back to the way it was.  This application has most of the features SnagIt does but it is free.  You must register it during the first 10 days with an email address or it will stop working as it should. 

Good luck in your new screenshot career. 

April 13, 2010

Advanced Screenshots

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , — Ron @ 5:43 am

I had quite a few emails after the screenshot column last week about the print screen key.  Thanks for emailing me and please keep them coming!  A couple of them inspired this column.  Send them to me any time… they often make great columns. You will not usually see extremely specific questions answered here since they do not affect nearly as many people.

One very astute reader asked why I said you had to hold down the "Prnt Scrn" key for a second or so.  They stated that they only had to press theirs for a split second and it would copy the screen.  The reason I said longer than a split second is that some (usually older) PCs required that. However, on newer computers you can usually press the key quickly.  Try yours both ways to see which works for you.

The DoubleClicks Facebook Fan-pageNext, a couple of readers stated having seen that I sometimes added arrows, text, boxes,  circles, etc. to screen shots on my site.  They wanted to know how to do that.  OK, I do not use the "Prnt Scrn" key all by itself.  I actually use a program called SnagIt (techsmith.com). Go to the Techsmith website and scroll down to the bottom left of the page you will see the link for the product.  It is $49.95 but will also allow you to record videos of your screens.  For me it is worth the cost of a license when they upgrade only once every several years.

There are also several other free screen capture utilities out there.  Use your favorite search engine (Google.com and Bing.com for me) to see what you can find.  Screentoaster.com is also good. I have used it for making videos of screens as well.  Be advised, screen videos are sometimes complicated to create.

For stills you can even use a program like Microsoft Word.  If currently own Word, you can add effects like arrows, lines and many more to any graphic for free.

With Word, you first copy and paste the screenshot into a Word document using the "Prnt Scrn" and "Ctrl + V" keys we talked about last time.  Then you can size it as you desire with the sizing handles.  Once that is done you may use some of the advanced features under the "Insert" commands.  Play with them to see all of the available options.

You will be creating your own graphics in no time.

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