Working With OLE Graphics

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 15, 2015)

When anything is copied to the Clipboard, it is internally maintained in a range of formats that the receiving application--the one it will get Pasted into--might be able to deal with. This can be seen from within the Windows Clipboard Viewer (which, unfortunately, is not installed by default in some versions of Windows) under its Display menu. Typically, the types of format in which an object can be maintained include Text (plain text characters), Rich Text (includes the formatting), Picture (think of a Windows Metafile and you won't be far wrong), Bitmap (pixel-based image), and OLE format.

This latter format is of particular interest since the object is maintained as something that is controlled by the OLE server application from which it was copied. For example, something copied from within Microsoft Paint could be pasted as a Microsoft Paint OLE object, a slide copied from PowerPoint could be pasted as a PowerPoint Slide OLE object, and an image (or part of one) copied from PaintShop Pro could be pasted as a PaintShop Pro OLE object. If the item on the Clipboard is pasted into an OLE client application (such as Word) as an OLE object, then it can be directly edited using the OLE server from which it was copied.

Normally, when you use simple Copy and Paste, all this stuff is hidden away and an object is pasted according to a default approach utilized for all objects of that particular type. However, most OLE client applications (including Word) offer a Paste Special command on the Edit menu. It is this version of paste that provides a greater degree of control over how the Clipboard item gets pasted. Using this command you see a dialog box that shows the formats the OLE client application (the one receiving the object) can handle. For example, some text copied out of a text box in PowerPoint might be pasteable as Text, RTF Text, a Picture, or a Bitmap. Choosing any one of these will result in the object being pasted in the chosen format and that can give very different results. In this case, pasting text as a bitmap means it won't be editable. Pasting it as plain text means it will assume the current paragraph/character formatting where it's pasted, whereas pasting as RTF means it will bring it's own formatting with it (well, it does that sometimes).

So, enough background stuff. What does this mean for pasting screen captures such that they are editable in a specific bitmap editor? It means that, at some point in the process, the screen capture image must be placed inside that editor application so it can become an OLE object from that application. In general step-by-step terms this could be:

  1. Capture the screen or part of screen, either using a screen capture feature of an application like PaintShop Pro, or using the Alt+PrintScreen keyboard approach built into Windows.
  2. Rather than paste the captured image directly into Word, paste it into the chosen bitmap editor, i.e., PaintShop Pro or Microsoft Paint. Now the image in the application can be copied as a OLE object from that application.
  3. Choose Copy from the Edit menu within the bitmap application to copy an OLE object to the Clipboard. This will replace the basic bitmap object that was originally stored on the Clipboard by the screen capture step.
  4. Switch to Word and choose Paste Special from the Edit menu. Word displays the Paste Special dialog box.
  5. From the list of available object formats, choose to paste the image as an object. This will be listed as an <Application> Object, where <Application> is the name of the application (such as PaintShop Pro or Microsoft Paint) you used to do the copying in step 3.
  6. Click on OK. This will paste the image as a OLE object and subsequently double-clicking on the image will open the OLE server application (either as a separate window, or "in-place") for editing the image.

An alternative to this is to create a new embedded object in Word choosing a suitable bitmap OLE server as the type of object, then paste a screen capture into that object. Care might be needed with this approach to make sure the size of the OLE object's image area created in Word is a sufficient for the size of image you're going to paste into it. The steps used for this approach are as follows:

  1. Capture the screen or part of screen, either using a screen capture feature of an application like PaintShop Pro, or using the Alt+PrintScreen keyboard approach built into Windows.
  2. Within Word, choose Object from the Insert menu. This displays the Object dialog box.
  3. Make sure the Create New tab is selected. This tab displays a list of object types you can insert in your program.
  4. Using the object list, select a suitable bitmap type of object such as PaintShop Pro Image or MS Paint Image (or Corel PhotoPaint, or PhotoShop, or whatever you have available and would prefer to use).
  5. Click on OK. You may see a dialog box asking for the size of object to insert. As desired, set the image area of this new object. It should be large enough to contain the image you are about to paste into it.
  6. Within the object's application (which should now be visible on your screen), use the paste command to place the image you captured in step 1 into the object you are creating for Word.
  7. Exit the graphic application. The image appears in Word, and subsequently double-clicking on the image will open the graphics program that is associated with the object.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1673) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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