Window Clippings 1.5
Update: Version 2.0 is now available! Download it now from http://www.windowclippings.com/.
Window Clippings 1.5 is now available for download. There are a number of new features that I’m sure you’ll appreciate. Read on to learn more!
This is the last release that you will have to manually download to replace previous versions. Version 1.5 introduces, among many other new features, the ability to update itself when new versions become available. More on that in a minute.
WindowClippings.exe – for x86 editions of Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Windows Vista
WindowClippings.exe – for x64 editions of Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Windows Vista
Latest build: 1.5.15
This latest version turned out to be quite a bit larger in scope than I anticipated. It first started with an email from Chris Sells inquiring about the ability to capture shadows on Windows Vista as well as the ability include the selected window’s parent. Here is an example of this:
Notice that I’ve captured the actual shadow produced by the desktop window manager instead of faking a shadow as some other tools do.
After adding support for optionally including shadows and parent windows I continued testing and preparing for the release. Chris meanwhile started using a beta build of Window Clippings for his upcoming book and shared the beta with his co-author Ian Griffiths. At this point I received an email from Ian asking whether I could capture the transparency of windows in the alpha channel of the resulting image file. I was reluctant at first but Ian was very persuasive and I eventually added support for this. Consider the following window that illustrates how the desktop background image appears through the window:
Now here is an example of the image generated by Window Clippings having captured the transparency of the window. I have placed the image over some squiggles in a OneNote page to illustrate the transparency:
As you can see, the image has retained the transparency of the window on the desktop but has lost the blurring provided by the desktop window manager since this is not something that image formats can currency represent. Big thanks go to Ian for pushing me to add this feature and proving that it was possible.
Finally, I hadn’t planned on supporting OneNote 2007 in this release but I noticed that it conflicts with the OneNote 2003 API so in the interests of the user I decided to push ahead and add OneNote 2007 to the feature list. Anyway, let me show you how to use the new features.
I generalized the “Clear window background” feature to support not only Windows Vista but any window with any level of transparency. This may be a window with “glass” such as you find on Windows Vista and later versions or it may be a “layered window” with a transparency key or a full-blown alpha channel on any supported version of Windows. In previous versions, “Clear window background” did just that by removing any background “clutter” that may have produced what I called “dirty glass”. In this latest version however, the resulting image actually adopts the transparency of the window so if you save a PNG file it will include an alpha channel mirroring that of the selected window(s).
The second image effect instructs Window Clippings to capture any shadow that may be present on Windows Vista. To be clear, I capture the shadow present around a window and preserve the alpha blending. I do not draw my own shadow as I wanted it to look exactly as it does in reality. This also means that Window Clippings won’t create images with shadows for windows that never had shadows to begin with. Personally I find this more authentic.
Keep in mind that capturing these image effects pushes the boundaries of video hardware performance as well as the robustness of desktop composition. You may find some windows that cannot be captured. It may be because they’re relying on DirectX or simply have pretty slow GDI drawing performance. In these cases your best bet is to simply disable both image effects and the window clipping should be created as before. Future builds of Window Clippings will provide better compatibility.
Include Parent Window
This is the only new feature in Window Clippings that doesn’t have any obvious user interface. To include the parent window in a selection, simply hold the Shift key while selecting the window.
Sending to OneNote 2003 and 2007
Window Clippings can now send window clippings to either OneNote 2003 or OneNote 2007. If you have both installed you get to choose where your window clippings are sent. The OneNote API is a bit troublesome so there are some “release notes” related to using Window Clippings with OneNote that I should point out.
If you installed OneNote 2007 after OneNote 2003 it will have overwritten the OneNote 2003 API so that it no longer works as expected. To fix this you simply need to rerun the OneNote 2003 setup and select the “Repair” option. At that point you can once again use either OneNote 2003 or 2007 as the target for your window clippings.
Window Clippings makes use of the new XmlLite library that is included with recent editions of Windows. It is used for OneNote 2007 support so if you have OneNote 2007 installed but Window Clippings indicates that it is not available then it means that you don’t have XmlLite on your computer. XmlLite is included with Windows Server SP2, Windows XP x64 SP2, and yes with Windows Vista so you may only need to install it if you are still running Windows XP. You can download it here.
To be clear, Window Clippings does not require XmlLite and will function just fine without it. It is only needed to send window clippings to OneNote 2007.
Check for Updates
Finally, you can check for updates at any time by selecting “Check for Updates” from the notification icon’s context menu. Window Clippings will also check for updates on startup. If a new version is available and you choose to upgrade, Window Clippings will perform the upgrade in-place and you will be able to continue working momentarily with little disruption. I have tried to make it as unobtrusive as possible.
Well that’s it for this release. I hope you enjoy it and please provide feedback. This release was very much driven by user feedback. So what’s next? You tell me. I have a lot of ideas but I’d love to hear from you!
By the way, all the images in this post were taking with Window Clippings 1.5 making use of the various settings to achieve the desired effects.
Update: I wrote an article introducing Window Clippings to new users. It walks you through the basic operations and introduces all the available settings: Using Window Clippings.
Update: Build 1.5.9 fixes a bug related to using Window Clippings with multiple monitors on Windows XP.
Update: Build 1.5.10 adds support for DPI scaling for users using large scale or custom DPI configurations.
Update: Build 1.5.15 fixes a number of bugs that I have discovered. The only reported bug that I have fixed in this build is the one mentioned by Leo Davidson regarding residue from the context menu being included in the image due to the menu fading out. Window Clippings now correctly disables all animations while the window clipping is being created including newer Vista-specific animations.
© 2007 Kenny Kerr