Kadansky Logo

Personalized Computer Services

(617) 484-6657


How I Work





Practical Computer Advice
from Martin Kadansky
Volume 2 Issue 2 February 2008
In This Issue
What's this thing on my screen?
Martin's E-Newsletter featured in Belmont Newspaper
I Recommend...
When your computer displays a strange message on the screen, does the idea of writing it down just strike you as tedious? Here's a simpler and more thorough technique for capturing what's on your screen.
What's this thing on my screen?

The Problem
Has this ever happened to you? You're using your computer as usual, checking your email or working on a document, when something strange appears on the screen. Perhaps it's an odd error message, or something confusing or disturbing. You manage to get past it and get on with your work. Later on you mention it to your computer person, who asks, "What did it say? Didn't you write it down?" and you're at a loss to tell them more.

A Simple Solution
You could certainly keep a pad of paper near your computer and write such things down, or take out your camera and try to take a picture of the screen, but for most people those are just too difficult. Instead, with a few simple steps you can take an electronic "screen shot," which captures a picture of the entire computer screen and stores it in a file on your computer, and you don't have to worry about focus, red-eye, or writing anything down. Here's how:

On Windows:
  • On your keyboard, tap the PrintScreen key (PrtSc on laptops). This puts a copy of the entire screen on the Clipboard as a picture. It doesn't give you any indication that it's done anything, not even a beep, but have faith!
  • Open Microsoft Word, or, if you don't have Word (or want something simpler), open the Paint program (Start->All Programs->Accessories->Paint). You don't have to close anything first.
  • Pull down the Edit menu and choose Paste. You'll see a picture of your screen appear in the document
  • Save this new document (File->Save). I suggest putting it in your Documents or Desktop folder, and giving it a memorable name, e.g., "Odd email error Feb 25" or "Strange computer thing."
On Macintosh:
  • On your keyboard, hold down both the Command (a.k.a. Apple) and Shift keys with your left hand.
  • Still holding down those keys, tap the "3" key once with your right hand. If your volume is turned up high enough, you should hear a "camera shutter" sound.
  • Release the Command (a.k.a. Apple) and Shift keys.
  • Pressing this key combination creates a picture file called "Picture 1" (or "Picture 1.png") on your Desktop. If a "Picture 1" file is already on the Desktop, later files will be called "Picture 2," etc.
  • I suggest renaming this file to something more memorable, e.g., "Odd email error Feb 25" or "Strange computer thing." You may have to close or hide some windows first to uncover this desktop icon before you can rename it.
  • (Optional) Double-click this new file to take a look at your screen shot.
Now that you know how to take a screen shot, you can capture whatever you see on your screen without laboriously writing down everything you see! This has a number of uses:
  • If it's something you're concerned about, you can attach it to an email (or simply print it out) and send it to someone who might be able to help.
  • If you're used to a certain arrangement of icons on, say, your customized Toolbars, Desktop, or Macintosh Dock, a screen shot is a simple way to keep a record of it.
These screen shot methods will probably capture everything on your screen except an image of your mouse cursor. There are also a few situations when you may not be able to take a screen shot:
  • If your computer is frozen or stuck in some way.
  • If you computer is in the early stages of starting up.
  • If your keyboard isn't connected or working properly.
Where to go from here
  • Practice taking a screen shot before you find yourself needing one.
  • If you think it's useful, write the steps on a post-it and stick it on the side of your monitor.
Now, the next time something strange happens on the computer and your support person asks, "What did it say?" you can give them the screen shot and proudly say "Here's exactly what it said!"

If you know someone else who might find this helpful, please feel free to forward it to them.
If you have any comments about this article, send me a reply!
If you have a topic that you'd like me to write about, I'd love to hear about it!
Martin's E-Newsletter featured in Belmont Newspaper

My E-Newsletter is now being featured in a new occasional column titled "Computer Therapist" in the Opinions section of my local paper, the Belmont Citizen-Herald, thanks to my meeting the paper's new editor Anthony Schinella at a local Chamber of Commerce meeting last summer.

See the first installment, published in the newspaper on Thursday February 7th, 2008 at http://www.wickedlocal.com/belmont/news/opinions/x1651593759, which is based on my October 2007 issue "Passwords, passwords, passwords! How can I keep track of them all?"
I Recommend...

In this section of my newsletter I will sometimes recommend trusted colleagues and other times I'll suggest useful products and software. Today's recommendation is:

Judy Rice, M.Ed.
Health and Fitness Consultant

Judy Rice is a fantastic aerobics teacher! From the start of the first aerobics class of hers that I attended back in 1997, I can honestly say that I never felt so comfortable in an "exercise" setting. Judy's relaxed and friendly attitude made it clear that everyone was welcome regardless of their skill or fitness level, her straightforward explanations in plain English helped me get started right away, and her "everyone work at your own level" attitude helped me not to overexert myself. For the following 6 years straight I attended every aerobics class of hers I could, year-round, and I found that that first class was no fluke. Judy is a "regular person" who cares about everyone's health and fitness. I would never have stuck with it for so long if it weren't for Judy's simple, knowledgeable, and friendly approach.

Then, when I became too busy to attend her classes, I hired her to work with me personally in her capacity as a personal trainer. Her positive, encouraging, and supportive attitude, and her knowledge of fitness and nutrition have helped me find productive ways to include exercise and healthier food habits in my busy schedule. She's helped me focus on reasonable goals and make significant improvements over time, which I couldn't have done without her.

So, if you or someone you care about is interested in getting started with an exercise program or reviewing their current fitness habits, and you're finding this landscape just too confusing to navigate, give Judy a call!

She's also very experienced in:
  • Working with seniors to improve their fitness
  • Corporate health education programs
  • Stress management
  • Quitting smoking programs for groups and individuals
  • Smoking reduction for individuals when quitting is just too difficult
  • Relaxation techniques
Here's how to contact Judy in Belmont, Mass.:
(617) 484-7138
How to contact me:
email: martin@kadansky.com
phone: (617) 484-6657
web: http://www.kadansky.com

On a regular basis I write about real issues faced by typical computer users. To subscribe to this newsletter, please send an email to martin@kadansky.com and I'll add you to the list, or visit http://www.kadansky.com/newsletter

Did you miss a previous issue? You can find it in my newsletter archive: http://www.kadansky.com/newsletter

Your privacy is important to me. I do not share my newsletter mailing list with anyone else, nor do I rent it out.

Copyright (C) 2008 Kadansky Consulting, Inc. All rights reserved.

I love helping people learn how to use their computers better! Like a "computer driving instructor," I work 1-on-1 with small business owners and individuals to help them find a more productive and successful relationship with their computers and other high-tech gadgets.

Printer-friendly version

Subscribe to this free newsletter

Go to the Newsletter Archive



To the Top

All original content copyright © 2002 - 2008 Martin Kadansky

Site designed and developed by and copyright © 2002 - 2007 ozbarron