It can often be quite hard to think of the online world as a physical entity. For one thing, it isn’t tangible, but it’s still eerie how holding up a ruler to measure something on your screen can blur that distinction momentarily. This, by the way, brings me to an old bone I’ve had to pick with Windows for some time now; how come we don’t have a native solution to onscreen measurement? Holding out your thumb or fingers just isn’t feasible when you want to quantify a window’s dimensions or calibrate the distance between two objects. Well, you could try ScreenRuler to give you some sense of onscreen scale. Let’s find out more about this helpful little utility after the jump.
ScreenRuler is a portable app and doesn’t require installation; just extract the contents of the downloaded zip file and run the EXE file. The ruler appears immediately on top of any files or documents you have open.
The tool can be dragged around and placed next to items on the screen to get a sense of scale, or take an exact measurement in pixels. Right-clicking the ruler will bring down a context menu with more options. The same context menu can also be accessed by right-clicking the system tray icon of the app. ScreenRuler can be switched from horizontal to vertical orientation, making it possible to measure the breadth of a picture, or your screen’s display. Clicking ‘Center on Screen’ once will immediately bring the ruler, whether horizontal or vertical, to the middle of your screen.
Stationery is fun only when it’s customizable, and ScreenRuler takes account of that. You can change the on-screen ruler’s color at a moment’s whim, and even switch from an almost transparent ruler to a thick, opaque one for measuring items with too bright a background, under ‘Color…’ and ‘Opacity’ respectively. Here’s a screenshot of my ruler colored purple and at 100% opacity.
There are times when you want to keep the ruler on top of every other window you open. To do so, make sure you have the ‘Always On Top’ option checked.
ScreenRuler is very simple and a pleasure to use, but it does have a few noticeable shortcomings. For one thing, the program isn’t clear about what scale it’s using. While it may be obvious to many that it’s pixels, many casual users might not figure it themselves. There’s also no magnifying option, like the Tape Chrome Extension offers, so you might not be able to align the ruler next to an object accurately. You can get more than one ruler at a time by launching the EXE file multiple times, but there’s no way to snap or otherwise connect the rulers together. Still, despite these omissions, ScreenRuler is a fun, handy application that comes into its own when you want a quick, no-fuss sense of scale or pixel measurement without an over-riding concern for precision.
ScreenRuler is available for all versions of Windows OS, and was tested on Windows 8 Pro.