How to take a screenshot on a Chromebook

Grabbing screenshots on a Chromebook may be slightly different than what you’re accustomed to on a Windows laptop or MacBook, but the process remains equally simple. Whether you want to capture the entire screen or simply snap a portion, the keyboard commands are easy to use and remember.

Read on to find out how to take a screenshot on a Chromebook using keyboard shortcuts or a stylus. We also list additional tips and tools you can use to capture your Chromebook’s screen.

Quick tips

  • Hold down the Ctrl + Switch window keys to capture a full screenshot.
  • Hold down the Ctrl + Shift + Switch window keys to capture a specific area.

Capture a full screenshot

Chromebook Screenshot CTRL Switch

To take a screenshot of everything on your screen, press the following keys simultaneously:

Ctrl + Switch window

The latter button is typically located in the top row between the Full-screen and Brightness down buttons, as shown above. It resembles a rectangle followed by two lines and replaces the typical F5 key found on standard keyboards.

Chrome OS Capture Screenshot

Once you press both keys, a notification appears in the bottom right corner displaying a thumbnail of your screenshot. Clicking the thumbnail leads you to the Downloads folder — this is where all screenshots go by default, making them accessible offline. You can also access this folder by clicking the blue Files folder-style icon on the taskbar.

Chrome OS labels all screenshots with the date and time they were captured.

Since Chrome OS saves screenshots locally on your device, they won’t be available on Google Drive unless you manually upload them to the cloud. To do so, follow these steps:

Step 1: With both the Files app and Downloads folder open, click the icon next to the magnifying glass icon on the toolbar so that the screenshots are displayed in Thumbnail view (if they aren’t already).

Step 2: Select the screenshot you want to upload. For multiple uploads, click the “check” icon on each screenshot.

Step 3: Click the “share” button located in the top right corner.

Step 4: Select Save to Drive on the drop-down menu.  As shown, below you can send the screenshot to other accounts too, like OneDrive and Dropbox. Check out our guide on how to use Google Drive for more useful tips.

Chrome OS Save Screenshot to Drive

If you have a Chromebook with a 360-degree hinge like a Pixelbook, skip to the “Screenshots in Tablet Mode” section in this guide for an alternate touch-based method.

Further reading

Capture a specific area

Chromebook Partial Screenshot Command

Based on the latest version of Chrome OS, you can now create a window to capture a partial screen. Google previously switched to capturing only a specific window, but as of Version 83, that no longer seems to be the case. Here’s how:

Ctrl + Shift + Switch window

Step 1: Hold down the CtrlShift keys simultaneously, then press the Switch window button.

Step 2: The screen dims and the cursor temporarily changes to a crosshair. Use the crosshair to start one corner of your capture area and hold down on the mouse button or touchpad.

Step 3: Drag the cursor across the screen using your mouse or finger until you create a box. Let go of the mouse button or lift your finger to complete the box and capture the screen.

The captured window saves to the Downloads folder, the same as a full screenshot.

Screenshots in tablet mode

Tablet And stylus stock photo
PhotoMIX-Company/Pixabay

Use the buttons

Many 2-in-1s and tablets running Chrome OS may not have immediate access to a keyboard. Don’t worry: There’s an easy screenshot shorthand you can use in tablet mode. Press the following physical buttons simultaneously:

Power + Volume Down

Your screen registers the screenshot and takes an image of the entire screen.

Use a stylus – full capture

You can capture a screenshot of your entire screen using a stylus too. Here’s how:

Step 1: Tap Stylus.

Step 2: Use the stylus to tap the Capture Screen option. This grabs a screenshot of your entire screen.

Use a stylus – partial capture

Want to capture only a part of your screen? Follow these steps:

Step 1: Tap Stylus.

Step 2: Use the stylus to tap the Capture Region option.

Step 3: Use the stylus to touch and hold your starting point on the screen.

Step 4: Drag your stylus to the final point, creating a box.

Step 5: Release to capture your screenshot.

Other tips and tricks

Copying screenshots

Chrome OS Copy Screenshot to Clipboard

Chrome OS doesn’t automatically send screenshots to the clipboard like pressing the Print Screen button does in Windows.

If you want to copy a screenshot (for insertion into an image editor, for example), watch for the notification that appears above the system clock when you take a screenshot. As shown above, click the Copy to clipboard button, then press Ctrl + V when you want to paste it.

Alternatively, find the screenshot on your Chromebook, select it, and simply press Ctrl + C to copy it to the clipboard and Ctrl + V to paste, just like Windows.

Editing screenshots

Screenshots captured by Chrome OS are ready to share, but if you need to edit them first, familiarize yourself with the built-in image editor. Here’s how to access it:

Step 1: Click the blue folder icon on the taskbar to open the Downloads folder.

Step 2: Double-click your screenshot to open it in the image viewer.

Step 3: Click the pen icon located in the top right corner to enter Edit mode.

Chrome OS Image Edit Mode

Tools for cropping, rotation, and brightness adjustments appear in a toolbar located above the taskbar, as shown below:

Chrome OS Image Edit Toolbar

Step 4: When you’re done, click the pen icon again to finalize your edits, or click Exit located just above the system clock.

The built-in editor doesn’t allow you to save copies, so you may want to copy the image manually first to keep the original unedited capture.

Using external keyboards

If you’re using a Chrome OS-powered desktop (Chromebox) or an external keyboard plugged into your Chromebook, the keyboard probably uses a standard function key row instead of Chrome’s dedicated button row. Here are the Chrome OS commands that replace the typical function key commands:

  • F1 – Previous page
  • F2 – Next page
  • F3 – Refresh
  • F4 – Fullscreen
  • F5 – Switch window
  • F6 – Decrease brightness
  • F7 – Increase brightness
  • F8 – Mute
  • F9 – Decrease volume
  • F10 – Increase volume

For capturing a screenshot, type Ctrl + F5 on a standard keyboard. For a partial capture, press Ctrl + Shift first followed by F5.

Other screenshot tools

Clipular

The built-in image tools for Chrome OS are a bit anemic, but luckily there are plenty of apps and extensions on Google’s Chrome Web Store to help add extra functionality. Here are some helpful picks:

Lightshot: Lightshot is a great beginner option that allows you to drag and drop a screenshot over any section of the screen. You can edit the screenshot in place, then download it or send it to the cloud. It’s easy to use and widely applicable for most purposes.

FireShot: Save an entire page as an image without multiple screenshots. You can save in multiple formats and send them directly to OneNote or email.

Awesome Screenshot: For those who want a broader, more powerful tool, Awesome Screenshot allows you to choose between screen capture and screencasting so you can also capture video whenever you want. The app supports annotations and easy blurring as well.

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