How to Screen Capture Drop Shadows in Windows Vista Aero

Written by Amit Agarwal on Apr 8, 2008

Here are two screenshot images of Windows Media Player running on Windows Vista – can you spot a difference ?

Plain Screen Capture With Drop Shadows

OK, so the left image is a regular screen capture while the one on right is a screen grab of the same Media Player window but with the surrounding drop shadows so the image appear more attractive.

*Rounded corners, drop shadows and transparent translucent borders are part of Windows Aero Glass theme that is available in all Windows Vista editions except Home Basic.

How To Screen Capture Window Frames in Vista with Drop Shadows

None of the free screen capture programs can capture drop shadows in Vista – not even the Snipping Tool that ships with some editions of Windows Vista. So here’s a very simple workaround:

1. Minimize the desktop (Win + M), start Notepad and maximize the window.

2. Put Notepad in the background such that it covers the desktop. Now bring other application(s) to the foreground that you want to screen capture. (see example here)

vista screenshots

crop-screenshots 3. Press the Print Screen Key or invoke any of your favorite screen capture program (like SnagIt) to take a snapshot of the full desktop screen. Save that as an image to the desktop.

4. Open this screenshot image in any editor (Photoshop Express, Picnik, Windows Photo Gallery, etc) – carefully draw a marquee selection around the drop shadows (no black are should selected) and finally crop.

Save the cropped image and you’ll be pretty happy to see the result.

PS: You can do this with running notepad if if your desktop background color is set to solid white and there are no icons on the desktop.

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