Sunday, April 10, 2016

PicPick: A Better Way to Capture and Annotate Screenshots

I just started creating online courses in Canvas. Since a lot of them are edtech-related, I need a quick way to take screenshots of digital tools, annotate them, then add them to my modules.

My go-to for screenshots has always been the Windows Snipping Tool. The problem is that the Snipping Tool only allows really basic drawing on screenshots. I was having to put my snips into Google Draw to add arrows, text, and the other items to annotate them. Then I'd download the image. Then I'd upload it to Canvas.

This workflow wasn't working.

So in the hunt for a better way to annotate my screen captures, I found the unbelievably free (for personal or non-commercial use) PicPick. Here are the 5 features I'm already loving about this simple but powerful tool.

  1. Set hotkeys for different types of screen captures.

    Whether you want to capture your entire screen, a scrolling window, a region, or grab a capture freehand, PicPick lets you set up customizable hotkeys for all of them. And if you have one type of capture you use repeatedly, there's a hotkey for simply repeating your last capture. I'm a keyboard shortcut addict, so this feature addresses my need for mouse-free efficiency.

  2. Quickly add text and arrows. 

    If you're developing a training and trying to show a teacher where to log in, you need an arrow. As soon as PicPick's image editor opens, select "Stamps" and you'll get an array of options for arrows and a number of other pointy things you might need. Additionally, you can add text on top of your snip to point out what that arrow is there for.

  3. Easily add numbers.

    I tried to do this in Google Draw by creating a text box, copying it, and typing in a different number each time. This is a pain. Back to PicPicks "Stamps" feature: if you choose a number stamp, it will increase each time you use it. In the example below, it makes identifying the different parts of TweetDeck a breeze.

  4. Pixelate or blur sections of your screenshot.

    Maybe your bookmarks bar reveals just a little too much of your personal life. Or perhaps you don't want your email address showing up in the top-right corner of your training materials. Whatever the reason, you can simply select a section of your snip, then pixelate or blur it to keep it under wraps.

  5. One-click sharing to almost anywhere.

    Once you're ready to share your beautifully annotated snip, you can upload it to a site like Imgur, a cloud service like Google Drive, share it through Facebook, Twitter, email, or send it directly to Microsoft Office and Skype. If you're working on training documentation in Word, you can keep one document open, and PicPick will add your new screenshots to it wherever your cursor is currently located. Amazing.

These five features just scratch the surface of this free, powerful little tool. If you create screenshots for anything, you're going to want to give this a go right away.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Chrome Extension: Search Google Drive from the Omnibox

I realized today how much time I waste by going to Google Drive first and then searching for a file. Chrome already allows you to search the web from the Omnibox, shouldn't you be able to search your Drive, too?

The answer is yes. And the creators of the "Quick Search for Google Drive" Chrome extension are making it possible.

This is going to quickly become my most used extension. After you install it, any time you want to search your Drive, just type "drive" in the Omnibox, hit space, then type the name of the file you're looking for. Quick Search will  autocomplete your search results and you just select your file from the list.

Grab "Quick Search" now and watch it quickly become a part of your everyday workflow with Google Drive.