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Screen Shots in the BeOS


Recently, I've taken to putting screen shots into each week's Tip, if there is a way to illustrate a concept or technique where a graphical image explains better than words. But did you know how I take those screen shots? Well wonder no more!

Taking a screen shot in the BeOS is simplicity itself. No funky keyboard combinations requiring fancy fingertip gymnastics: just press the Print Screen button (function key F13). Whatever is on your screen at that moment will be captured and written out to a file in your /home directory.

The files are named "screen[X].tga", where [X] is the number of the screenshot file, created in sequential order. In other words, the first screen shot file in your /home directory will be named "screen1.tga", the second will be "screen2.tga", the 12th (because it's fun, you know) will be "screen12.tga", and so on.

There are several things to note here. First is that the format of the files, as you might guess from the .tga file extension, is the Targa file format. The Preview Release (1 and 2) could open these files using the Rraster application, while Release 3 uses the newer ShowImage application and a Translation Kit add-on for the Targa file format. Because the Targa format add-on is included with the BeOS, any application which uses the Translation Kit (or its predecessor, the Datatypes Library) can open and use your screen shots.

Second, there currently is no way (that I know of, anyway) to take a snapshot of just a portion of the screen. You get the entire screen, in the resolution and bit depth for which you have your current Workspace set. It is easy, though, to open your screen shot up in any of the various graphics programs that can use the Targa add-on and edit your screen shot there.

And last, because the BeOS is fully multithreaded, it has no difficulty taking screen shots while you have a menu open, a dialog box on screen, or wherever -- places where other operating systems sometimes have trouble. Snap away, the BeOS can handle it!

Final thought: Isn't sort of ironic that there is nothing useful for me to take a screen shot of for this Tip?

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