Handy screen capture utility in Microsoft Office

Happy new year! Let me start off 2011 by giving you a handy tip I’m sure you’ll like. Something that’s useful and even kind of fun: There are plenty of ways to capture part of your screen, but they usually involve messing around with dialog boxes every time or cropping out areas you don’t want, or they involve spending money on a utility. But there’s a good chance you have a better way already but don’t know it, yet.

I’m not talking about the Snipping tool in Windows 7 or the old Print Screen key. What you can do instead is press a keyboard shortcut that lets you select any rectangular area on your screen and have that selection in your clipboard. You can then paste that selection into almost any document, as I’ve done below.

What makes this work is Microsoft OneNote. If you have any edition of Microsoft Office 2010 or the Home or Enterprise edition of Office 2007, it means you have OneNote. Here’s how you set it up (you have to do this only once):

  1. Start up OneNote (Select Start/All Programs/Microsoft Office/OneNote 2010 or click the Start button and search for OneNote).
  2. Click the File tab, select Options, then click the Display category on the left.
  3. Check the option for “Place OneNote icon in the notification area….”. If you have Office 2010, also check the option at the bottom labeled “Disable screen clipping notifications”.
    OneNote display option
  4. Click OK.
  5. If you’re using Office 2007, you need to do one more step (ignore this step if you have 2010). Look at the Notification area of your taskbar (lower-right corner of your screen, near the clock). You should see a OneNote icon that looks like this: OneNote icon. (You might have to click the small Up arrow to see it.) Click the icon and from the pop-up menu, select Options/Screen Clipping Defaults. Select Copy to Clipboard Only.

Now you can use it:

  1. On your keyboard, press Windows key + S. The mouse pointer will become a cross hair and the screen will gray out.
  2. Now click-and-drag the cross hair over an area of your screen.
    Select screen area
  3. When you release the mouse button, the screen will return to normal.
  4. Open up almost any program — Word, Excel, a new Outlook e-mail, a OneNote page, a Photoshop or Illustrator document — and paste (Ctrl + V). You’ll see your screen capture.
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