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I need to create simple User Manuals/ Handbook/Documentaions / HowTo's for my web application. My idea is not to create a lot of text but to document every step I do with screenshots. I prefer screenshots more then videos, as the output is going to be a static document.

I'm looking for a free tool to achieve my needs. My OS is Windows 7.

One tool I found which meets somehow my needs is the psr.exe on windows (Problem Step Recorder). This tool takes screenshots on every mouse click, but the output is a mhtml file. If you want to process the screenshots further you need to covert to the mhtml fite to html and rename the files to different file types. As this tool is not developed for taking screenshots and making a end user manual, it doesn 't really make my life easier.

So I'm looking for a tool, which creates on every mouse click screenshots and saves it somewhere. It would be cool if there will be some editing functions as well.

  • If the 'static document' is going to be online, you could consider using a gif... – ᔕᖺᘎᕊ Jan 31 '15 at 12:53
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    Thank you, but I think a gif is not a option for me – user21399 Jan 31 '15 at 15:38
  • I think "whenever I want (e.g. with a hot key)" is a better option for you then "on every mouse click". – Jan Doggen Apr 3 '15 at 12:32
  • There's a whole list here: Free Screen Capture Applications – Jan Doggen Apr 3 '15 at 12:38
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I write how-to documentation and have been just muscling-through. I didn't know about that psr.exe tool, so I will check it out. I have been using the Snipping Tool, and found a few useful options within it. For example, the Snipping tool has an option to take a window, not just your selection.

Snipping Tool options

You can do a window as well as free form. Once captured, the image is on the clipboard. If you somehow lose it on the clipboard, you can select the Snipping Tool window, press CTRL-A (for select all) and then CTRL-C (for copy) and then it's back on the clipboard.

I have used Screenshot Captor on Windows XP before I upgraded to Windows 7. It's a full featured tool with lots of options. I used this for making documentation in a class I took, but haven't used it in a professional environment. I probably should, since it might make my life easier.

Screenshot Captor

enter image description here

You can grab windows, take rapid screenshots, preview the screenshot before saving (or just save it for later), and it looks like they have added a bunch of other new features. I think the most useful feature in your case would be the rapid screenshot capability.

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I'd recommend taking a look at Greenshot (see my answer here for details). It's especially well-suited for your case. Let me describe a scenario:

  • You press the PrtScn key on your keyboard – a big cross-hair pops up on your desktop, letting you select the area to capture.
  • Having defined and confirmed the area, a menu pops up and let's you e.g. either directly save the screenshot to a file, or open it in Greenshot's editor.
  • Chosing the last mentioned option, you can directly edit your screenshot – add text, frames, arrows, and more to "document" your screenshot or set references for your documentation
  • Now save it, and you've got a perfect (and optionally annotated) screenshot for your documentation.

To speed things up, ShiftPrtScn captures the same region again, AltPrtScn captures the focused window, and CtrlPrtScn the entire screen.

Greenshot is available for free, and I'm using it for years already.

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While not free (so you can stop reading here if that's really a must), one of the best applications out there to assist in creating step-by-step documents, is Clarify. I've been using it for years now and it has become essential whenever I need to document something.

Some of it's features:

  • Easy creation of step-by-step instructions with images (screenshots) and text.
  • Images can be annotated
  • Several output formats available (e.g. PDF, Word, ... ) as well as online publication through the free Clarify-it site, Wordpress, ... .
  • ...

It's a cross-platform application, available for both OSX and Windows.

Have a look at the tour featured on the site to see if it fits your needs. There's a free trial available should you decide to give it a spin.

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