How to Take High-Resolution Screenshots For Your Articles?

How to Take High-Resolution Screenshots For Your Articles?



Are you having a hard time taking a high-resolution screenshot on your computer? Perhaps you have tried using different screenshot apps and are still ending up with mediocre results. No matter how many images you put in your article, if the quality isn’t there, the overall result will be a bad experience for your reader. Well, you’re not alone. We’ve had to deal with this challenge, as we like to incorporate screenshots in the articles we publish here. In the process, we have uncovered tips and tricks that will help you take better screenshots. Let’s get started.

Why is my screenshot quality bad?

The first thing to understand is how screenshots work. When you take a screenshot with an app or print screen command, you’re just accessing the framebuffer and copying the current bitmap of the video display. So, what is a framebuffer? It’s the portion of the RAM that holds the information about what is currently displayed on the screen. A bitmap is just a map of bits. The bits contain details on the location of pixels and color information. Summing it all up, taking a screenshot just involves grabbing the bitmap, which is essentially a map of pixels on the screen. Every time you see a picture on a computer screen, your computer reads information from the image file. In its raw format, the image file is a series of 0’s and 1’s. And these digital values tell the monitor how to reproduce each pixel to build a complete image. Now, your screenshots have bad quality because of various reasons, including:

1. The pixel density of the screen – Pixel Per Inch (PPI)

The number of pixels per square inch of your screen may have a role to play in the quality of your screenshots. Note that: Pixels per inch (PPI) is sometimes referred to as Dots Per Inch (dpi). But the correct usage of DPI is when specifying the number of dots the printer should make per inch. It’s tricky to explain the difference between pixel density and resolution without using a lot of jargon. But here is an example to make it easier. If a 24-inch monitor has a resolution of 1920 x 1080, it means that it has 1920*1080 =  2,073,600 pixels. It roughly has a 92 PPI. Some 6-inch mobile screens have a resolution of 1920 by 1080. They do have the same amount of pixels as the corresponding 24-inch monitor, but the pixels are denser. In this case, the 6-inch screens will have a 320 PPI. Having a higher PPI makes images sharper and more refined. If your computer had a higher resolution, it would certainly have more information in its framebuffer. Therefore, the images may be sharper. Consequently, taking a screen grab on a computer with better and finer details means that the screenshot will be better than a less refined monitor.

2. Your screenshot app 

Your screenshot application may be to blame for the poor image quality of your screenshots. The problem may come from how the app saves the image or performs the screengrab.

3. Image file formats, PNG vs. JPEG 

The file format used when saving screenshots can also affect the image quality. Two of the most popular formats are jpg (lossy format) and png (lossless format). Your screenshots will look better if you save them with PNG, but the file size will be considerably larger compared to saving them with JPEG. For more details, check out our article about png vs jpeg.

4. Scaling or enlarging the screenshots

Your screenshots should be captured in the same size you intend to use. That means on a 1:1 ratio. So if you capture a screenshot at 600:400px, but you need to enlarge it to 800:600 px, there will be a noticeable degradation in the quality. That’s because you’ll be essentially trying to stretch the pixels.

How to take a high-quality screenshot of websites with Google Chrome or Firefox

If you take a lot of screenshots of websites, you may notice that the images may appear fine, but the text will be somewhat blurry. There is no need to get a computer or graphics card with a higher native resolution. You can use emulated devices. How does this work? Google Chrome and Firefox, two of the most popular web browsers, allow you to take screenshots of emulated devices. For instance, when we take screenshots for the blog, we emulate a laptop screen with a high-density PPI. Here is how it works: On Google Chrome:
  • Navigate to the website where you want to take the screenshot.
  • Use the shortcut Ctrl + Shift + I or Option + ⌘ + J to access Developer tools.
  • On Mac, you can also go to View > Developer > Javascript Console.
  • Click on the Chrome menu icon (Look for the three stacked dots next to the address bar)
  • Select More Tools > Developer tools
Accessing developer tools Google Chrome
Accessing developer tools Google Chrome
  • Chrome allows you to create a custom device, and you can even emulate a 4K screen.
  • Click the dropdown arrow and select Edit.
Google Developers Resolution settings panel
Google Developers Resolution settings panel
Choose Add custom device to set it up.
Emulated Devices Google Chrome Developer Tools
Emulated Devices Google Chrome Developer Tools
  • Name your device.
  • The first input parameter is the width, followed by the height. For the device pixel ratio, enter 1 for a normal resolution or 2 to replicate a retina display.
  • Click Add to finish
Creating a new emulated device on Google Developers
Creating a new emulated device on Google Developers
You’re now ready to take a high-resolution screenshot. Ensure that you have your custom emulated device selected. Click the three stacked dots on the resolution settings panel and select “Capture screenshot.”
Capturing a high resolution screenshot Google Chrome
Capturing a high resolution screenshot Google Chrome
Alternatively, press Ctrl-Shift-P or Cmd-Shift-I and type “screenshot” to access a list of available commands. Choose from the four options and press enter.
Screenshot commands Developer Tools
Screenshot commands Developer Tools
Firefox also allows you to use emulated devices. Go to the Applications Menu > Web Developer >  Responsive Design Mode. You can expect a remarkable improvement in quality with this method compared to using your native resolution. The only limitation is that you cannot capture anything that is outside the emulated screen. For that, you’ll need to learn how to capture high-quality screenshots on different devices:

How to take a high-quality screenshot on Windows?

While you’re limited by your hardware and system components, you can still manage to take high-quality screenshots on Windows. You will not need any complicated software. Just use the print screen command:
  • When you’re ready to take the screenshot, press the PrtScn button from your keyboard
  • Open Paint.exe
  • Paste the image (Ctrl + P)
  • Crop the image to remove menus and other items
This is the old-school way of doing things. But Windows has a snipping tool that can make this process a little bit faster. Previously the app went by the name “Snipping Tool,” but it has been updated to Snip and Sketch. If you’re on Windows 10, just type “Snip & Sketch” to launch the program interface. Windows also has several settings that could be standing in the way of achieving a high quality screenshot. You need to ensure that:
  • You’re using the recommended screen resolution;
  • You have enabled Windows to adjust apps to ensure they are clear.
For the screen resolution, go to Display Settings > Display Resolution. Choose the recommended native resolution. Ensure that Windows can fix apps so that they are not blurry by going to Display Settings > Advanced Scaling Settings > and toggle on “Let Windows try to fix Apps….”
Advanced scaling option Windows 10
Advanced scaling option Windows 10
There is no disputing the convenience offered by various screenshotting apps. Many allow you to upload screenshots to the cloud and share links rather than attaching the image in the message. But by default, the app may be compressing the screenshots, so check if this is not the case.
CloudApp Settings showing common settings of Screenshot apps
CloudApp Settings showing common settings of Screenshot apps
For instance, CloudApp has a setting that allows you to Upload Full Resolution PNG screenshots. But it’s usually off.

How to take a high-quality screenshot on an Android phone?

While you cannot increase the number of pixels on your screen, various apps will allow you to get higher-quality screenshots on Android. One of the proven apps is Screenshot Capture. In reviews, many people have noted that the app helped them improve the quality of their screenshots. It also comes with a floating bubble allowing you to launch the app easily. Your phone may have the resolution to take good screenshots. But they may become blurry after sending them using apps such as WhatsApp. Messaging apps compress images to save on file size. One trick to avoid this is sending the images through email or Bluetooth. Make sure you also screenshot from a high quality image. If the original material is not of good quality, the end result will have issues as well.

How to take a high-quality screenshot on a Mac?

Mac users tend to experience fewer problems getting high-quality screenshots. In fact, the last complaint we found about blurry screenshots on the Apple discussions forum was on November 17th, 2005. But if you’re experiencing any issues, you can:
  • Use the built-in screenshot app on Mac (cmd+shift+4 or cmd+shift+3). Compare if the screenshots are better than from a third-party app.
  • Capture individual windows to avoid imperfect cropping around rounded corners. Just hold Cmd + Shift + 4 simultaneously. Then press the spacebar. The cursor should turn into a camera icon, and it will allow you to capture individual windows.
  • Ensure that the images are saved in PNG. By default, screenshots are in PNG, but if someone had the computer before you, they might have changed the setting. Launch the terminal and enter the following command:
defaults write type (PNG ) 
(Press enter)
killall SystemUIServer
You can also try other file formats, including BMP, pdf, jpg, jp2, tif, pict, and tag.

How to take high-quality screenshots on an iPhone?

There have been recent complaints by iPhone users of blurry screenshots. However, the problem has not revolved around the screenshots themselves. iPhone devices have high-resolution screens. Many people complain about blurriness when sending screenshots to other people. The first thing to check is if the low-quality image mode is turned on. Go to Settings > Messages > And toggle off Low-Quality Image Mode.
low quality image mode setting on iphone
low quality image mode setting on iphone
The screenshot may be blurry if you’re also sending it on other messaging apps such as Facebook. You can consider compressing the image beforehand with third-party apps or websites. One app that can help is the Screenshot App. It claims to reduce the size by up to 30 times without any noticeable change in quality. However, it doesn’t have the best ratings.

What is the best free app for taking high-quality screenshots?

This is not an endorsement, but if you’re looking for one of the best apps for taking high-quality screenshots on Windows or Mac, you can consider downloading LightShot. It reproduces images with the same accuracy as the built-in screenshot functions. The best part of it: it’s a free! That’s why it’s often seen as a free alternative to Snagit, even though there’s a catch that may scare some of you: on LightShot, your screenshots can be seen by everyone. That’s why we recommend to use a privacy-friendly screenshot app in our next paragraph.
LightShot - a great free app for taking high resolution screenshots
LightShot – a great free app for taking high resolution screenshots

What’s the best privacy-friendly app for taking high-quality screenshots?

As we mentioned in the previous paragraph, one of the big drawbacks of LightShot, the popular free screenshot app, is that your screenshots won’t be private. In fact, LightShot’s terms of service are very clear about it: “No image uploaded to this website is ever completely hidden from public view. ” That’s why LightShot is a treasure trove for hackers who use all sorts of scraping techniques to exploit screenshots. You should only use LightShot for screenshots that don’t contain any private information. If you are looking for a privacy-friendly LightShot alternative, we recommend you go for Snagit.
snagit screenshot application
Snagit is one of the most comprehensive screenshot tools in the market
Snagit is often seen as the ultimate screen capture tool and offers a lot more functionalities than LightShot such as video captures, team collaboration, sensitive data blurring, iOS screen captures, ability to record a voice-over, and more. While Snagit offers a free trial, you’ll have to pay to get access to those features. We may receive a commission if you decide to purchase the paid version of Snagit.

A note about image quality

While high-quality images are great, they will definitely increase the file size and can slow down the load time of websites. So before uploading your high-quality screenshots, run them through an image compression app but make sure that it does not reduce the image quality. One of the best image compression algorithms is offered on Tiny PNG. It’s also possible to use image-editing programs such as Adobe Photoshop to increase the image’s sharpness. You can find out more about using its sharpening features here.


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