When I write documentation, screenshots can be an important method of communicating information or making complicated instructions and concepts “real” to the reader. As a fan of “so simple there’s no way I can break it”, I’ve been using Lumina Screenshot to capture all images for the TrueOS, SysAdm, and Lumina documentation I’ve been writing. In TrueOS/Lumina, it can be opened with the “PrtScn” button or by typing “lumina-screenshot” in the command line. Let’s take a look at how to operate this simple utility.

Lumina Screenshot, while simple, does have a variety of options:

In the “New Screenshot” tab, you can choose both what and when to screenshot. There are three primary options in the “Settings” field:

  • “Entire Session” will grab what is currently displayed, including any additional monitors attached to the system.
  • “Single Screen” offers taking a shot of a specific monitor, adjusted with the up and down arrows next to the option.

  • “Single Window” will allow you to choose an open window to screenshot. Check “Include Borders” to have the utility add black lines around the edges of the window.

There is also an option to delay a screenshot by a designated amount of time, which is extremely useful when imaging menus or temporary elements in a window.

Once “Take a Screenshot” is clicked, the window will disappear while the screenshot is being taken. If “Single Window” is chosen, the window will disappear and the cursor will transform. Click on the desired window, and Lumina Screenshot will image the window after any specified delay.

Once a screenshot is taken, the “View/Edit” tab will become active. The last screenshot is visible in the primary section of the window.

If the screenshot is very large, you can resize the window to view more of the shot, which is very useful when cropping the image. Alternately, horizontal and vertical scroll bars can be used to view the whole image.

Right-click the image to see the options to “Zoom In” or “Zoom Out”. This greatly helps precision for cropping.

Click and drag across the image to create a croppable area. If the area to crop is unsatisfactory, click again on the image to remove the crop area and try again.

Press “Crop” to discard all elements outside the crop area. Once satisfied with the image, press “Save As” to preserve the currently displayed image in a folder of your choosing. Alternately, press “Launch Editor” to open either the default image editor, or a selection screen for you to choose the editor program.

While not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, here are a few factors I’ve learned (the hard way) to keep in mind when taking a screenshot:

  • Plan ahead – Before taking a screenshot, think about it. What information will the image convey? What’s most important? Do I have everything I need to take a correct screenshot? (computer updated, information to capture is current, etc.) Will I need to do any additional editing after creating the screenshot?

  • Don’t rush – I’ve found I take better screenshots when I take more time to plan out the shot. A lot of mistakes can be avoided by thinking through the entire process.

  • Context – Does the image have too much information? Too little? Is there anything private caught in the image? (passwords, personal information, embarrassing photos, etc.)

I hope this brief examination of Lumina Screenshot is both illuminating and encouraging. Good images can be as important as good writing, and Lumina Screenshot has been very useful in my personal endeavor to improve my documentation skills.

(All screenshots in this post were taken with Lumina Screenshot.)