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.

Image Effects

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.

What’s Next

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 

 

Published Sunday, January 28, 2007 12:37 PM by KennyKerr
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Comments

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Sunday, January 28, 2007 3:30 PM by Martin

Great tool. I really like the new alpha-channel and shadow capture feature and OneNote 2007 support. BTW, there's one small glitch. Sometimes the selected context menu item, e.g. "Save to disk" is visible half-transparently in the screenshot. It seems to be that the screenshot is taken before Windows Vista had time to completely fade out the menu. To reproduce, double click on the WindowsClippings icon, left click on the window to capture, right-click and choose "Save to Disk". It's no big deal, because it only shows up when the selected context menu item is inside the captured area.

Concerning the update feature: Will it make use of Vista's UAC? Or how do you replace the executable in a location where standard users have no write access?

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Sunday, January 28, 2007 5:00 PM by Daniel Moth

Feature request (unless it is in there and I missed it): capture the mouse icon :)

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Sunday, January 28, 2007 5:14 PM by KennyKerr

Martin: thanks for the feedback.

I am aware of the problem with the residue from the context menu. This problem was introduced with Windows Vista. On XP, I solved this problem by disabling the animation on the menu but the DWM ignores this setting and still fades the menu away too slowly. A solution is in the works.

The update feature will not work if the standard user does not have write-access to the folder. Again, a solution is in the works. I just did not have time to add the UAC prompt support in this release.

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Monday, January 29, 2007 4:26 AM by Mike

I'm seeing some extra black pixels around a window when it's near the edge of the virtual desktop. Take a shot of the Taskbar and you'll see it.

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Monday, January 29, 2007 11:17 AM by KennyKerr

Mike: if you enable “Include window shadow” and the selected window is near the edge of the screen you may get some residue as the shadow extends beyond the screen. For regular top-level windows simply move the window away from the edge. I need to add some compat shims for windows like the task bar. I already do that for other windows that behave out of the ordinary.

# Can't grab admin windows

Monday, January 29, 2007 11:35 AM by Leo Davidson

If WindowClippings is running as a normal user it cannot grab the windows of applications running as an administrator. In fact, you can't even click on them.

I found this really confusing at first but now that I realised it was the admin windows which I can't click on it makes sense. A user-level process can't even validate an admin process's window handle, let alone interact with it.

I wonder if there's a graceful way to handle this, or if it's just something to mention in the release notes, or perhaps a reason to always run the tool with admin rights. Up to you, but I thought I'd let you know.

By the way, it looks like a really nice tool. I've been wishing something could capture non-rectangular windows to a PNG with alpha channel ever since Windows XP came out! Capturing the shadows and full alpha translucency of Vista windows is a bonus and a surprise!

It's a shame the glass blur can't be captured in some way... I could be done with photoshop layer effects but I imagine it's a lot of work to (a) work out how to save a PSD file with the required information and (b) work out the mask for the blur effect (since not everything translucent is necessarily going to be blurred). Anyway, that's pie in the sky; for most windows where only the border is translucent we can simply blur everything under them in Photoshop if we really want the blur effect.

Thanks for the tool!

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Monday, January 29, 2007 11:49 AM by KennyKerr

Leo: thanks for the feedback.

Yes, Window Clippings cannot communicate with windows that belong to elevated processes. An update is in the works that will allow this with the obligatory UAC elevation prompt.

# Can't get alpha to work.

Monday, January 29, 2007 12:08 PM by Leo Davidson

Just after I wrote the above, I realised that my saved images don't have an alpha channel.

I'm using Version 1.5.8 and have tried various combinations of the two Effects checkboxes with the PNG format, and also tried TIF/BMP just in case (with fewer combinations of options), but whatever I do the images I save have no alpha channel.

Am I doing something wrong? Sorry if I'm being an idiot! Thanks for the quick reply, too. :)

BTW, an elevation prompt sounds like a good idea. If the process were always elevated then the web browser it launches for the help URL would also be elevated. :)

Actually, this could be a useful tool in itself. When running as a normal user, Window Clippings allows you to see which windows are elevated, something you can't see otherwise AFAIK.

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Monday, January 29, 2007 12:40 PM by KennyKerr

A few points to consider regarding transparency:

Only the PNG image format supports transparency. Images sent to OneNote will also retain transparency.

Windows Vista comes with a few different themes and combinations of themes and configuration settings. Some of these produce opaque windows (even with “Aero glass” windows). Make sure your windows are actually translucent (you can see a blurry rendition of the background through the window).

If the window you are capturing has any kind of animation, you ideally need to turn off the animation if you hope to capture a transparent image of it. The alpha channel cannot be calculated while the window content is changing. Good examples of animation are Windows Media Center, which has almost constant animation, and even subtle animation such as the focus/hover animation on themed buttons and other standard controls. Window Clippings will determine that the window has changed while the alpha channel is being calculated and discard the alpha channel since it would be incorrect and result in visible discoloration. This is also a common problem for windows that rely directly or indirectly on DirectX, such as WPF applications.

As long as the window content does not change while the alpha channel is being calculated, it should produce an alpha channel in the resulting image that matches that of the selected windows(s). If the window content does change, Window Clippings will still faithfully capture the selected windows(s) but transparency information will not be available.

Hope that helps.

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Monday, January 29, 2007 3:15 PM by Reza

This is a great little utility. It's very handy when making user manuals...

However, the latest version (1.5.x) doesn't work for me. For png image format all I get is a transparency layer and for other formats I get the background color I set in the options. I dug the internet for an older version (1.2) and that works very well.

I'm on XP SP2 with nvidia card. Perhaps I should try the latest nvidia drivers.

Ps. It would be nice if you could leave the links to the older versions.

Thanks

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Monday, January 29, 2007 3:40 PM by KennyKerr

Reza: I am sorry it is not working correctly for you. As I hinted at, the new image effects push the boundaries a bit, but if you disable both you should get the same experience you did with previous versions. Please try turning off both image effects on the Image tab and try again. I will continue to improve Window Clippings hopefully catch all these edge cases. I have also restored the links for the older 1.2 release that you can find here:

http://weblogs.asp.net/kennykerr/archive/2006/10/19/Window-Clippings-1.2.aspx

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Monday, January 29, 2007 4:17 PM by KennyKerr

Leo: thanks for posting those images. That is exactly the behavior I expect when Window Clippings fails to calculate the alpha channel: you end up with an opaque image instead. This happens with a handful of apps for a variety of reasons but at least in my testing does not affect Internet Explorer. I will continue to investigate and improve Window Clippings, making it available as updates that you can try.

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Monday, January 29, 2007 5:18 PM by Leo Davidson

Cheers Ken, I couldn't ask for more than that!

If you do end up in the UK there's at least one guy in London who owes you a few beers. :-)

All the best.

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Monday, January 29, 2007 9:23 PM by Shog9

Bug report:

WindowsXP

Two monitors attached, both running at 1024x768 resolution. Second monitor logically positioned above or two the left of the first monitor (second monitor coordinates: (0,-768) or (-1024,0)):

Window Clippings 1.5.8 behaves normally, but all images captured are completely empty (white fill).

---

Second monitor logically repositioned to right or below primary monitor (coordinates: (1024,0) or (0,768)):

Window Clippings 1.5.8 behaves normally. All windows are captured correctly.

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Monday, January 29, 2007 10:47 PM by KennyKerr

Shog9: Thanks for the bug report. That was working on pre-release builds. Unfortunately, I no longer have a dedicated second monitor so I only test multi-mon configurations every so often. I will make sure this is fixed in the next update. Sorry about that.

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Tuesday, January 30, 2007 1:37 PM by Reza

Kenny,

Thanks for the link. The problem I am experiencing is indeed the bug that Shog9 reported.

Btw, I've spread the news around the office about WindowClippings. A coworker (manager) was desperately looking for a simple tool for screen shots. He likes how simple and intuitive it works.

Great job.

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Tuesday, January 30, 2007 2:42 PM by KennyKerr

Shog9, Reza: thanks for your feedback. I tested the configurations you mentioned (second monitor to the left or above the first with 0,-768 and -1024,0) and it works fine. Unfortunately, I only have access to a Windows Vista multi-monitor computer so I can only confirm that it works correctly on Windows Vista.

My only non-Vista box does not support multiple monitors so I am testing Windows XP in a virtual machine. I can use RDP to span multiple monitors in the virtual machine but unfortunately the target OS still thinks that it is a single monitor that is simply very wide...

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Tuesday, January 30, 2007 4:37 PM by John West

Two feature requests:

o Region capture (select region with mouse)

o Convert to 8-bit color (to reduce image size)

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Wednesday, January 31, 2007 4:12 AM by Heiko Behrens

Capturing non-rectangular windows under Windows XP works fine when saving to disk as PNG. The Clipboard will always keep the background (color selected), though.

Are there any workaraounds?

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Wednesday, January 31, 2007 4:22 AM by Prasad

I am unable to create any windows clipping. I get a "Please configure your displays for 32-bit color quality before creating a window clipping" tool tip. I run XP, SP2 and my display resolution is 1024X768 with color quality being 32 bit. Do you know whats going on?

Thanks,

Prasad

# re: Window Clippings 1.5 (off topic request)

Wednesday, January 31, 2007 8:45 AM by Rooc

A bit off topic but what I like is the screen where the active window (selected while in screenshot mode) is normal color and all the background windows are grayed out.

I'd like an application that does this all the time. So the focus is always on the active window, and other windows are grayed.

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Wednesday, January 31, 2007 11:13 AM by KennyKerr

John West: thanks for the feedback. Both are on the feature list for the next major release.

Heiko Behrens: The bitmap format used for the clipboard does not have an alpha channel. This common format is supported by the vast majority of applications and that is why I use it. I will consider supporting additional clipboard formats in future.

Prasad: If all your monitors are configured for 32-bit color then it is likely a problem with your video card drivers. Another user mentioned that he solved this problem by updating his video drivers.

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Thursday, February 1, 2007 2:41 AM by gyurisc

I just read an article on automatic updates for application on Scott Hanselman's blog, where you commented about the update feature of your app. Can you please write more about how it works and what technologies you are using?

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Thursday, February 1, 2007 12:21 PM by Nidonocu

Silly thing I know, but can I request an installer? ;) I'm really lazy about making shortcuts...

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Thursday, February 1, 2007 12:49 PM by KennyKerr

I published build 1.5.9 which fixes the bug some of you experienced with multiple monitors on Windows XP.

Just select "Check for Updates" to upgrade to the latest version.

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Friday, February 2, 2007 9:44 AM by Sean

So tell me, is this Window Clippings thing only for the Visa OS?  I'm using Windows 98SE (and even that's a stretch sometimes).

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Friday, February 2, 2007 10:58 AM by KennyKerr

Sean: Window Clippings supports Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Windows Vista. Anything before Windows XP is not supported.

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Friday, February 2, 2007 3:52 PM by Reza

Kenny,

1.5.9 works like a charm. Great!

Now it's time for requests :)

Can I request automatic addition of the Vista drop shadows to XP screenshots? I use ImageMagick and a script to accomplish this, but if WindowsClippings can do it for me, it would be even better.

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Friday, February 2, 2007 4:34 PM by Reza

Kenny,

I just tried WindowClippings 1.5.9 on Vista on Virtual PC 2007 Beta using remote desktop (yeah, that's stretching it). I also got the "Please configure your displays for 32-bit color quality before creating a window clipping" message. The remote desktop was running at 16 bit and I couldn't change it. Not sure this was a limitation of the (missing) drivers or the remote desktop connection. The VPC Vista was setup by a colleague.

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Friday, February 2, 2007 5:17 PM by Paul

Like gyurisc, I'm very curious how you managed to get the window without anything "behind" it like that. Are your methods "secret", or might you share with us how you bent Vista to your will? ;)

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Saturday, February 3, 2007 10:51 AM by KennyKerr

Reza: Glad to hear its working nicely for you! Window Clippings works just fine through Remote Desktop. The trick is that Remote Desktop 6 is the first version to support 32-bit color so it will only work if you have the v6+ client and connect to a v6+ server. The only v6 server at the moment is Vista but I believe that the Remote Desktop Connection 6 client is available now for Windows XP and Windows 2003.

Paul: The window capture process is a trade secret. I offer the Window Capture API to developers through a licensing agreement.

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Monday, February 5, 2007 2:05 AM by gipsy

is there a way to screenshot the whole desktop?

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Monday, February 5, 2007 11:02 AM by KennyKerr

gipsy: you can obviously use the Print Screen key but Window Clippings doesn’t currently offer support for maximized windows or the entire desktop. I have however received a lot of feedback to confirm that this is indeed important to users and will be adding support for these additional scenarios in an upcoming release.

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Wednesday, February 7, 2007 6:26 PM by mahalie

Hi, slick app! Works great on my XP, dual monitor setup. I do really wish for the ability to capture the mouse pointer as well!

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Friday, February 16, 2007 4:56 AM by Vejay Sarathy S

How do I clip a dialog box in XP. please provide the steps.

Is it simply drag and drop?

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Tuesday, February 20, 2007 3:29 AM by Ghost

I love the program. If it can include the mouse cursor, than it would be perfect for me!

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Monday, March 5, 2007 7:24 AM by beefster

This is great, but it doesn't seem to work with windows that are maximised!

I am using Win XP SP2 and the latest version of WindowClippings (1.5.15).

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Wednesday, March 7, 2007 4:48 PM by KennyKerr

Adam: thanks for the feedback. I can easily suspend GDI apps but it doesn’t work for applications using DirectX. This includes WPF apps since they use DirectX underneath. I may consider an advanced option allowing users to opt in to suspend drawing just long enough for Window Clippings to capture the window’s alpha channel but ideally I’d like it to be able to auto-detect this. The deterioration increases with the degree of change so something like Media Center has significant distortion whereas a dialog box with standard button animation has minor but noticeable distortion.

Anyway, I’m working on v2 at the moment and I hope to address this issue to some degree at least even if only to support traditional GDI apps.

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Sunday, March 11, 2007 10:34 AM by billstelling

nice work. thank you.

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Sunday, March 18, 2007 8:53 AM by Bob

Lovely application but I'm having the same problem as beefster mentions. I'm running WinXP Pro and Window Clippings won't capture maximised windows. If I reduce them it works but I don't want to be doing that all the time. Is something wrong with my settings?

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Sunday, March 18, 2007 10:56 AM by KennyKerr

Bob, beefster: As I’ve mentioned before, Window Clippings doesn’t currently offer support for maximized windows. This is supported in v2, which is coming soon. Stay tuned.

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Tuesday, March 20, 2007 1:00 PM by KennyKerr

Ken: I did write a few paragraphs. Here is the link again.

I don’t assume it’s intuitive but I try to make it as easy as possible to pick up. As for the icon, you can right click to get a context menu and double click to create a clipping. This is standard behavior for notification icons, although I suppose I could show the context menu on the left click as well.

Thanks for the feedback.

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Tuesday, March 20, 2007 3:44 PM by Rick Brewster

This utility is great -- it has already saved me a bunch of time while updating the User Interface map/walkthrough for Paint.NET v3.05!

Before I had to make sure that a dialog was over a white background, and then had to manually crop it and make sure the shadow was present. Now I just hit the hotkey and double click on the window I want, then paste it into Word.

-Rick Brewster

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Thursday, March 22, 2007 1:56 PM by Joe DiUbaldo

What a great utility this is.  Any idea why I don't get the contect menu when I right click the tray icon in Window XP?

Thanks, Joe DiUbaldo

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Thursday, April 19, 2007 10:20 AM by Guti

Very nice tool. Kudoz.

I am impressed how fast it is evolving. At the moment not as powerful as WinSnap (sorry), but with a native x64 version that rocks.

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Wednesday, April 25, 2007 7:21 AM by Tony Thompson

Where does the program install itself on Vista and how do you uninstall it if you wish to?

# re: Window Clippings 1.5

Wednesday, April 25, 2007 10:48 AM by KennyKerr

Tony: Window Clippings 1.5 does not have an installer so you simply download the exe and run it. To remove, simply exit Window Clippings and delete the exe. Window Clippings 2.0 will include an installer.

# Excellent little tool

Friday, April 27, 2007 5:26 PM by Anders

Caught wind of this app on Wikipedia and tried out 1.5.15 on Vista just now. Easy to use, and captures transparencies too. I'm impressed.

It only lacks a 15 page installer, splash screen with progress bar, and a "Tip of the day" that never goes away.

# Window Clippings for Win2K OS?

Monday, May 14, 2007 10:04 AM by Melwyn

Is there a version of Window Clippings for Win2K OS's ?

-Melwyn