Category: quick tip

Going Paperless Quick Tip: Timed Screen Captures Using Skitch for Mac

As a software developer in my day job, I find I am often doing lots of screen captures. I use Skitch for all of these because they are easy to mark up. As a blogger, writing about, say, Going Paperless, I also do a lot of screen captures, as readers of these posts well know. I use Skitch for these screen captures as well.

One of the features I love in Skitch for the Macintosh1 is its ability to do timed screen captures. Have you ever tried to do a screen capture where you are trying to illustrate an option on a pull-down menu, only to have the menu disappear the minute you press a key to do the screen capture? The timed screen capture feature in Skitch is designed to solve just this type of problem.

How it works

  1. You select the Timed Screen Capture option.
  2. You highlight the part of the screen you want to capture.
  3. Skitch will then give you a countdown–the default is 5 seconds. At the end of those 5 seconds, Skitch will capture whatever is on your screen.

This allows you to capture pulldown menus and submenus easily, without having them disappear when you click away.

How it looks

Here is what it looks like when you are attempting to do a timed screen capture. And yes, in order to produce the following screenshots I had to use the timed-screen capture feature:

Timed Capture

From the pulldown in Skitch, you select the Timed Screen Snap… option like in the image above. You then select the part of the screen you wish to capture. You will get a 5 second countdown to get the screen to look however you want. In the case of the above screenshot, I pulled down the Screen Snap menu in Skitch in order to be able to capture all of the options on it.

I did a second one. For the second example, I wanted to show an information menu from CrashPlan from the menu bar on my iMac. Clicking on the menu option along and trying to do a normal screen capture wouldn’t work. Instead, I used the Timed Screen Snap function in Skitch, which resulted in this:

Crash Plan Menu

Where I find this most useful

There are 3 main areas in which I find the Timed Screen Capture most useful:

  1. Capturing specific screenshots for software I am developing. The timed screen snap allows me to stage the screenshot exactly how I want it.
  2. Sending screenshots to technical support to illustrate a problem. Using the timed screen capture means I can capture elements of the screen (like menus or hover boxes) that I might not be able to capture with an ordinary screen capture.
  3. Creating instructional documentation for friends and family. You know: you get those questions like, “How do I create a filter for this email?” or something similar. Timed screen snaps allow me to easily create screen captures of exactly what I want to that I can be specific in my instructions or documentation.

And as an added bonus…

Anything you capture in Skitch can be synced and saved in Evernote, so you don’t have to worry about losing the screen capture, and indeed, can access it from anywhere once you’ve synced with Evernote.

Alas, not available on Windows

In my day job I work on a Windows machine, and if there is one Evernote feature I am desperate for on that machine it is the Timed Screen Snap for Skitch. Currently, the Windows version of Skitch can’t do a timed screen snap. I hope that in the future, this feature will be added.

If you have a suggestion for a future Going Paperless post, let know me. Send it to me at feedback [at] As always, this post and all of my Going Paperless posts is also available on Pinterest.

Last week’s post: A Framework for Searching in Evernote.

  1. I sometimes get asked why these posts tend to focus on Mac and not Windows. The main reason is that, outside of my day job, I work primarily on Macs and that is what I am most familiar with when it comes to Evernote and its products.

Going Paperless Quick Tip: Capturing Meme Quiz Results in Evernote

I often feel like I am so serious with the examples and use cases I provide in these posts that I felt it was time to provide a tip that is more fun-oriented. And so, swallowing my pride, I will begin by admitting that, on occasion, I have completed one of the seemingly endless quiz memes that appears on the Internet almost every day. With most of these memes, you have the option of posting your results to Facebook or Twitter or Tumblr or some other social media. I almost never do this. However, I do like retaining the results of these quizzes, and what better place to capture them in Evernote.

Here is one recent example: I took a Pew Research quiz on science and technology. I had to answer 13 questions, after which, I was shown my results. I used the Evernote Web Clipper to capture the web page containing my results and tagged the note with a “memes” tag so that I could find it later:

Quiz Results

Last week, another quiz was offering to determine your political compass. After answering 6 pages worth of questions, it seemed to me that it was worth keeping the results. Once again, I captured this information in Evernote, tagging it once again with my “memes” tag.

Political Compass

Of course, most of these quizzes are silly and their results can be even sillier, but as I have said many times, I take Evernote’s slogan “remember everything” seriously and it is nice to have an easy way to capture the results of these quizzes should I ever have a need or desire to refer back to them. And besides, it can be fun to fill them out and a break from the routine of the day.

And there is a practical side. I have used the Evernote Web Clipper, or Skitch to capture the results of things like:

  • Completion of Security Awareness training at my day job
  • Completion of online training courses (quizzes and certificates)
  • My electronic voting ballot for the Hugo Awards and Nebula Awards

Evernote makes it so easy to capture these kinds of things that, after a while, it becomes almost second nature.

If you have a suggestion for a future Going Paperless post, let know me. Send it to me at feedback [at] As always, this post and all of my Going Paperless posts is also available on Pinterest.

Last week’s post: Online Writing Tools

Going Paperless Quick Tip: Using Evernote Reminders for Upcoming Deliveries

This is the first of my biweekly “quick tip”paperless posts. Every other week I’ll do one of these quick tips, and on the weeks I’m not doing the quick tips, I’ll have a regular in-depth Going Paperless post. For more information, see this post.

One of the ways I’ve been able to save some time and reduce stress is by getting things out of my head (isn’t this what David Allen describes doing in his GTD books?). If I don’t have to remember it, I have one less thing to worry about. And since Evernote is my go-to system for “remembering everything” I use it as a second brain. When Evernote came out with its reminders feature, it took me a while to start using the feature because I had to consider the ways it would help me the most. Since then, I find myself using reminders all the time.

One thing I use it for is remembering upcoming deliveries so that I don’t have to worry about them. Yesterday, for instance, I ordered some replacement nubs for my Bamboo stylus because the existing nub got a small crack in it.

After the order was successfully placed, I was directed to a confirmation screen in my browser that summarized my order. Here is how I use Evernote reminders to remember my upcoming deliveries for me.

1. Clip the confirmation/receipt to Evernote

Well, I’d do this anyway, but I used the new Evernote web clipper to clip the confirmation message to my Filing Cabinet notebook.

2. Set a reminder on the confirmation note for the approximate delivery date

Next, I set a reminder on the note containing the clipped confirmation message. The reminder “due date” is set to the approximate time when I expect the item to be delivered.


You can see I’ve highlighted at the bottom of the screen capture the estimate delivery time. Circled at the top of the screen capture, you can see the reminder I’ve set on the note.

That’s all there is to it! When I am looking at Evernote, the reminder will appear in the list of reminders, organized by notebook:

Reminder List

Having the reminder set up means I can pretty much forget about it. In two weeks, I’ll get an email  (to say nothing of a reminder notification on my iPhone) reminding me that this delivery is still outstanding. I can then take some further action.

And, should I be lucky and the shipment arrive before the reminder, I can simply check off the reminder in my reminder list to mark it as complete.

Perhaps the most important thing about this reminder system is that the reminder is set in the context of the thing I need to know about. For me, this is much better than simply having a checklist in a file where there is no context. The reminder is associated with the receipt I received from the vendor. When I click on the reminder in Evernote, I can see that receipt and have instant access to all of the information on it. For me, this is a game-changer.

If you have a suggestion for a future Going Paperless post, let know me. Send it to me at feedback [at] As always, this post and all of my Going Paperless posts is also available on Pinterest.

Last week’s post: Going Paperless: with Paper!