A Screen Shot Is Worth A Thousand Words

Christopher Lentz | July 21, 2014 08:00 AM

In the IT world, the more information you have about an issues and how it first came to be noticed can speak volumes. However, as IT Administrators we rarely, if ever, get to see some of the errors that occur on end-user devices. Why? Unfortunately, we have all be programmed by absolutely meaningless error notifications and pop-ups to just click 'Okay' and go on with our tasks. Here are the reasons you should stop that practice now and take screen shots first.

We Don't Know Everything

I know you think highly of your IT person but despite what you might think, they do not know everything about computers, networking, and that weird thing your laptop does at Starbucks on the weekends. I am not saying that they don't know what they are doing, I am simply saying that IT is such a vast subject with deep trenches of information at every corner. While we typically have a pretty good idea about what is happening from our users explanations, sometimes it is a bit like a deer in headlights. Strange things happen and there are a lot of variables that come into play for some issues. 

We See Things You Don't

Another great reason to take a screen shot of any errors or strange behavior is that we can usually see things that to you seem harmless or benign. A screen shot gives us a chance to see other signs or clues that can help us make an educated decision about the steps that are necessary to resolve the issue quickly. The screen shot also locks the error in time and history so we can check other areas of the network or system that might have caused the issue or lead to it. 

How To Take A Screen Shot

Taking a screen shot is fairly simple no matter what operating system you have. For Windows computers you can usually hit the 'Print Screen' button on your keyboard and then paste into an email. If that does not work, click the Start button, click All programs, click Accessories, and open the Snipping Tool by clicking it. Then select as much of the screen as possible using a click and drag motion. The Snipping Tool will then prompt you to save the image, so save it where you like and then email it to your IT person. For Mac users it is a simple key stroke pattern 'Cmd+Shift+3' to take a screen shot and place it on your desktop. Once it is there, simply attach it to an email and send it off. 

Getting better help from your IT starts with you...and a screen shot! Oh and don't forget to thank your IT person when they fix something for you, we often only hear the bad things and rarely get any kudos in return.


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