Gadwin PrintScreen Blows Snipping Tool Away

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In a previous article (Snipping Tool Vs. Print Screen), I mentioned how helpful screenshots can be to a technical support query to illustrate the problem you’re having, and also how two functions in Windows – the Print Screen key and the Snipping Tool – provide such help. I explained why I prefer using the Print Screen key, but I’ve found an even better option called Gadwin PrintScreen (the free version).

In the past when I used the ordinary Print Screen key to take a screenshot, I had to open up a graphics program (MSPaint is simple and fast enough), paste the screenshot in, and save it to a specified location as a specified file-type. And I had to do all these steps one screenshot at a time. I also used to play a lot of computer games and enjoyed sharing pictures of those with friends. It wasn’t always easy capturing the moment at the perfect time.

With Gadwin PrintScreen, I can press Print Screen and my screenshot automatically saves just the way I want it where I want it. I can even press it repeatedly to capture the exact desired moment. In today’s computer tech tip, we’re going to install Gadwin PrintScreen and adjust the settings so we can move past old or inferior methods of taking screenshots once and for all.

Step 1: Downloading

Gadwin PrintScreen (freeware) can be downloaded directly from their website as the last item on their Downloads page. Although the page says the download link is for version 4.6 and has a size of 4.04 MB, it actually links to version 4.7, which is 4.06 MB. The compressed download (the “Zip-Archive”) is a little smaller and only contains the executable setup file.

The program works on Windows 8/7/Vista and even Windows XP if you have Service Pack 2 or higher installed.

Step 2: Installation

At the time of this article, the installation wizard is basic and straightforward. It doesn’t try to install “crapware” like browser toolbars, which is the reason why I publish installation guides such as this in the first place.

Select your language and read the End User License Agreement, then select the installation location and that’s it. It only takes a moment to install and you can choose not to view the Readme file afterward.

Step 3: Configuration

Right-click the new icon in the Notification Area (it’s near the clock) and open up the Properties. This context menu also has a quick link to the Captures Folder, which is the default folder all screenshots by this program save to, but we’ll check that in a bit.

On the Preferences menu, you can adjust from many combinations of Function keys with Alt/Control/Shift, but, by default, the Print Screen key alone works to take screenshots. You can set a delay in seconds between pressing the key and when the screenshot is taken. If you plan to take a lot of screenshots, I suggest you disable the following options. The intent is an automatic process, so there is no need for notifications and previews.

  • Hide icon when capturing
  • Show notification messages
  • Preview the captured image
  • Show splash on startup (A splash screen is typically a logo that appears momentarily before the program opens up.)

You can also disable the option to start this program automatically when Windows starts up. Having too many programs start up with Windows will slow down the process. As a personal preference, I rarely setup any programs besides security software to startup automatically.

On the Source menu, you can adjust what exactly is being included in the screenshot. If you’re like me, you probably want to stick with the Full Screen capture area. Capturing the mouse pointer can be helpful when explaining to someone where to click on a screen, so I adjust that option on a case-by-case basis. An ordinary screenshot won’t include the mouse pointer, but you may find it helpful to include at times.

Adjusting settings in the Destination menu is what really makes this program faster than manually saving screenshots in MSPaint like I used to do. You can adjust exactly where you want the pictures to be saved and with whatever naming convention you choose. Here is a list of format codes as they are listed in the Help file.

%userLogin of current user, who is using the program
%compThe name of the computer in the network, that launched the program
%aAbbreviated weekday name
%AFull weekday name
%bAbbreviated month name
%BFull month name
%cDate and time representation appropriate for locale
%dDay of month as decimal number (01 – 31)
%HHour in 24-hour format (00 – 23)
%IHour in 12-hour format (01 – 12)
%jDay of year as decimal number (001 – 366)
%mMonth as decimal number (01 – 12)
%MMinute as decimal number (00 – 59)
%pCurrent locale’s A.M./P.M. indicator for 12-hour clock
%SSecond as decimal number (00 – 59)
%UWeek of year as decimal number, with Sunday as first day of week (00 – 53)
%wWeekday as decimal number (0 – 6; Sunday is 0)
%WWeek of year as decimal number, with Monday as first day of week (00 – 53)
%xDate representation for current locale
%XTime representation for current locale
%yYear without century, as decimal number (00 – 99)
%YYear with century, as decimal number
%z, %ZTime-zone name or abbreviation; no characters if time zone is unknown


ScreenShot of %userScreenShot of joseph.bmp
ScreenShot %m-%d-%yScreenShot 07-28-02.bmp
My Desktop %cMy Desktop 07-28-02 06;55;12.bmp
AppWindow %I;%M %pAppWindow 06;57 AM .bmp

Characters that are always invalid for directory or file names (a restriction of Microsoft Windows):

  • Characters in the (decimal) range 0 through 31
  • Less-than ( < ), greater-than ( > ), double quotation mark ( ), pipe ( | )
  • Drive separator: colon( : )
  • Directory separators: slash ( / ) and back slash ( \ )
  • Wild characters: question mark ( ? ) and asterisk ( * )

The Image menu is the last important menu and includes the last of the automated settings. You can adjust the default file-type, automatic picture resizing, automatic Grayscale or shadows, and even include a timestamp. I prefer PNG files over the default set BMP files because the quality is still high, but the file-size is much lower. A graphics professional will argue a different option, so use whichever works well enough for you. The other automatic settings don’t need to be set because you’ll likely want to adjust your screenshots in a more complex graphics program later. Nonetheless, the automatic options are there if they suit your needs.

Optional: Command Line Arguments

Some folks prefer typing Command Line arguments instead of using the graphical-user interface, so the program’s developers designed the program to accept the following commands. There is a lot of them, so you can reveal them by clicking below.

Gadwin PrintScreen accepts these command line arguments on the Windows Run command line:

/justnowCauses Gadwin PrintScreen to do a capture using current settings and close when finished or canceled
/exitClose the running instance of PrintScreen and exit
/notaskbarStarts Gadwin PrintScreen with the system tray icon disabled
/config=fileUse configuration file ‘file
/nosplashThis setting instructs Gadwin PrintScreen not to show a splash screen as it launches
/quietSuppress all informational messages including warnings and errors
/hotkey=’key’The hot key to start capturing.
/initdelay=’delay’Define delay in seconds before capture. You can set a delay period so you can set up elements such as menu lists or layouts before completing the capture
/hideicon=’yes|no’Hide icon when capture
/notifyend=’yes|no’Displays dialog box notifying you about end of capturing
/showmsg=’yes|no’This setting instructs Gadwin PrintScreen to show notification messages
/preview=’yes|no’Displays Capture Preview Window to see the images you capture before finishing output
/cptarea=’0|1|2|3′Captured area:
  • 0 – select this option to capture all of a user selected window
  • 1 – select this option to capture the client area of a user selected window
  • 2 – the full screen is used as source for capturing
  • 3 – select this option to capture a rectangular region of the screen you select
/cursor=’yes|no’Capture the mouse pointer
/clipboardCopy the captured image into clipboard
/emailSend the captured image through electronic mail
/printPrint the captured image
/askfname=’yes|no’Ask for the file name after capturing
/file=’name’Define the name of file to save captured image
/dir=’folder’Change the name of directory where the file will be saved
/open=’application’This option allows you to open the captured image with other application
/autoname=’yes|no’Automatically set a name of file to save captured image
/image=’0|1|2|3|4|5′Change the type of file to save captured image:
  • 0 – Windows Bitmap (.bmp)
  • 1 – JPEG Bitmap (.jpg)
  • 2 – GIF Image (.gif)
  • 3 – PNG Image (.png)
  • 4 – TIFF Bitmap (.tif)
  • 5 – Targa Bitmap (.tga)
/width=’width’Change the width of captured image
/height=’height’Change the height of captured image
/resize=’yes|no’Lets customize the height and width of captured image
/ratio=’yes|no’Maintains aspect ratio of captured image
/gscale=’yes|no’Change the color mode to grayscale
/jpgqual=’0..100′Change the compression level of captured image (JPEG output)
/shadow=’yes|no’Change the a value that determines if a shadow of captured image is visible
/shdwoff=’offset’Change the value which determines a shadow’s offset
/stampfmt=’format’Define the format of the stamp. For example: %m-%d-%Y %H:%M:%S

There you have it – an awesome, free alternative to the Snipping Tool and the old method of saving screenshots manually.

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Posted in: General Apps

is the site owner of Computer Tech Tips and is passionate about computer technology, particularly Windows-based software, malware removal, and web development. He enjoys helping people troubleshoot computer problems and providing technical support to family, friends, and people around the net. Xps wrote 79 article(s) for Computer Tech Tips.

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