Screen Capture Tool for Dual Monitors

I have been using MWSnap for a long time. It is generally considered one of the best free screen capture tools.

There are a surprising number of comments like the one below at the MWSnap forum.

Thu Jan 15, 2004 5:51 pm : MWSNAP is GREAT!

Thank you for offering this software for free. It is extremenly useful in many ways. It is easy to use and does a great job capturing what I need. Before this I used to work between MS Paint and Windows Print Screen. This saves me alot of time and effort!
I would love to make a donation to show my gratitude.

I would not have needed to look at any other options except for one limitation of MWSnap: it does not work with dual monitors. (The link to the forum may not take you directly to the referenced post. On my last visit, the forum was having some minor problems.)

I use Visual Studio 2005 almost all day. You have probably heard about all the bugs in VS 2005. One of the bugs apparently shows up only in certain dual monitor configurations - like mine. I found a work around for it by running most of my VS 2005 windows on monitor two. Unfortunately, MWSnap cannot access monitor two, so capturing images related to my work got to be really frustrating.

I could not find any other good freeware alternatives to MWSnap that would support dual monitors. (See UPDATE below.) So I asked around and SnagIt seems to be the most highly regarded commercial product. It also earned a good review at PC Magazine.

I'll give you the conclusion right now: I am probably going to purchase SnagIt. (UPDATE: I didn't. I went with WinSnap.) It looks to be very feature rich. It is certainly easy to use. However, I want to describe the full story because my attempt at using SnagIt was somewhat problematic and the SnagIt support center doesn't address this issue. Maybe my solution will help you avoid or solve this problem if you run into it.

The steps below show the problem I encountered as well as how I solved it.

First, I downloaded SnagIt. (Your email address is not required, even though it looks like it is.) Then I installed it and here is what I saw when I tried to start SnagIt. (Note that if you choose to lauch SnagIt as part of the installation, you will not see this error until the next time you try to launch SnagIt.)

Application Error

The dialog goes away only after you click "OK" about a dozen times. And, of course, SnagIt will not load.

As you can probably tell from the quality of this image, SnagIt was causing a lot of problems. Not only could I not use it to capture this dialog, it was causing my other tools to malfunction as well.

The dialog says something like this:

The instruction at "0x00000000" referenced memory at "0x00000000". The memory could not be "written".

I attempted to repair my installation. I also uninstalled and reinstalled SnagIt. Don't waste your time with those steps, if you are having this problem. They won't help.

This problem is related to Data Execution Prevention (DEP), which Microsoft introduced in Windows XP SP 2. I don't actually run XP. I run Windows Server 2003 as my workstation OS. But it has the same DEP features.

I found the exact problem by debugging in Visual Studio.

Visual Studio SnagIt Access Violation

Here is the short answer to how to fix this problem:

Change the DEP settings by this sequence of steps: Start > Control Panel > System Properties, click the Advanced Tab > Performance Settings > Data Execution Prevention. Add SnagIt32.exe to the exclusions.

Here are the steps in a bit more detail. From the Start Menu, go to the Control Panel and select System Properties. You will see this dialog box. Look in the Performance group and click the Settings button.

In the dialog below, click Add.

Brows to your SnagIt installation folder and select SnagIt32.exe (assuming you are running a 32 bit version of Windows). The default installation folder is "C:\Program Files\TechSmith\SnagIt 8".

Accept/close these dialogs and SnagIt will now start and run correctly.

I think I'm going to be satisfied with SnagIt, but my experience getting SnagIt to run just underscores how good a product MWSnap really is. I never had a moment's problem with it, and if not for the bugs in Visual Studio 2005, I would probably still be OK with using MWSnap on only one of my two monitors. I never had to troubleshoot MWSnap like I just did with Snagit. And MWSnap is free! I'll miss it.

 UPDATE: I almost jumped the gun with my near-decision to use SnagIt. After writing this post, I came across WinSnap. It is free (for personal use) and it works on dual monitors. SnapFiles gives it an excellent review and after trying it out myself I actually like it more than SnagIt and MWSnap. As I write this I am uninstalling SnagIt and I'm going with WinSnap. WinSnap is the winner.

Here is a good resource that lists several freeware screen capture tools. It does not discuss which ones will work with dual monitors. However, I can vouch that WinSnap does work well with dual monitors.

I'll quote part of what they say about WinSnap:

WinSnap is a screen capture utility that enables you to take screenshots of non-rectangular windows and applications, using a background of your choice as well as regular windows, the desktop, popup menus and more. It can automatically enhance the capture with a smooth drop shadow effect, add a watermark, change the coloring and optionally save as a new file or copy it to the clipboard. Other features include image rotation, advanced auto-saving, image scaling, send by email (MAPI), keyboard shortcuts and more. WinSnap can save images in PNG, GIF, BMP, TIF and JPG format.

They give WinSnap 4 out of 5 on the popularity scale, but it has only 1 user review compared to about 16 for MWSnap. That would make me think MWSnap is far more popular. Both are good products, but at this point I am far more happy with WinSnap.



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WinSnap is no longer free.

Great page - also trying to find a freeware screen grab for dual monitor (also use VS2005 all day), but unfortunately it looks like WinSnap is no longer free for personal use - it has a free 30 day trial which places a watermark on each image.

Thanks a lot for this solution. My issue is rectifried by this method.