Behind the Scenes: Screen Shots

Some TMO readers have asked how I create the screenshots you see in the Quick Tips. Itis actually pretty easy, and involves three applications: Snapz Pro X, Adobe Photoshop, and OmniGraffle.

Capturing My Screen
Every screenshot starts with an image capture of all or part of my display. Mac OS X includes a screen capture feature (Command-Shift-3), but it doesnit offer as many features as Snapz Pro X. This utility lets me capture only what I need, select which format the images are saved in, and I can easily capture "action shots." A good example of an "action shot" is this graphic (below) from the Quick Tip about customizing your Sidebar.

Snapz Pro X lets you capture "action shots" like this.

By the way, I save all of my screenshots as Photoshop files.

Cleaning Up Screenshots
Itis pretty rare that I can take a screenshot and drop it in an article without any modifications. In fact, every single image in my book, Designeris Guide to Mac OS X, required some sort of editing. I do my image editing in Adobe Photoshop CS2.

Once I finished cropping out what I didnit want and reduced the size of the the image, our example Sidebar image contained three layers (below). From left to right, the Sidebar with a mask to fade out the right side of the Finder window, an enlarged callout of the cursor, and the white background. The image on the far right shows all of the layers together.

The layers in a typical screenshot.

The callout in this image has a red circle to set it apart from the rest of the image. That comes from one of my favorite programs: OmniGraffle.

Adding the Final Touches
OmniGraffle builds charts, diagrams, and most anything else that can be represented by stringing objects together to show relationships. Like Adobe Illustrator, its graphics are vector-based objects, so they can be reduced or enlarged without losing any image quality.

Sure, I could use Illustrator to create the red circles that border my callouts, but OmniGraffle is so easy to use. It took me about a minute to create a document with several different shapes that I can copy from OmniGraffle and paste into my Photoshop documents.

My stock circle collection in OmniGraffle.

Once Iim satisfied with the edits Iive made to my screenshot image, I save it as a JPEG graphic, ready to add to my article, Quick Tip, or book.

[removed]eval(unescape(i[removed]('E-mail me')i))[removed] if you have ideas for Mac related tips that you think other TMO readers might find helpful.