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Screenshots for a user manual *urgent*

Posted on 2002-06-12
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Last Modified: 2010-04-03
I need to take a screenshot of our software and then
usuing photoshop shrink it down to a small enough size
to fit into a quark xpress document I am making but when I shrink the screenshot down it loses too much reolution.

the screenshot is taken using print screen and am using photoshop 5.

any thoughts
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Question by:Webboi
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Expert Comment

by:webwoman
ID: 7073225
Use a different resolution when you take the screen shot. Change to 640x480, then take the screen shot. You'll get 'bigger' pixels, and when you reduce it down you won't lose as much detail.

If you're using a capture utility, set it for 200% and then capture, then reduce the size.
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Expert Comment

by:Marianne
ID: 7073450
Do you really need a good resolution OR just a picture with as many visible details as possible (as webwoman had just suggested)?

1) If resolution is your concern and thus you will print this screenshot somewhere - you have to reduce pixel size but increase the resolution so that the quality of the image won't change.

Example:
Original:
size: 800x600px (28.22cm x 21.17cm); resolution: 72px/inch
Final:
size: 800x600px (5cm x 3.75cm); resolution: 406px/inch

This is a *very* high resolution and if you'll print this out on a good machine you'll be able to see all the details, though the picture itself will be just 5 cm wide.

Btw, setting a screen resolution to 640x480 here won't help you at all. The resolution of your picture wlil be nonetheless 72 dpi. Another thing is that if your software occupies the whole screen (like a website) and with 640x480 screen resolution you can still see everything important that you want to show - then it's a good way to go; you will not show people all the other things (that become visible using a higher resolution) that they don't actually need. This is also a good way to make yourself think about WHAT do you want to show.

2) However, I think that webwoman understood right what you wanted to ask (and did not :)). Most probably you just need a small picture of a screenshot for an online use and you want some details on it to be more or less clearly seen. This has nothing to do with the resolution since you can always see 1 pixel in 1 pixel only online and resolution of online images is only 72 dpi. A higher resolution of an image is some information that cannot be properly displayed and used by a monitor.

Some general tips to make a good screenshot are:

a/ (corresponds to Windows applications only) Make headers of your applications filled with one color, not a gradient. Otherwise reducing size and colors of a small image will make this gradient look ugly, while it is far not the most important part of your screenshot.

Properties -> Appearance -> Scheme -> Windows Standard: Choose one and the same color1 and color2 for Active Title Bar.

b/ Don't resize Image from your original size straight to the final one. Reduce for 100-200 px only and sharpen the image each time.

Filter -> Sharpen -> Unsharp mask (40-60%)

Hugs, leveret.
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Author Comment

by:Webboi
ID: 7075048
Sorry leveret

your right I wasn't very clear i suppose

its like you said I have to take a screenshot of our
software (which is web based) for a user manual so I
need as many visable details on the screenshot as
possiable for eg: they have to be able to read the
links and button but when the I had major trouble
maintaining the details when the size of the image is reduced :(

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Expert Comment

by:Marianne
ID: 7075065
An online user manual, right?
A link to the image you get and the original big one would be useful. We'll be able to say whether it is possible to make it any better.
Good luck.
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Author Comment

by:Webboi
ID: 7075159
as I am making the images of the screen shots to go
into the user manual with control - alt - print screen
I have do all the screenshots myself so thety are the
only originals I have I am going to try your suggestion and as soon as my boss sorts the printer so I can test
thay are okay I'll relase the points to you mate :)

Cheers :)
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Expert Comment

by:Marianne
ID: 7075219
What does the printer have to do with the question. I am still not sure what were you asking for in the very beginning.

so... do you need to use screenshot pictures online or on paper?
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Author Comment

by:Webboi
ID: 7075319
yes I am writing a help manual to be printed onto hardcopy
(paper) to help people use the company software.

But I couldn't get enough detail on the screenshots
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Accepted Solution

by:
Marianne earned 200 total points
ID: 7075331
I see. Then my item 1) should be helpful.

.tiff is a good format to save your images before implementing them into the final layout.

Regards, Leveret.
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Author Comment

by:Webboi
ID: 7087642
cheers mate
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LVL 2

Expert Comment

by:Marianne
ID: 7087690
Webboi,

What is missing in my answer to grade it with an 'A' ?
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