Pictures are worth a thousand words
Has this happened to you? Your car is constantly making clunking noises but when you take it to the mechanic, the noise goes away and you can’t replicate it.
Having lived in the digital world for decades I have encountered analogous situations, both as the instigator and as the person providing assistance, where tools such as computers, tablets and smartphones act up but, when needed, can’t replicate the issue. Also we often have a hard time explaining the error message on the screen to another person.
With the ubiquity of smartphones and tablets, we can of course take a picture of the error (or record that clunking noise) but what if you don’t have a smartphone or digital camera at your disposal? Or what if the error message is on the smartphone itself?
Fear not! Most digital world tools have functionality to take screen snapshots and attach to emails so the helper can see exactly what you saw. My baseline assumption here is that you have access to email.
- Microsoft Windows 7, 8 and 10: The “Accessories” folder holds a program called “Snipping Tool.” When you start the program and hit the “New” button, you will be able to use your mouse and select the area on your screen that you want to take a snapshot of. If you can’t find the Snipping Tool, just hit the “PrtSc” key (short for "print screen") to take a snapshot of your entire screen.
- Apple OSX (Macs): While holding down the “Shift” and “Cmd” keys, tap the number “4” key. This will let you use your mouse to select the area on your screen that you want to take a snapshot of. Alternatively, tapping the number “3” key while holding down the Shift and Command keys will take the snapshot of your entire screen.
- Apple iOS (iPhones & iPads): Newer vintage iPhones and iPads may have other ways to take snapshots so I’m going to cover the common denominator process that should work regardless of your device’s age. From experience I warn you that it may take several tries to get it right: Press the round circle button at the bottom of your screen and the power button at the top of the device simultaneously.
- Google Android-based smartphones & tablets: Just like Apple’s iOS based devices, from experience, I can tell you that it may take several tries to get the timing right; newer devices may also have other means to take a snapshot. The common denominator procedure here is to press your “Power” and “Volume Down” buttons simultaneously for a snapshot.
After you have the snapshot, just open a new email, address it, fill the subject line and then paste the snapshot into the email body. For computers, pasting the snapshot you just took is as easy as holding down the “Ctrl” key (“Cmd” key in Macs) and tapping the letter “v” key. For tablets and smartphones, you actually go into your Photo album to attach the snapshot you just took.
Pictures are worth 1,000 words and increase the chance that you can get your point across!
Strategist with over 25 years of experience. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and Executive MBA from Cleveland State University.
As founder and strategist for the Center for Aging in the Digital World, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit empowering seniors through technology, and founder of geek with a heart with the service mark "Hand-holding You in the Digital World", Tak helps people utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives.