Keshiki: screen capture for tutorial makers and more

Yuzuru Jewell has been keeping himself busy. As well as releasing the Idobata text-to-speech application on Monday September 9th, which I was able to preview, he has also released a further application under the Kanae Projects brand.

Keshiki (景色 – meaning “landscape” or “scenery”) is a little different from his other products reviewed in these pages in that it isn’t aimed directly at virtual worlds – although it can easily be used with them. It’s a screen capture utility, and as such has a wide variety of potential uses, although Yuzuru specifically points to its potential in creating tutorials.

As I already use Easy Screen Capture, I was interested in taking Keshiki  for a test-drive and comparing the two.

Keshiki is available for both Windows 7 32-bit and 64-bit as a ZIP download, containing  a readme file and the program executable. No installation is required; simply drop the EXE file in to the folder from which you want to use it.

keshiki-2
Keshiki launches in a minimised mode (or did for me) – look for it on the taskbar

I’m running Windows 7, and double-clicking the program icon launched Keshiki in minimised mode, displaying a small icon on the taskbar. Clicking this opens the application’s Set-up window, while right-clicking on it provides quick access to a number of options (see below).

Set-up Options Run-through

Keshiki set-up window
Keshiki set-up window

The Set-up window allow you to define how you want Keshiki to work – which hot key will activate it, what will be captured, where the captured images will be saved, etc.

At the top of the window are a set of buttons:

  • Default – reset Keshiki to its default settings
  • Performance Option – access the Windows performance options to tune Keshiki
  • Create(/Delete) Start-up link – create or remove a link to start Keshiki at windows start-up
  • Cancel – quit out of any changes you have made to the set-up options (closing the window will do the same)
  • OK – confirm and update Keshiki’s settings

The Capture drop-down allows you to define what it is you which to capture:

  • Active Window – captures the active window
  • Active Client – captures the client area of the active window.
  • Desktop – captures the desktop area which contains the tool bar. If you use multiple monitors, the monitor in which the mouse pointer is ositioned will be captured
  • Work Area – captures your work area without the tool bar. Again, if you use multiple monitors, the monitor in which the mouse pointer is positioned will be captured
  • Pop-up menu – any displayed pop-up menu
  • Thumbnail on Taskbar – captures the taskbar thumbnail for an application.

Additionally, using the Options section, you can define what else Keshiki should capture – the mouse pointer, any visible tool tips, etc. Which of these options is available will depend on the type of capture you have set using the drop-down menu.

Other options within Set-up allow you to:

  • Specify a delay (in seconds) between the hotkey used to make a screen capture being pressed and the actual capture itself, allowing you to press other keys and optionally have them recorded in the image as well, using the Keyboard / System options. This is a very handy option if you’re producing a tutorial, as keystrokes can be recorded directly onto your screen captures in one of six pre-defined places (top left/centre/right; bottom left/centre/right)
  • Define the hotkey used to make a capture (Print Screen is the default)
  • The image format for captures (PNG – default; JPG or BMP)
  • Where images are saved to on capture  – you can use one of three default options, your desktop, Documents folder or My Pictures folder, or you can specify a folder on your system.
Keshiki can capture keystrokes for you for use in tutorials. Make sure you keep the required keys pressed until the timer countdown has ended.
Keshiki can capture keystrokes for you for use in tutorials. Make sure you keep the required keys pressed until the timer countdown has ended. Note that the position of the keys in the image can be adjusted within the six default placement areas using the Height and Margin options in the set-up window, and the colour of the keys changed using the Alpha option.

Pop-up Menu

The pop-up menu from the Taskbar icon
The pop-up menu from the Taskbar icon

Once you have set-up Keshiki, right-clicking on the program icon in the Windows taskbar displays a pop-up menu you can use to quickly toggle between capturing the active window or active client and activate / turn off any other options you’ve set (such as capturing keystrokes) without having to open the application set-up window.

Again, which of the options is available does depend on whether you have set them up through the main set-up window. The menu also includes an option to open the set-up window if you find you need to change any options.

Using Keshiki

You don’t need to have the application window open in order to use Keshiki. Once you’ve set your preferences, clicking OK will save them and minimise the application. To capture an image, simply press your defined hotkey. The image is automatically saved to your defined save location, and additional captures are automatically sequentially numbered. It’s as simple as that.

Feedback

Keshiki is an extremely versatile screen capture tool with some nice touches. When compared to Easy Screen Capture ($29.95), Keshiki offers a broadly similar range of capture options with the exception of being able to capture a user-defined area of an application or window(s)., although it does offer the option of capturing keystrokes, which Easy Screen Capture hasn’t got, so it’s swings and roundabouts.

I did encounter problem trying to capture a taskbar thumbnail. I’m actually assuming that as such a capture is shown in the Keshiki documentation, the problem lies on this side of the keyboard, rather than in the application itself. Other than this, Keshiki did “exactly what it says on the tin”, as the saying goes.

The Set-up /application window makes it easy to change things on the fly without having to select menus, pull-up dialogues, etc., making Kehiki very user-friendly. The one thing I would possibly suggest adding would be some kind of feedback mechanism to indicate a capture has been successful – a sound would do. As images are grabbed and automatically saved, there is otherwise no indication that a capture has been successful, which might cause confusion / instil a need to constantly check that the last capture did work.

Overall, a handy tool if you’re looking for a free a screen capture utility with a good degree of flexibility (just remember the donate options on Yuzuru’s website if you do find Keshiki to your liking :).

Keshiki can be downloaded from the Kanae projects website – links below.

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