Capture an entire Web page as an image or PDF

The free Webpage Screenshot extension for the Chrome browser lets you save an entire Web page as a PNG file. For $20, the FastStone Capture program saves all or part of your screen as JPEG, TIFF, BMP, PDF, and other file formats, and also captures your onscreen actions as a video file.

Dennis O'Reilly Former CNET contributor
Dennis O'Reilly began writing about workplace technology as an editor for Ziff-Davis' Computer Select, back when CDs were new-fangled, and IBM's PC XT was wowing the crowds at Comdex. He spent more than seven years running PC World's award-winning Here's How section, beginning in 2000. O'Reilly has written about everything from web search to PC security to Microsoft Excel customizations. Along with designing, building, and managing several different web sites, Dennis created the Travel Reference Library, a database of travel guidebook reviews that was converted to the web in 1996 and operated through 2000.
Dennis O'Reilly
4 min read

If you need to save an entire Web page, you've got options. In a post from September 2011 I described five ways to save a Web page. The simplest of those methods is to press the Print Screen key (or Alt+Print Screen) in Windows, or either Command+Shift+3 or Command+Shift+4 on a Mac. Another is to use the Chrome browser's Print > PDF > Save as PDF option.

Unfortunately, none of these approaches meets everyone's page-saving needs. A reader contacted me recently about a problem she was having when she tried to convert an online article to a tear sheet:

I'm a journalism student and need to provide some of the articles I've written online as PDFs. I'm on a Mac using Chrome. When I try File > Print > PDF, the whole page looks like a mess: the fonts are different and the article is split in half. This happens with any page I try to save or print. I have Acrobat but can't figure out how to save a two-page article so it either fits on one page or [appears] as it is online.

I found two programs that let you capture an entire Web page as it appears in your browser: the free Webpage Screenshot extension for Chrome lets you save a page as an editable image file, while the $20 FastStone Capture program (30-day free trial; for Windows only) gives you more screen-grabbing and -editing options than you can shake a mouse at.

Note that the Download.com page for Webpage Screenshot refers to the program as "Webpage and WebCam Screenshot."

A simple page-grabbing extension for Chrome

Webpage Screenshot adds a camera icon to the top-right corner of the Chrome window (to the right of the address bar). The first time you open the extension, you're warned that the program is requesting access to "your data on all Web sites" and "your tabs and browsing activity."

The vendor's FAQ page explains that the warning is due to the program's use of Chrome's CaptureVisibleTab command. The developer claims it collects only anonymous usage statistics, a feature that can be disabled without affecting the program's operation. To do so, click the extension's icon, choose "settings" under "Suggest a new feature," open the Advanced options at the bottom of the screen, and uncheck "Enable anonymous usage statistics."

Webpage Screenshot advanced settings
The free Webpage Screenshot extension for Chrome lets you disable collection of anonymous usage statistics. Screenshot by Dennis O'Reilly/CNET

When you're ready to capture a page, click the camera icon and choose either "Visible screenshot" or "All page screenshot." A new tab opens with the captured page and editing options in a window at the top of the screen. Also displayed are buttons for printing or sharing the page via email, social networks, and other services.

Webpage Screenshot page capture and editing options
When you grab a page with Webpage Screenshot, a window with editing tools and sharing options appears at the top of the page. Screenshot by Dennis O'Reilly/CNET

When you click the Save button on the far right, the page is downloaded as a PNG file. You can change the default image format to JPEG in the extension's settings, which also shows options for custom keyboard shortcuts and setting delays for your page grabs from one to 10 seconds.

Windows screen-capture app goes all out

After you install FastStone Capture, it appears onscreen as a small floating toolbar. You can also add a shortcut to the program in the Windows taskbar notification area and set it to start automatically with Windows via the program's settings. To open the settings, click the red and green icon in the top-left corner of the floating toolbar and choose Settings.

When you're ready to capture a page, select one of the seven icons on the FastStone toolbar. Two of the options capture the active window, just as the Alt+Print Screen shortcut does, and the entire screen the way the Print Screen key functions. Two others let you select the area of the screen you want to capture, including the option to press the Ctrl key to make multiple selections, or open a magnification window for making more precise selections.

FastStone Capture's freehand selector allows you to draw around the area of the screen you want to grab. The option most useful for capturing an entire Web page is the scrolling window, which rolls the selected area down the screen until you press a key to stop it. The seventh capture tool is a screen recorder, which captures all the activity on your screen and saves it as a video file that includes audio.

Since I was only looking for ways to capture an entire Web page, I didn't test the program's screen recorder. However, the FastStone Capture tutorial indicates that you can record all or part of the screen, with or without the Windows Taskbar. You can also hide or show the mouse cursor, highlight the pointer, and highlight mouse clicks.

The painter's-palette icon on the toolbar opens a menu for selecting the destination for your screen capture. The default is to open the capture in the FastStone editor, but you can also save the image to the clipboard, save it as a file, send it to a printer, send it via email or FTP, or open it in Word, Excel, or PowerPoint. The images you capture can be saved in BMP, GIF, JPEG, PCX, PNG, TGA, TIFF, and PDF formats. Other options let you set a capture delay from 1 to 10 seconds, include the mouse cursor, and add a caption, edge, or watermark.

FastStone Capture's screen-grab options include the ability to save the image, print it, or open it in an Office app. FastStone Capture

When you open the screen in the program's editor, a toolbar at the top of the image supplies controls for zooming in and out, selecting a portion of the screen, resizing, blurring or spotlighting an area of the image, and access drawing and annotation tools. You can open the image in Paint, Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, adjust the colors, and apply other effects.

FastStone Capture editing options
FastStone Capture's image editor provides a full range of effects you can add to the screens you capture. FastStone Capture

For simple screen grabs, FastStone Capture may be more software than you need. But people who regularly work with images taken from the Web or any applications will find all the editing and sharing tools they require close at hand in the program's compact toolbar.