Windows 11’s Snipping Tool could get new powers for taking screenshots – but is Microsoft in danger of overcomplicating things?

Windows 11’s Snipping Tool is set to get a handy feature to embellish screenshots, or at least it seems that way.

Leaker PhantomOfEarth discovered the new abilities in the app by tinkering with bits and pieces in version 11.2312.33.0 of Snipping Tool. As you can see in the tweet below, the functionality allows the user to draw shapes (and fill them with color) and lines.

See more

That means you can highlight parts of screenshots by pointing with arrows – for an instructional step-by-step tutorial you’ve made with screen grabs, for example – or add different shapes as needed.

Note that this is not in testing yet, because as noted, the leaker needed to play with the app’s configuration to get it going. However, the hidden functionality does seem to be working fine, more or less, so it’s likely that a rollout to Windows 11 testers isn’t far off.

Analysis: A feature drive with core apps

While you could furnish your screenshots from Snipping Tool with these kinds of extras simply by opening the image in Paint, it’s handy to have this feature on tap to directly work on a grab without needing to go to a second app.

Building out some of the basic Windows 11 apps is very much becoming a theme for Microsoft of late. For example, recently Snipping Tool has been testing a ‘combined capture bar’ (for easily switching between capturing screenshots or video clips), and the ability to lift text straight from screenshots which is really nifty in some scenarios.

Elsewhere, core apps like Paint and Notepad are getting an infusion of AI (with Cocreator and a rumored Cowriter addition), and there’s been a lot of work in other respects with Notepad such as adding tabs.

We think these initiatives are a good line of attack for Microsoft, although there are always folks who believe that simple apps like Snipping Tool or Notepad should be kept basic, and advanced functionality is in danger of cluttering up these streamlined utilities. We get where that sentiment comes from, but we don’t think Microsoft is pushing those boundaries yet.

Via Windows Central

You might also like…

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

Microsoft just gave Windows Copilot a ChaGPT-4 boost and the ability to explain screenshots

Microsoft came out hot with its Windows Copilot 365 and Copilot for Windows announcements last year, and presented Copilot as a general virtual assistant to help with your whole digital life. So far, we’re yet to see Copilot reach its potential, but it looks like we’re one step closer: Microsoft is reportedly gearing up to add a powerful new feature that will allow users to take a screenshot, submit it to Copilot, and ask Copilot to explain what’s in the screenshot. 

As far as we know, an “add a screenshot” button is rolling out to the general public – meaning you may already be able to try it. If not, you should be able to very soon. This button should appear in the Copilot panel, prompting you to select a part of the screen, confirming that you’ve captured what you want to discuss with Copilot, and then upload it to the Copilot or Bing right-side panel. When I tried it, I did also need to submit some text to go along with it, such as a question or additional context. 

A screenshot in a Microsoft Edge window with a Copilot panel open on the right, with arrow pointing to new

(Image credit: Future)

Once the screenshot is uploaded, you can talk about it and ask about anything within it or relating to it with Bing Chat or Copilot on Windows 11

As you can see in the screenshot, the new button sits next to the existing image upload button. You can  try the new feature at Microsoft’s Copilot website, or over at Bing Chat

Windows Latest has their own demonstration of this new feature, and I had a go of my own. First, I took a screenshot selection which showed a full description of video creation platform HeyGen's YouTube channel and asked it to tell me two things: whose channel it is and what it’s about.

Copilot returned this: 

This is the YouTube channel of HeyGen. It is a next-gen video creation platform that turns text into professional spokesperson videos in minutes. They offer premium avatars speaking in multiple languages and professional video templates for various use cases including marketing, e-learning, and corporate communication. You can find more information about HeyGen on their website.

This is pretty accurate, and reminded me of one feature in particular that I really like about Bing Chat and Copilot – they readily and very visibly provide sources and websites that you can visit to double check the information. 

Once you make a selection of your screen, you can make markings on it and draw on it. You can also add specific instructional visuals to help Copilot understand your query, and you can move your selection window around to a different part of the screen altogether. 

According to Windows Latest, Bing Chat recently got a ChatGPT-4 boost granting it a new level of functionality and this is likely making its way into Copilot as well. Apparently access is currently only granted to select users, and this development enables Copilot to engage in conversations about emotions. Currently, there is a limited pool of users who can try this for themselves and access is seemingly given at random, and it will be available to all who access Windows Copilot and Bing Chat very shortly.

Microsoft Bing logo on a white smartphone screen

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Primakov)

Microsoft charts a course ahead with Copilot

Microsoft has been pretty definitive in its messaging that Copilot is a big deal for the company, and will be a central feature in several products like Microsoft 365 and Windows, but not just those. 

In a pretty major (yet not terribly surprising) development, Microsoft is planning to add an actual physical Copilot button into the hardware of newly manufactured products as early as 2024. Microsoft is doing this in its continuing effort to make computing, especially AI-powered computing, simpler and more seamless for users. This was detailed and confirmed in a recent Windows Experience Blog post written by Yusuf Mehdi, Executive Vice President and Consumer Chief Marketing Officer at Microsoft.

For the rest of us not ready to throw our older Windows devices out quite yet for this new button, you can bring up Windows Copilot with the shortcut Win+C (if you have updated your Windows 11 version to one that has Windows Copilot included). 

According to Microsoft itself, the introduction of the Copilot key will be the most notable upgrade to the Windows keyboard in almost thirty years. It likens this future introduction to the addition of the Windows Start key, which is putting a lot of faith in Copilot itself so I imagine we’ll continue to see major developments to Copilot throughout this year. I think especially with Copilot’s development, Microsoft is one of the most exciting companies to watch this year. 


TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

Windows 11 screenshots are going to be even better as Microsoft turbo-charges Snipping Tool and Photos app

Windows 11 is about to get a drastically-improved Snipping Tool and revised Photos app. The most exciting new features include the Snipping Tool allowing users to copy text straight from screenshots, and the Photos app getting features like the ability to blur the background of photos.

This news has come from Windows Insider users (members of the official Microsoft community, the Windows Insider Program, for people who want to test out the latest developments to the operating system and help Microsoft improve it). 

The Verge writes that Windows Insiders have been allowed access to updates of both the Snipping Tool and Photos app in the Canary and Dev Channels in the Windows Insider Program (two out of four of the channels through which Microsoft distributes previews). As a Windows Snipping Tool enthusiast, Microsoft certainly has my attention. 

Microsoft has written in more detail about these new arrivals in two new update posts on the Windows Insider Blog (an official update blog by Microsoft). 

A sharper Windows 11 Snipping Tool

The blog post presenting the nifty new text capture and recognition capability of the Snipping Tool (version 11.2308.33.0) introduces the new feature as 'Text Actions'. This will make it much easier to copy and paste or share text with others straight from a screen capture. You’ll have to select Text Actions in the Snipping Tools toolbar and then you’ll be shown all the text you can highlight, select and copy. 

You can also manipulate text within the screenshot, like being able to redact sensitive information right in the screenshot using the 'Quick Redact' function. 

Aside from the exciting new text capture capabilities of Snipping Tool, there will be integration with Windows 11’s Phone Link feature. It will show a notification prompt to open the Snipping Tool for markup of a screenshot, and allow users to instantly access and edit recent photos from Android devices with the Snipping Tool on a PC.

Snipping Tool

(Image credit: Sofia Wyciślik-Wilson)

A renewed Photos app 

The Photos app is also being revised based on community feedback, Microsoft writes in the blog post about the Photos app update. The main part of the update is the new Background Blur option, which does what it says on the tin – instantly detects and blurs the background of a photo. It has further options with the Blur Intensity parameter and Brush Tool to select what areas you’d like to blur. 

Another cool feature being previewed is a ‘Content Search’ capability for photos that you backup on OneDrive. This will allow you to search by content of a photo, I assume using some intelligent image detection software that can scan and label the photo with searchable tags based on what it detects in the image – much like Google Photos, which has a similar feature

As well as this search feature, you can also search for photos based on the location they were taken. You’ll be able to do this in multiple places – your local files, OneDrive and iCloud. Yep, you read that right – iPhone owners can search their iCloud storage on their Windows 11 device with the updated Photos app.

Microsoft details how to use these features in the announcement blog post, along with some other fixes and changes to do with the Photos app. 

The new Photos app in Windows 11

(Image credit: Microsoft)

What about a video editor?

I’m looking forward to these features hopefully coming to Windows 11 soon, and can already see myself using them. There has been some controversy recently about Microsoft’s changes to the Windows 10 Photos app, which saw the removal of the Video Editor feature in a bid to push users to its newer video editor, Clipchamp. There’s a single bullet point under “Other fixes and improvements” that says: 

“Edit and Create Video options are now easily accessible at the top of the gallery view.”

I don’t know what this means exactly with regard to the video editing functions in Windows 11’s Photos app, so I guess we’ll have to see what it looks like as testers try out the previews of these features. 

You might also like

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More