XP Screen Captures (resuming discussion from February)

Subject: XP Screen Captures (resuming discussion from February)
From: Frank Dissinger <dissinger -dot- cgs -at- gmx -dot- de>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 12 Apr 2006 13:13:33 +0200

Hi Martha, Mike, Bryan, Bonnie and Henry,

in February I have started a discussion about screen captures.
I'd like to reply to what you wrote me. Until today I haven't had
time to do so, sorry.

My questions was, how to change the WinXP theme so that
I still looks like XP, but uses less colors, so that I can save
disk space by reducing color depth (without color shifts).

Martha J Davidson <editrix -at- nemasys -dot- com> wrote:
I use the default WinXP theme, and I don't see a
gradient in the title bar. My screen captures look fine.
My reply:

Look at the title bar of any window. It is dark blue, but gradually
changes to light blue towards the lower end. It also is light blue
at the upper end. Title bars are therefore (vertical) gradients.
These gradual changes in color tone require an enormous amount
of colors and therefore a lot of disk space. If you don't reduce
color depth, then of course your screen captures look fine. But if
you reduce them to 256, unexpected color shifts may occur which
may make the screen captures very ugly (ok, Photoshop seems to
produce good results in most cases, see below).

Under Win2000 I could switch off the (horizontal) title bar gradient
by setting the 1. and 2. color to the same color. Thus most of my
screen captures (e.g. of dialog boxes) consisted of just a few colors
and I could reduce color depth as much as to 16 colors, thus saving
a lot of disk space!

I asked this question to the list, because I hoped to find a way to
do the same under WinXP: Getting rid of the title bar gradient,
while preserving the rest of the WinXP 'look & feel'.

Mike Starr <mike -at- writestarr -dot- com> wrote:
It appears that the tools here will allow you to accomplish what you're
interested in.
My reply:

Thank you for this tip. Unfortunately, none of
these predefined WinXP themes does what I want.

Bryan Sherman <bsherm -at- gmail -dot- com> wrote:
Leave "Windows and Buttons" set to "Windows XP Style". Then just set
the colors as you set for Classic Style and that should take care of
the gradient. The Classic style puts in pre-XP window controls.

Also, I use SnagIt for my screen captures because it can be set up to
automatically change the color depth to 256 colors saving file size
while not impacting the quality of standard Window elements.
My reply:

Unfortunately, changing the colors does not have any effect
if "Windows and Buttons" is set to "Windows XP Style".
I have tested SnagIt. It seems to be a great tool, but reducing
the color depth of WinXP screen captures to 256 does not
produce satisfactory results. Photoshop does a much better
job. So I decided to take my screen captures with the excellent freeware
tool MWSnap (http://www.mirekw.com/winfreeware/mwsnap.html)
and reduce color depth with Photoshop afterwards.

Bonnie Granat <bgranat -at- granatedit -dot- com> wrote:
Do you want pictures like the ones here? They're just plain Windows XP.
My reply:

Yes and no. Yes, because these images are displayed with the
standard WinXP theme. No, because they look ugly and are
difficult to read. I suppose they have been reduced in size.
BTW: With the Win2000 theme and without a title bar gradient,
these images could have been reduced to just 16 colors!

Henry J. Wicko II <henry -dot- wicko -at- gmail -dot- com> wrote:
Have you thought of minimizing screen capture resolutions in
Photoshop or a similar program with the XP standard formatting?
My reply:
Yes. Photoshop does a good job (see above).

================= My original messages ============(2)
Hm... I am not sure whether I understand what you mean.
I have already tried changing the WinXP Classic theme
to make it look like WinXP Standard. But you cannot change
it that much. You can avoid the gradient on the title bar, ok.
But you'll never get those blue frames around the windows
for example, or the red button with the X at the right end of the
title bar... The appearance is still too far away from XP Standard.

Perphaps there is a special XP theme which looks just like
XP, but without the gradient in the title bar?

I write user manuals with FrameMaker 6.0 under Windows XP
and produce them as PDF and, using WebWorks Publisher,
as MS HTML Help.

For optimum quality and minimum file size, I have set WinXP
to "Classic Style" and the two colors for the title bar to the same
color, to avoid the creation of gradients.

The downside of this is that screen captures don't look like
what most users see on their computer, which is usually set
to the standard WinXP theme.

I tried changing the title bar colors in the standard WinXP theme,
but this does not have any effect. Does anybody know a solution
to this dilemma?

Is there a WinXP theme which looks similar to the standard
theme, but does not have the gradient in the title bar?

Frank Dissinger
Technical Writer
Hainburg (Germany)


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