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FastStone Capture 7.9

Released 29th July 2014

Download Page

New in Version 7.9

Key FeaturesScreen RecorderRecording Software TutorialsThe FastStone Editor

FastStone has many features that I find useful. It uses different modifier key combinations with the PrintScrn key to capture different areas. It is only $19.95 for a lifetime license. An old version, FastStone Capture 5.3, which is free for Home Users, has all of the basic features.

Key Features

FastStone Settings DialogueCapture Settings

The capture tab of the settings dialogue offers options for launching FastStone on Windows startup, automatically minimising to the Windows System Tray is the most convenient and the least intrusive.

Hotkeys

The default hot keys are sensible and not hard to remember. Mostly I use PrintScreen or Alter PrintScreen. F12 will bring up the options dialogue when it is the active application. Here you can change the shortcuts to use any modifier keys with PrintScreen. If you want to capture FastStone’s own dialogues, disable the PrintScreen by pressing the spacebar to set “None” as the shortcut to capture the active window. Then the Windows clipboard contents can be pasted into any graphics application for editing.

Filename

The filename pattern can be defined for use when saving multiple captures to file, which can also be automatic without showing the FastStone editor for each screen capture. Filename patterns can be saved too, handy when you wish to resume work on a task you started some time ago. If you write program tutorials you will appreciate these sophisticated file naming options.

Auto Save

Choose the default directory for saving files. Choose a photo-editor for the command to open in an external application. Open the output folder or copy to the Windows clipboard (normally, screen capture does not overwrite the Windows clipboard).

FTP

Capture images can also be uploaded directly to a server. Enter your upload details and password to automate the process without opening an FTP program.

Rotate

From the edit menu, rotate the capture left or right, flip it horizontally or vertically, or rotate it to any angle using the slider.

Effects

From the effects menu, apply a drop shadow, blur, reflection, oil-painting, sketch, sepia, negative, or greyscale. Blur a selected part of the capture to hide private details.

Colour-Picker

The Screen Colour Picker displays the colour of the selected pixel in a window with colour values, etc. Clicking on a pixel will open a dialogue where the colour values can be copied to the clipboard as Red, Green, Blue values, or as Hex, or Decimal values. Or it can be set to copy any one of those three values immediately without showing the dialogue.

Screen Magnifier

The Screen Magnifier can be used to zoom in to view details. When capturing a rectangular or freehand area of the screen it enables precise positioning. The magnifier’s zoom factor, shape, size, and negative mode can be changed in the settings dialogue.

Editor

The Close button on the FastStone editor Window can be set to close the program or just minimize it to the system tray. By default, the capture editor will close as soon as you save the capture as a file, but you can have it remain open to continue working. FastStone’s capture editor is a mini graphics editor in its own right and files can be opened in it from Windows Explorer or from its own File menu.

FastStone ToolbarSystem Tray Icon

Left-click the system tray icon to display the toolbar. Click to select a capture area, or change options. Right-click the system tray icon and select an option from the menu. Large toolbar icons option in version 7.4.

Image Save Options

Compression SettingsWhen you save an image from FastStone Capture (I always use PNG because it is lossless), click on the Options button to open the save options dialogue.

The default settings seem to be optimised for saving screen shots of dialogue boxes, but if you’re saving photo-realistic images, you may get much better results by using a filter. Click on the Filter drop down to try the Paeth filter. To optimise file sizes for other images, try setting the compression level to Max (the default level is 6). The dialogue shows what the New file size will be so that you can immediately tell if the choice was a good one for that image. The dialogue may take some time to redraw the image previews if you’re taking screen shots of large, photo-realistic images. The wait is worthwhile, however. A 4 Mbyte image saved without filtering may compress to not much more than 2 Mbytes with filtering. Results tend to be better than IrfanView.

Screen Recorder

Screen Recorder DialogueVersion 6.3 or later includes an option to record screen activity and sound and to save it in a video file. Capture the entire screen, a window, or a rectangular area.

To stop recording, press the F11 key to save the result as a Windows Media Video file. This feature is ideal for making tutorials on how to use computer software.

Version 7.1 includes a pause and resume option, which is very useful for keeping videos short when recording Software tutorials.

Version 7.2 includes an option to edit videos, so that annotations can be added after recording the video. Stop the video at any frame and use the Draw tools to add arrows, text, highlighting etc., to explain the video.

Version 7.3 added options to remove unwanted sections from a screen video, save a video frame to a file or copy it to the clipboard, drag and drop a video file onto the screen recorder's panel to open it in the video editor.

Screen Recorder OptionsOptions Dialogue

The options dialogue allows the user to:

Recording Software Tutorials

  1. Choose the area of the screen to be recorded: Window/Object, Rectangular Area, Fullscreen Without Taskbar, Fullscreen, or Repeat Last Area. I recommend recording software tutorials in a window at 1024 x 768, which most users will be able to view. The small window also reduces the size of the recorded video substantially if you have a high resolution monitor. The video can be maximised in Windows Media Player at playback time to enlarge it.
  2. Optionally, include a Title clip before the video. Add a description, author, copyright details, etc.
  3. Click on Start to begin recording. Make sure that dialogues and toolbars are arranged as you want them to be during the video to minimise distractions caused by moving or resizing dialogues.
  4. Use the software to open menus and dialogues, etc., and perform the functions that you wish to illustrate and explain in the tutorial.
  5. Press the Ctrl F11 shortcut to end recording and open the video for editing (if that is the option set in the Recorder options dialogue).
  6. In the video editor, draw text objects, arrows, etc., just like in the FastStone Editor, to explain what you are doing in the video. By default these annotations will only stay on screen for five seconds. Drag the edge of the green highlight on the Timeline to extend the delay, or move the green highlight to reposition the start and end.
  7. Mark any unwanted sections for deletion. Moving and resizing the cross-hatched marked sections in the timeline as for the text objects.
  8. Save the edited video. Section marked to be cut will not be included in the export, and text objects will be merged with the recording.
  9. If you need to edit the video further, drag and drop it onto the Screen Recorder dialogue.

Some examples of my recorded tutorials can be found on the FontCreator Review Page.

The FastStone Editor

This is where FastStone excels. You can crop, zoom, pan, print, and save the capture in numerous formats, but before you do that you can also draw on the captured image. You don’t need to open screen captures in a photo-editor to add text labels, arrows, etc. You can do it all in FastStone when you capture the image. The screen capture below shows FastStone’s Quick Help page, on top of which I have added some text boxes, highlighting, shapes, an image, arrows, lines, and a number stamp.

FastStone Editor

Tips

  1. To restore the default hot keys, click the Reset button on the Hotkeys tab of the Settings dialogue. The defaults will be restored.
  2. Leave the PrintScreen key unassigned if you want to capture the whole screen including FastStone dialogues, or if you sometimes want to use IrfanView before saving images.
  3. Open saved images in the FastStone Editor to add annotation later.