Creating and Modifying Screenshots, Using Apple
OS, Adobe Photoshop CS2, and Microsoft Word
Screenshots, also referred to as “screen captures,” are at the heart of
documentation for computer products: hardware, software, and peripherals.
Each time a user completes a step, the screen “changes” to reflect the result.
Very often, users will look at their screens to confirm that they are completing
installations and processes correctly.
This documentation covers programs and processes involved with creating
screenshots on an Apple computer:
Creating a full-screen screenshot
Creating a partial-screen or object-based screenshot
Modifying screenshots, using Adobe Photoshop CS
Inserting screenshots into a Microsoft Word 2003 document
Labeling screenshots in Microsoft Word 2003
The first two sections of this tutorial cover creating screenshots. We will create
two kinds of screenshots: a full-screen capture and a partial-screen or isolated
NOTE: Industry professionals, students, educators, and consumers often use
“screenshot” and “screen capture” interchangeably. We will use the term
“screenshot” here, except in those cases where clarity of presentation
necessitates the term “screen capture.”
We assume that you have each of the necessary programs installed on your
computer, know how to create/open/save files, locate the drop-down menus
within each program, and can comfortably move back and forth between several
programs and windows.
Creating a full-screen screenshot
1. Simultaneously click on the Shift, Apple, and 3 keys. Your screenshot
will appear on the desktop with the name Picture 1.
2. Open Adobe Photoshop CS2, and then open the Picture 1 file.
We will resize our screenshot, so that it is suitable for use in an 8 ½ X 11
document. Resizing our document to 500-600 pixels in width will ensure a
screenshot large enough to show detail, but small enough to fit comfortably on
the page without overwhelming text.
3. Go to Image > Image Size. The Image Size dialog box will appear.
4. Within the Pixel Dimensions section, set the Width of your
screenshot to 500 pixels. Your screenshot will now look like this:
5. Save your screenshot with a file name you’ll easily recognize later,
when you’re placing multiple screenshots into your documentation.
This screenshot lacks detail, but it is designed to illustrate the overall working
area for PageMaker. We will work later with isolating and labeling specific
sections, so that they are more visible.
Creating a partial-screen or object-based screenshot
When working with items such as dialog boxes, toolbars, and toolboxes, you’ll
find that a partial-screen or object-based screenshot will more efficiently convey
information to your users.
IMPORTANT: Before beginning, make sure the item you want to capture
doesn’t have files or other items overlapped on top of, or below, it.
1. Simultaneously press Shift > Apple > 4. Your cursor will take the
shape of a “scope.”
2. Trace around the item you wish to include in your screenshot, and then
release the mouse. Your screenshot has been created, and is now
saved on the desktop as Picture 2.
Your screenshot is now ready to be modified within Photoshop, for eventual
placement into a document.
Modifying screenshots, using Adobe Photoshop CS2
Unless your screenshot is fairly small in physical and/or file size, you’ll need to
modify it by using an image-editing program such as Photoshop. You may be
saying to yourself, “I’ve put images into a Word file before and then clicked and
dragged on them to resize them. Isn’t that all I need to do?”
No. And here’s why:
Images placed into a Microsoft Word document will appear to “resize” on their
own, as you may have noticed with the screenshot above. You may also “click
and drag” the image to make it smaller or larger. If you’re in a hurry and know
that you won’t need to use these images within another program, this approach is
OK. But we generally don’t recommend this approach for working with images
for the following reasons:
You’re not altering the image’s actual dimensional size
You’re not altering the image’s resolution, or file size
You cannot change the image’s file extension – from PDF to GIF, for
You might need to use the images within a document created using a
different program. Other programs – particularly web-authoring programs
– will only recognize the image’s original attributes.
1. With your image file open, go to View > Actual Pixels, so that you
can see your screenshot at full size. Then go to Image > Image Size,
so that you can reduce your screenshot to dimensions that are better
proportioned for documentation printed in the format you choose – 8 ½
X 11 document, brochure, web page, postcard, etc. The Image Size
dialog box will appear:
In this case, since we have taken a screenshot of the entire screen, the
dimensions are 1280 X 1024 pixels – too large for effective use within a
standard Microsoft Word document. We will resize our image to 500
2. Go to Image > Image Size, as shown below:
The Image Size dialog box will appear:
4. Click the Constrain Proportions box, so that height and width will adjust
proportionately. Then change the Width in the Pixel Dimensions field to
500. Because proportions have been constrained, the height will
automatically change to 400 pixels. Click the OK button, located in the
upper right-hand corner. Your image will now measure 500 X 400 pixels –
a much more manageable size!
NOTE: If you’re working with a full-screen screenshot, or a screenshot of
an item containing several buttons, text boxes, toolbars, control panels,
and the like, avoid the temptation of using an image that’s too much larger
than 500 pixels across for an 8.5 X 11 sheet. If working with a brochure,
images must be much smaller – each panel represents a “page,” and a tri-
fold brochure measures one-third the size of an 8.5 X 11 sheet. Too-large
screenshots overshadow important text, and make the page look too
Draw attention to these smaller items by using labels, which we’ll discuss
later, or by doing a full-screen screenshot and cropping unwanted material
out by selecting wanted material and going to Image > Crop.
Be careful, too, not to use screenshots that are too small. Users need to
see a certain degree of detail within the entire screenshot. If we have to
get out the magnifying glass, the entire document will fail to meet usability
standards – thus undermining the document’s existence and rendering
useless all of the hard work that writers, editors, designers, testers,
production personnel, management, and the entire
company/organization/institution put into it!
5. Go to File > Save For Web. The Save For Web window will appear:
NOTE: We will retain the default settings and save our file as a GIF, so
that we can quickly incorporate the image into a web page, if necessary.
Web browsers recognize the PDF file format, but the GIF format is more
suitable for screenshots and other graphics that don’t depend heavily on
color. Save the PDF file format for documents saved as images. JPEGs,
also recognized by web browsers, are also suitable for the web; this
format is best suited for photographs.
IMPORTANT: Be sure to keep copies of your original screenshots. If you
have resized an image and saved it, then decided to resize that image and
save it again, image quality will diminish. After two or three times of
modifying and re-saving a screenshot, the image will be so blurry that
users will be unable to read text or locate buttons.
6. Check the image settings, located on the right-hand side of the screen, as
Since GIF is already selected, we will leave these settings alone.
7. Click the Save button. The Save Optimized As dialog box will appear:
8. Name your file and specify a location to which your file will be saved.
IMPORTANT: Save image files with one-word, lowercase names.
Spaces between words aren’t an issue when inserting images into a
Microsoft Word document – but they are when placing images into
documents to be placed on the Web. Web browsers cannot recognize
spaces, nor can they recognize apostrophes. And because the web is
case-sensitive, avoid using capital letters when possible.
NOTE: When writing documentation, it’s easy to keep track of
screenshots by naming them in successive order, according to the
program being documented. Example: photoshopshot1
You may also need to occasionally crop screenshots. Here are a few
common reasons for doing so:
“Extra” portions of the image need to be trimmed off
You took a full-screen screenshot so that users could see an item’s
location relative to other items and/or to the screen
You took a full-screen screenshot because you were unsure how much
of the image you would use.
To crop an image, choose the Rectangular Marquee Tool from the
Toolbar and draw around the area that you would like to keep. Then go
to Image > Crop.
Now that we have created and edited a screenshot, it’s time to place it into
a Microsoft Word document.
Inserting screenshots into a Microsoft Word document
As mentioned earlier, screenshots are essential components of computer-related
documentation because they illustrate written steps and results. Because the
target audience for our documentation consists of students new to Macs and/or
who are sitting in a Mac classroom for the first time, you will need a screenshot to
illustrate each result. Depending on the complexity of the action needed to
complete a step, you may also need screenshots illustrating actions taken as the
user completes the step.
1. After opening a Microsoft Word document, click below the text of the
numbered step to which your screenshot corresponds. Remember,
continuous downward reading flow is best.
2. Go to Insert > Picture > From File, as shown below:
The Choose a Picture dialog box will appear:
3. Select the file location from the second drop-down menu, if it doesn’t
already appear. Then select the image file you wish to place into your
document. Finally, click the Insert button, and your screenshot will
We’ve gone through the basics of creating, editing, and inserting screenshots.
Now we can enhance our documentation’s usability by labeling screenshots with
shaded boxes, arrows, and captions.
Labeling screenshots in Microsoft Word
Microsoft Word offers a host of desktop publishing tools, including the items we’ll
need to create labels for our screenshots: text boxes, arrows, and circles.
Labeling is necessary when a screenshot contains too much detail for users to
quickly find boxes, buttons, and other items referenced.
Here’s a screenshot of the control panel that opens when the user selects
Photoshop’s Save For Web option:
Visible within the control panel are the menu, the image to be saved, the toolbox
on the left, the toolbar immediately below the menu, some items at the bottom of
the control panel, and an area to the right which contains several buttons, drop-
down boxes, text boxes, and tabs.
How can we expect users, especially those who may not have used this program
before, to find a single button amid all this content? That’s where labels come in!
First, we’ll create a colored box to draw attention to the control panel. Then, we’ll
create an arrow and caption to point to size/download time information in the
bottom left-hand corner of the image. Finally, we’ll create a colored circle to
highlight the document-view tabs in the upper right-hand corner.
1. Go to Insert > Text Box. The cursor will change shape again – this time,
to a plus sign.
2. Move the textbox to where it needs to go by clicking on a border after
ensuring you have a four-directional cursor. Resize it by clicking on a
border after ensuring you have a two-directional cursor. Your text box
will appear, as shown in the example below:
3. Select the text box – currently outlined, with eight white circles – and go to
Format > Text Box. The Format Text Box dialog box will appear:
3. With Colors and Lines selected, set Fill Transparency to 100
percent, so that your user can see the item that your label points out.
Then set the line color and weight, according to size of the item
labeled. Click OK. Here’s the screenshot from the beginning of this
section, now labeled:
To make the text box larger or smaller, select the text box. Then click and drag on one of
the handlebars (squares) at the edges of the outlined text box. Use the handlebars at the
top or bottom to modify height, and the handlebars at the sides to modify width.
If you would like to retain the box’s proportions while resizing it, click on one of the corner
handlebars and drag diagonally. Otherwise, you’ll resize length or width only, depending
on which handlebar you’ve clicked.
To move the text box, click on an area inside the text box and drag it to the desired
After you have completed modifications, click on an area away from the text box to de-
To work with labels consisting of arrows and captions, follow the steps for
creating text boxes, with the following modifications:
Since the text box will contain a caption, retain the default Fill color (white)
and change the Border color from black to transparent.
If the text box will sit within the screenshot, you may opt to use transparent
fill or a color that will look good with the color of the screenshot.
To create the arrow, click on the arrow icon located in the toolbar at the
bottom of your document. Select an arrow style and width from within the
Format Text Box dialog box.
You may change the length of an arrow by following the steps for
changing the size of a text box.
To change the width or color of an arrow, select the arrow and right-click.
Here’s a sample screenshot, labeled with an arrow and caption:
NOTE: I used a three-row, three-column table with invisible borders. The
image is in the center cell, and the arrow/tagline combination is contained
in the left-center cell. Using a three-row, three-column table helps keep
elements in place – especially important if there are several
arrows/taglines placed on more than one side of the image.
Now, let’s work with colored circles – suitable for drawing attention to smaller
items located too far within a screenshot for an arrow/tagline combination to
be used effectively.
Click on the Circle icon, located within the toolbar at the bottom of the
document. You’ll see a message at the bottom of the document directing
you to Click and Drag to Insert an AutoShape.
Click and drag around the area you wish to encircle; then release. Your
circle – which may look more like an oval, depending on the hand motion
you used – will appear.
Click and drag on the handlebars, to shape and/or re-size the item. Click
within the item and drag, to move it.
To modify Border and Fill, follow the steps for formatting text boxes.
Here’s our sample screenshot, using a circle to highlight the View tabs on the
top left-hand corner of the image:
IMPORTANT: All labels used within this tutorial were created within
Microsoft Word. If you wish to use labeled screenshots within a document
created by another program, you will need to take a screenshot of the
screenshot in order to integrate the labels with the screenshot. Otherwise,
your labels will not appear with the screenshot when you insert it into the
Congratulations! You’ve successfully navigated one of the more difficult
aspects of documentation writing, and of this course as a whole. Now that
you’ve created informative, helpful, usable documentation, it’s time to put
your project to the test – literally – as you will work with another Software
Documentation Project team to complete documentation review and