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Screen capture tips from the PixelMetrics Newletter

Excel works great for combining screen captures onto pages.

It sounds wacky at first, but it turns out Microsoft Excel works great for composing screen captures and text onto pages. Simply paste the images into Excel, then re-positioned them to any pixel by dragging or pressing keyboard arrow keys. Images can also be resized by dragging little handles. You can't do that with Microsoft Word or Paint! Thank you to technology wiz Dwight D for pointing this out!

There IS a way to insert screen captures into GMail.

Yes, there is a way to insert images into GMail, you just have to know this buried trick:

1 In GMail, click Settings at the top right.
2 Click Labs at the top.
3 Scroll down and enable Inserting Images.
4 Scroll to the bottom and click Save Changes.

Now you can insert images into GMail by clicking the Insert Image icon on the Compose Mail toolbar. The icon looks like a tiny photograph. After clicking the icon, a window opens for selecting the desired image.

And, here's a great way to grab the file path to recent screen captures. On the capture bar, click the mini-viewer, then use the mouse wheel to scroll to the desired image. Right-click the image, then click Copy File Path.

Use OCR to convert screen captures into editable text.

What's needed to convert screen captures into editable text is Optical Character Recognition (OCR). OCR is not yet a feature of CaptureWiz, but many scanners and multi-function machines come with OCR you can use. It's easy. For example, here's how to use the OmniPage OCR that comes with ScanSoft's PaperPort, which comes with many Brother printers.

1 Save the screen capture to your desktop, preferably as a PNG file.
2 Open the PaperPort software.
3 Drag the saved PNG file from your desktop to the Notepad icon at the bottom of the PaperPort window.
4 Notepad opens with the converted, editable text.

For frequent use, you may be able to wire CaptureWiz's Editor button to your OCR program. Here's how:

Magic recording button in VideoLAN player.

We've recommended the VideoLAN media player for years for playing DVDs. And now the player has a one-click recording feature that simultaneously records whatever's playing. This is much easier than using CaptureWizPro. But there's a trick! To make the little red recording button appear, you must click View / Advanced Controls.

Recordings appear in your My Documents folder with the extension ASF. On the computer we tested, "Windows Media Video 9" format was used. You can specify a different output folder at Tools / Preferences / Input & Codecs / "Record directory or filename". Thank customer Henry S. for providing us the incentive to figure this out.

How to show time or duration in your recordings.

Here's an easy way to show duration in your recordings, just drag the recording toolbar into the recording area. To record the time & date, we simply drag the Windows clock into the recording area. To open the Windows clock, right-click the taskbar clock then click Adjust Date/Time.

Circumvent ZoneAlarm screen capture blocking.

Some annoying security programs block screen capture, such as ZoneAlarm's Forcefield Extreme Security Space Shield Laser Defense System and Firewall. We've compiled new tips from our smartest customers who found ways to circumvent this so called "security". Thank you to all those who contributed!

Trick for inserting screen captures into Outlook emails.

When an email's format is set to Text Only, screen captures can't be inserted. To fix it, click Format on the email's menu bar, then checkmark HTML Thanks to Troy G for helping us discover this trick.

Burn recordings to DVD for free with Windows 7.

Here's how to use Windows DVD Maker, which is included free with Microsoft Vista and Windows 7, to burn recordings to DVD such that they play on any DVD player.

1 On the PixelMetrics player, click Convert and convert the recording to WMV format.

2 Insert a blank DVD.

3 On the pop-up dialog, click Burn a DVD video disc using Windows DVD Maker.

4 In Windows DVD Maker, follow the on-screen instructions.

Prior to Vista, you needed to buy "DVD authoring" software to create a "DVD video" disk.

How to play CWP recordings on Macintosh.

Thank you to customer Dao N. for discovering an easy way to play CWP recordings on a Macintosh! First, use the PixelMetrics player to convert the recordings to WMV format. Then, on your Mac, install the free Windows Media Player for Mac and use it to play WMV files from CWP or anywhere else.

Best settings for maximum recording speed.

In our tests, display settings have a big impact on recording speed. You can record 70% faster by not using the glassy Aero interface. Record 80% faster by switching from 32-bit to 16-bit color. Record 70% faster by not using large fonts, now called "DPI scaling". Slow drives and slow graphics cards also make a huge difference. We saw a 50% difference just between two monitors on one computer, because the older monitor used a slower PCI interface.

Trick for splitting scroll captures into pages.

We suggest saving long scroll captures in the new Microsoft XPS format. It splits the giant image into separate pages inside one XPS file. You can then give the XPS file to others, view the pages in the Windows Explorer preview pane, or, here's the key benefit, easily print the whole thing on separate pages.

Here's how. After capture, on the output toolbar, click Print, then, for Printer, select Microsoft XPS Document Writer.

Pasting screen captures into Windows Mail.

In the new Windows Mail program, the capability to paste images is strangely turned off by default. Instead, all you see is an empty rectangle and the misleading message, "One or more pictures could not be found." According to Microsoft, this inconvenience is for your own safety. To heck with that! Here's how turn the capability back on:

1 In Windows Mail, click Tools / Safety Options / Security.
2 Uncheck "Block images and other external content in HTML e-mail."


Customer story: Fixing blank captures.

Thanks to Hamilton A., we discovered what might be a common misunderstanding about turning off hardware acceleration to capture from media players. You need to turn off the media player's acceleration BEFORE making the recording.

For more details, see "Blank recordings from media players" here:

Why the world needed a new video format, CaptureWiz Media (CWM).

Today's video formats don't work well for screen capture. To achieve the high speed, accuracy, synchronization and unlimited capacity people want, I developed the new CaptureWiz Media (CWM) format. After recording, you can easily convert videos to standard AVI, WMV or GIF format.

Outlook Express sometimes sends two emails.

Customer Dale C reported that sometimes clicking CaptureWiz's Email button embarrassingly sends two emails!? We figured out that the problem only happens when using Outlook Express and it's RUNNING when you send the email. It's true when sending email from other programs to Outlook Express as well, such as Microsoft Paint. The rather non-intuitive fix is to simply close Outlook Express before sending email to it.

Blank captures caused by Norton Internet Security, new fix.

Hero of the day, Rick W., found a way to stop Norton from blocking screen captures and he provided screenshots showing how! See the fix and full discussion here:

Microphone problems

We've noticed computer microphones seem to quit at the worst times. Like when answering VOIP calls or starting a web conference and the other party hears nothing but silence. You can scream so loud the microphone's covered with spit but it does no good - they're thousands of miles away and still can't hear you. What's up with that? Well, here's what we figured out and what to do about it.

First, we (we means me, Dave) keep forgetting all the little switches. There's often a mute switch on the microphone's wire or base. The switch is so small it's hard to tell its state. Does "on" mean "muted", off, or on - who knows? When you figure it out, cover it with tape.

Then, we have a nice switch for switching the computer's audio output between the computer's speakers, our stereo system or a headset. Despite the complexity, we can't give up the great sound of free Pandora.com internet radio over the high-power stereo system. But darn, that switches OFF the headset microphone.

Now for the more difficult problems. We test a lot of multi-media software. Bad programs do two things that mess up microphones. First, they change the default recording channel. Here's how to change it back:

1 Click Windows Start / Control Panel / Sounds and Audio Devices.
2 Click the Audio tab.
3 Under Sound Recording, click the Volume button.
4 Under the Microphone channel, click Select.

Second, rogue programs may permanently install a custom audio driver. Here's how to switch back to your audio card's default driver:

1 Click Windows Start / Control Panel / Sounds and Audio Devices.
2 Click the Audio tab.
3 Under Sound Recording, Default device, select your audio card.

You may have to restart the computer for the changes to take effect.

Finally, even if all the settings are correct, audio cards sometimes act, shall we say, funny, illogically, unpredictably.

We were thrilled to finally figure out how to fix the microphone channel on one computer's SoundBlaster card. It would never work if, when the computer shut down, the recording channel was set to What-You-Hear, a common occurrence. Start the computer, select the Microphone channel, and it wouldn't work. Big :-(

What's the fix? Simple. Just select any channel OTHER THAN MICROPHONE, then immediately select the Microphone channel. That's it! Strange, but it works, who knows why? Maybe it'll work for your audio card.

Does your security program block screen capture?

Here´s the update we promised about security programs blocking screen capture. It turns out, there´re only two programs that do this, Norton Internet Security 2008 and ZoneAlarm ForceField.

For Norton, the “protection’ seems erratic. If you´re one of the lucky, or unlucky, “protected’ users, turn off “Crimeware Protection’ to restore screen capture.

As for ZoneAlarm, the so-called “ForceField’ is apparently off by default, disengaged, so it shouldn´t be blocking capture. But it still seems to cause problems for many customers. If that´s you, we recommend using a different browser. Apparently, ForceField only “protects’ Internet Explorer.

Here´re all the comments and solutions posted by customers:

Thank you to all those generous, wise and attractive contributors!

Record Google Earth´s cool, new flight feature using CaptureWizPro

You could get Google Earth Pro for $400, or record flights using CaptureWizPro. We´re thrilled to host some awesome videos of flights to the remote islands of Vanuatu and tips generously put together by customer Doctor Henk Meuzelaar:

Outlook users may need to turn on PNG support.

If you use Microsoft Outlook, you may need to add support for PNG files. CaptureWiz uses PNG files for copy and paste functions. Note, this tip does not apply to users of Outlook Express, the email program that comes free with Windows.

1 In Microsoft Word, click Tools / Options.
2 On the General tab, click Web Options.
3 On the Browsers tab, checkmark Allow PNG as graphics format.

Sending screen captures to Paint Shop Pro

With CaptureWizPro, you can open your captures in Paint Shop Pro (or other image editors) with just one click. We´ve just uploaded new instructions for how to configure this handy feature here: