Screengrabs, screencaps, screenshots – whatever you want to call them, this unique operation allows you to capture an image of your computer desktop. Screenshot is useful at work when you want to show your coworkers’ web page edits or when you are calling on Skype on vacation and want to take a photo of your family across the country. Being able to capture those moments directly from your screen and save them as image files is one of the game-changers of the modern era of computers.
How to take a screenshot in Windows with the PrtScn key
The easiest way to save a copy of what is on your computer screen is to simply press the “Print Screen” key on your keyboard. It is usually labeled “PrtScn” (or something very similar) and is in the top row, between or near the function keys.
On some keyboards (especially laptops), you may need to turn on the Print Screen with the function key option (in other words, press and hold the function key and then press PrtScn).
Windows has several variations of PrtScn:
- Press PrtScn. This copies the entire screen to the clipboard. You can paste the screenshot into any program that displays images, such as Paint or Microsoft Word.
- Press Alt + PrtScn. This copies the active window to the clipboard, which you can paste into another program.
- Press Windows Key + Shift + S. The screen will dim and the mouse pointer will change. You can drag to select a part of the screen to capture. The screenshot will be copied to the clipboard, which you can paste into another program. (This shortcut only works if you have the latest version of Windows 10 installed, called Windows 10 Creators Update.)
- Press Windows Key + PrtScn. This saves the entire screen as an image file. You can find it in the “Pictures” folder, in a subfolder called “Screenshots”.
How to take a photo in Windows with Snipping Tool
Microsoft includes a much more flexible screen utility with Windows, called the Snipping Tool. You can use the Snipping Tool to capture and save an image as an image file without first pasting the screen capture into another program.
1. Launch the Snipping Tool from the Start menu.
2. In the “Mode” drop-down menu, select the type of screen shape you want; you can select anything from rectangular full screen to freeform.
3. Click New and your screen will freeze. You can then use the mouse to create the image. The screenshot will appear in the Snipping Tool window.
4. If you want to include something like tooltips, which are only visible after mouse movement, you can specify how long to wait before taking the screenshot using the Delay menu.
5. If you wish, once you have taken your photo, you can use the drawing tools to annotate the screenshot.
You can use the game bar to take a photo, whether you are playing games or not. Press Windows key + G to open the game bar. From here, you can click the screen button on the game bar or use the default Windows keyboard shortcut + Alt + PrtScn to take a full screen image. To set up the on-screen keyboard shortcut for your own game bar, go to Settings> Games> Game. To support a bit, you will need to enable the Game Bar from this settings page making sure you have recorded game clips, screenshots, and broadcasts using a Game Bar.
Windows Logo + Volume Down
If you’re teasing a Microsoft Surface device, you can use the physical (well, physical rating) buttons to snap a photo of its full screen, similar to how you would snap a photo on any other phone or tablet. To do this, press and hold the Windows logo touch button at the bottom of the Surface screen and press the physical volume down button on the side of the tablet. The screen will briefly shrink and the screenshot will automatically be saved in the Pictures> Screenshots folder.