5 Incredibly Simple Ways To Make Screenshots Look Better In PowerPoint

By | November 1, 2016


Screenshots (also called screen captures) are often used in presentations to illustrate what the audience can expect to see on their computer screen, mobile device, tablet, or laptop at a given time.

Here at Presentation Panda we probably use the screenshot tool HUNDREDS of times a day. There are many screenshot tools including Microsoft’s Snipping Tool (that comes with Windows), Evernote’s Skitch, and of course there is the good old fashioned Print Screen key on your keyboard when you quickly want to take a screenshot of your entire screen.

So here’s the deal:

Rather than adding the “raw” or “naked” screenshot to your presentation like 99% of people do (yawn!) you should follow these simple PowerPoint design tips to bring your screenshots to life.

These “dressed up” screenshots will make your slides look better and your audience will thank you for it!

Let’s begin!

Screenshot Trick #1. The Contextual Image 




A great way of bringing your screenshot to life is by giving your screenshot some context by framing the visual on the device the audience will be using.

For example, if you’re presenting a new website and you want to show a series of screen captures, you can frame each image within a generic computer monitor (like the one in the image example above) to highlight how the website will look when someone is viewing it on their screen.

How to create this screenshot effect:

Option 1: Find a great image of a computer, tablet, phone, etc, and paste your screenshot directly over the screen of the image. Crop the image (as needed) so it fits within the screen of the device you’re placing it on. You can find great pictures of computers (like the image seen below), tablets, and smartphones on unsplash.com.

Note: This option works great when the device is front facing (like the image seen below) but is more difficult when the device is displayed at an angle (like the image seen above).



Option 2: Go to Placeit and choose from a huge selection of contextual images that you can drop your screenshot into. Placeit will then take your screenshot and auto-magically drops it into the photo.

Note: Placeit costs $8 to download a big size version of the image (Standard (1920×1440, 4:3 or Wide 2720×960, 17:6). If you plan to use the service on a more frequent basis you can also sign up for one of their payment plan options.

There are certain PowerPoint hacks to create your own Placeit type images in PowerPoint. We will save that for a later post!



Screenshot Trick #2. The Physical Paper Effect



Another awesome way to improve the look of your screenshots is to add a shadow effect that makes the screenshot look like a physical piece of paper. The realistic look created with these shadows will attract your audience’s attention. It almost looks like you could pick the screenshot off the screen and hold it in your hand!

Check out the video tutorial below to see how it’s done:

How to create this screenshot effect: 

Step #1: Insert a Shape
Step #2: Change the color (use a dark grey color if placing on a white background)
Step #3: Give the shape some “Soft Edges” (within the Format Shape tab)
Step #4: Use the “Edit Shape” tool to modify the shape
Step #5: Right click and “Send the Shape to Back” (behind the screenshot)
Step #6: Move the shape around using your mouse or arrow keys for final placement

Screenshot Trick #3. The Small Bottom Shadow


A great way to give your screenshots a boost is to give them a feeling of depth. This bottom shadow technique makes the screenshots appear to be on a foreground above everything else.

How to create this screenshot effect: 

Step #1: Right click the screenshots and select Format Picture
Step #2: Click on Effects
Step #3: Click on Shadow
Step #4: Select Preset Options and then select the “Offset Bottom” option

Screenshot Trick #4. The Angle 


Another way to improve your screenshots is to use the angle effect.

The great thing about these angled screenshots is that they can direct a users attention in a particular direction. When you angle your screenshots (like seen in the above example) you keep the focus on the center image.

How to create this screenshot effect: 

Step #1: Right click the screenshot you want to apply an Angle effect to and click on Format Picture
Step #2: Click on 3D Rotation
Step #3: Select Preset Options and then select the “Perspective: Contrasting Right (or Left)” option

Screenshot Trick #5. The Glowing Background


If you want your screenshots to “standout” why not have some serious contrast with a cool looking glow effect. The glows in the background give a real physical spotlight feel to focus the user on the screenshot.

How to create this screenshot effect: 

Step #1: Right click the screenshots and select Format Picture
Step #2: Click on Effects
Step #3: Click on Glow
Step #4: Select Preset Options and then select the glow effect you desire. You can then change the color of the glow to whatever you want.


Does that mean every single screenshot, image, icon, button and header text should have these sort of screenshot effects?

Of course not. The screenshot examples highlighted in this post work because of the contrast they make between real world objects (in this case the screenshots) and graphics (gradients, fonts, etc.).

These screenshot techniques are effective because they draw the audience to focus on what your presenting (product, service, idea, etc.) without having to over-design. These different screenshot effects also create depth, and present the screenshots in the foreground.

You may think that screenshot effects are a minor detail but they do increase the appeal of what your presenting to your audience. Judging a book by it’s cover may be wrong, but it’s what people do, so win them over with a well presented product within a nice looking screenshot.

Here’s my question(s) for you …

Do you have have any tricks for making screenshots look better in PowerPoint? Do you have a particular screenshot tool that you use? Sound off in the comments below!

Lastly, do you have a friend that could benefit from learning about these screenshot effects? If so, email them the link to this post.

Thanks for reading and be sure to share this article if you enjoyed it (by using the sharing buttons to the left).

Hungry for more PowerPoint tips, tools, and tricks just like these? Here are a few articles you might like:

10 Essential PowerPoint Hacks For More Exciting Presentations

5 Presentation Design Tips for Amazing Looking Slides (Infographic)

5 Presentation Tools That Will Make Your Slides Stand Out

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