There are many reasons one might need to take a snapshot of a web page. Most often, it’s to archive existing content or keep track of page variations.
While Google and other sites cache web pages, the best way to ensure you’ve got a timestamped copy of any page is to capture it yourself.
Here are some common tools and methods (most of them free) to help you keep track of pages via snapshots:
- The Print Screen key. The quickest and easiest way to capture what a page looks like is to use the Print Screen function. This captures what’s seen on the actual screen (no scrolling) and stores it in memory as a copy. You can then open any graphics or document program and paste the image to save it.
To “print screen” capture on a Mac, hold down the Apple key ⌘ + Shift + 3, then release. Then, click your mouse on the screen.
- Use a screen capture tool. I especially like Snag It, which allows you to capture pages several different ways, including saving an entire page by scrolling in the browser.
- Create a PDF. If you have a PDF creator, you can “print” the page to a PDF file. If not, you can use a free service called PDFMYURL.com (simply enter the full URL of the page and the service will create a PDF file which you can save to your desktop.
- Save As… Most web browsers allow you to save entire web pages to a local HTML file. If your browser doesn’t offer this option – or if results are less than desired – you can always view the source code of a page and copy and paste its contents to a separate file.
After capturing a page, name it logically so you can easily reference it later. Some programs will, by default, name the file in timestamp format, which isn’t terribly helpful when you need to find something on the fly.