Screenshots are a great way to take a snapshot of everything on your screen and save it for later use. Sometimes you need to take a screenshot to remember a password or other important information that you might not otherwise be able to save.
Other times, you need to take a screenshot and send it to someone else so they can help you or see what you are doing. Finally, you can take multiple screenshots over a period of time to see what is happening on your computer.
In this article, I will show you how to use a free program to automatically take screenshots of your computer screen at regular intervals.
Automatic screen capture
Auto Screen Capture is an open source utility at SourceForge that has quite a few options for taking screenshots on your Windows computer. The program works with Windows Vista and higher, including Windows 10.
The advantage of the program is that it doesn’t even require installation. All you have to do is download the EXE file and run it. This is great because it doesn’t add anything to the registry or copy files to system directories.
When you start the program, you will see that the main interface is divided into several different sections. At the top left is the calendar, and below are the main settings of the program. On the right side, you have a preview of each screen connected to your computer. If you only have one monitor, you will only see a preview of Screen 1.
By default, the demo mode is enabled for the program and the schedule is disabled. This means that when you open the program, the main interface appears for you to adjust the settings. The first thing we want to do is change these settings. Click the Options button in the very bottom left corner, and then click Enable Demo Mode When App Launch To clear the checkbox. Click “Enable Scheduled Screen Recording at Application Startup” to check the box.
The rest of the parameters speak for themselves. If you are trying to take screenshots discreetly, it is recommended that you uncheck “Open this window when application starts”, “Open this window after stopping current screen capture” and “Show slideshow after stopping current screen capture”. You can also store screenshots on any drive connected to your computer, including network drives. This is great if you want to install the program on multiple computers and save all screenshots directly to the server, NAS, etc.
The Screenshot tab in the top section controls how often screenshots are taken. By default, the program is set to take a screenshot every second, which is a little funny. If you don’t want all the space on your computer to go away in two days, change the time to something more reasonable, such as every 30 seconds or every 2 minutes. I would check the Initial Capture checkbox as it includes an additional screenshot of the active window.
The program will create two folders for each day: one with a screenshot of the entire desktop and one with a close-up of where the mouse is when the screenshot is taken. This is a cool little feature that allows you to see the screen in more detail only for the active part of the screen.
Also, by default, the program stops after 30 minutes, so if you want screenshots to be taken continuously or for a longer time, either deselect the Limit checkbox or enter a higher value. Finally, the Resolution field is set to 100% by default, but you can change this setting if the files are too large.
Scrolling down the page, you will see that you can also set a schedule for taking screenshots. If you want the program to automatically start capturing screenshots, instead of manually starting the capture process, select the Start Capture At and Stop Capture At check boxes. Screenshots will only be taken during this time frame in the above time frame.
Finally, if you scroll down a little more, you can change the image type to something other than PNG. You can choose from BMP, EMF, GIF, JPEG, TIFF and WMF. In my opinion, JPEG is the best option as it will give you the best quality at the smallest size. In my tests, a full screenshot of the desktop at 2560×1440 was around 160KB. If I were to use PNG format, the same screenshot would be a whopping 1.7 MB!
Click the Start Capture button to start the capture process. The program should disappear from the taskbar, where it will remain when taking screenshots. Unfortunately, the best thing you can do to hide it is to put it in the overflow section of the notification area.
This program was not built using any hidden mode or anything of the sort, so if you need hidden screen recording software, this may not work for you. Once you have taken a few screenshots, you can easily view them by going to the Slideshow tab.
If you don’t want to view screenshots in the program, you can also just browse the folder using the explorer. In my case, the top-level folder was a date, and then inside I had a folder named 1 and a folder named 5. One contained screenshots of the full desktop and the other contained close-ups.
It’s also worth noting that if you are using Windows 10 with multiple virtual desktops, the program will only take a screenshot of the active desktop at that time. So if the user switches to desktop 3, you get a screenshot of desktop 3. If they switch back to desktop 2, you get that desktop in the next screenshot.
Finally, if you click on the Keylogger tab, you can configure the program to record all keystrokes while the program is running. Just check the “Enable keylogging on screen capture” checkbox. The file will be saved in the same location as the screenshots.
The keylogger is pretty good in the sense that it actually displays the program in which the keystrokes were recorded. This will help you understand all text in the document.
Overall, the program works very well considering that it is free. It only works on Windows, but for most people it should be fine. If you need screenshots at specified intervals, this is the best program for the job. Enjoy!