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I'm making a manual for a web-based app. I take screenshots and put them into adobe illustrator and they lose their quality extremely fast when zooming in.

Is there any way I can take high resolution or vector based screenshots that don't loose image quality when zoomed in? This seems to be only a problem with Illustrator, with Photoshop when I zoom in it gets slightly fuzzy but that's it.

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  • Is the problem that you'd want nearest neighbor interpolation instead of the cubic interpolation you get? This is typically the problem people describe without knowing it.
    – joojaa
    Mar 3, 2014 at 20:50
  • There is a paper with some ideas: Mikheev, S.M. and Kurilin, I.V. and Vil’kin, A.M. and Rychagov, M.N. and Lee, HoKeun and Kim, SangHo and Choi, DonChul Improving the print quality of screenshots Pattern Recognition and Image Analysis October 2015, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 674-684 link.springer.com/article/10.1134/… Dec 9, 2015 at 7:58

4 Answers 4

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There's no way to capture a vector screenshot. You can, however, convert the screenshot to vector through use of tools like Image Trace (Illustrator, under the Window menu) or recreate the user interface by hand.

Alternatively, if you have access to a computer (or tablet) with a retina display, the screenshots taken on it will be around double the resolution and be able to be scaled up a lot cleaner. They will, however, still be raster graphics, so they won't scale infinitely.

The reason why it gets fuzzy and why you can't take a vector screenshot: Screenshots are always raster graphics. Illustrator is a vector graphics program. Raster graphics are pixel-based; they're comprised of many pixels that each have color information. When you scale a raster image up, you make the pixels bigger, which results in a pixelated or fuzzy look to the image.

Vector graphics are essentially math and some markup. When you create a shape in Illustrator, it makes a mathematical expression that represents that shape. When you scale the image, it just redraws it. It doesn't get pixelated because the shape is preserved in the expression, not in the color value of the pixels.

When you take a screenshot, you're literally capturing the pixels on your screen, so its a raster, or bitmapped, image and not a vector.

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This is a common question that I like to try and push back on:

don't bother

A screen shot is literally that...what the user would see on screen. There is no need to make it any higher resolution or sharper than it is. It is what it is and that is what you should show the user.

In other words: It's fine. Just leave it! :)

That said, the lazy solution: If you can run the software or web site on a Retina MacBook, use that, as your screen shot will contain 4x the pixels by default.

If the issue, on the other hand, is that your images are getting fuzzy in software they are being imported into, the issue is potentially that the images are being converted to JPG and resampled. This is common when making PDFs. A workaround for that would be:

  • save screen shots as PNG files by default--not JPGs
  • Make sure your image import settings (or, if PDF, your image compression settings) are set to
    • do not resample
    • do not convert to JPG
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  • I don't import my shots but just cut and paste them.
    – A 90's kid
    Mar 4, 2014 at 16:16
  • @A90'skid cut and paste into what?
    – DA01
    Mar 4, 2014 at 17:34
  • Into the adobe ai page I'm working on in illustrator.
    – A 90's kid
    Mar 4, 2014 at 17:53
  • are you resizing in AI? What are your export settings set as? What are you saving the AI file as? A PDF?
    – DA01
    Mar 4, 2014 at 18:04
  • No resizing. I'm saving them as a pdf. I'm not sure what my export settings are but I'm not exporting anything.
    – A 90's kid
    Mar 4, 2014 at 18:16
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You can enlarge the content before you take a screen shot by pressing cmd + + on Mac or ctrl + + on Windows. This is easier than seeking out a retina computer at times.

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  • 1
    Those are not universal shortcuts. They also do not enlarge anything: they zoom in (making content larger, but leaving menus and other non-content, erm, content at its original size). On a Mac, enlarging is done by scrolling up while holding down Alt. Dec 29, 2015 at 6:57
  • @JanusBahsJacquet, did the default change? I thought it was Ctrl, but it could just be that my system is configured differently.
    – SilverWolf
    Feb 15, 2018 at 2:31
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Try this: Maximise the size of the image you're taking a screenshot of; make it fill the screen as much as you can.

Use 'Snipimage' to exactly fit the image you want. (Start > All Programs > Accessories ... & I recommend pinning it to the taskbar where it's conveniently there when you want it)

Click File> Send to> Email recipient as attachment

Drag the attachment from the email which opens into a directory so you've got a copy of it.

Close the email.

Now try putting this image into powerpoint (or word, or whatever). It behaves much better than the original screenshot.

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  • This will still leave the screenshot only as large as the screen itself (in pixels)
    – Welz
    May 2, 2018 at 12:51

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