Taking a screenshot is usually a small, basic task, but being able to do so is still an important skill. You might need to screenshot something for work, for record-keeping, or you may need to submit a screenshot to tech support. Or maybe you just want to capture an interesting moment happening on your computer.
Regardless of the why, there are a few ways to take a screenshot in Windows. First we’ll guide you through the easiest way — and then we’ll show you another helpful method afterwards.
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Step 1: Capture the image
Bring up whatever it is you want to capture on your screen and press the Print Screen (often shortened to “PrtScn”) key. It is typically located in the upper-right corner of your keyboard and will take a screengrab of everything on all of your displays. Alternatively, press Alt + Print Screen to capture a screenshot of the active window. If you’re on a laptop, you may need to press Fn + Print Screen or the Windows key + Print Screen if your laptop has another feature assigned to that particular key.
On many computers, your screen will flicker or darken briefly to let you know that the screenshot has been taken. However, sometimes there’s no obvious sign that screenshot worked, so you’ll have to look in your storage to make sure it was taken. Note that if you aren’t using the Fn key, make sure that the key is not illuminated or turned on: On some laptops, a lit Fn key will prevent the screenshot process from working properly because Windows registers three keys instead of two (same with Caps lock, etc.).
Microsoft’s OneDrive will typically save the screen automatically in the OneDrive folder. You will now be able to find it there, in Pictures, under Screenshots (the Screenshots folder may appear if this is your first one). You can go here to open the file and rename it if you wish. If you have Dropbox installed, the screenshot may also be automatically deposited in your Dropbox directory, under Screenshots (ideal for your “Showcase“).
Step 2: Open Paint
Check out your screenshot in the Screenshots folder. If you like it just the way it is, great! You can save it, move it, attach it to an email, and upload it wherever you need. However, for many screenshots, you may also want to crop or alter it in some way. There are many programs that can do this, but the one closest at hand is the long-suffering Microsoft Paint.
As long as you’re running the latest version of Windows 10, type “Paint” into the Windows search bar and click the corresponding result.
Step 3: Paste the screenshot
Once Paint is open, click the Paste button in the upper-left corner of the program, or press Ctrl + V on the keyboard to paste your screenshot. You should see the image you captured appear in your edit windows in Paint.
From there, perform any edits you want, including cropping or selecting a certain part of the image.
Step 4: Save the screenshot
Click the main File option in the upper-left corner, followed by Save as.
Title the new file, choose a save location, and select your desired file format from the drop-down menu. For most purposes, JPG will do fine, but a variety of other formats are available to choose from such as PNG, BMP, GIF and others. Click the gray Save button in the bottom-right corner when finished.
And that’s it! You’re done.
Alternatives: The Snipping Tool
The best alternative method is the Windows 10 Snipping Tool. The built-in screen capture utility in Windows works well enough, but it’s not the most robust or versatile when it comes to saving a snapshot of your screen. The Snipping Tool, however, is a utility that allows users to better define and capture portions of their desktop display as a screenshot, without the need for a keyboard.
To start, just type Snipping Tool into the Windows 10 search bar and select it to open it up. From there, it’ll give you options such as drawing a Free-form Snip, a Windows Snip, or a Rectangular Snip. You can even set it to delay a certain amount of time if you’re trying to capture a precise moment in a video or animation. You can then take repeated snips in the same mode simply by pressing the Alt and N keys.
The Snipping Tool continues to gain new functionality as well. For example, it can now use image editing functions to create the Snip & Sketch application. Any time you take a screenshot it will automatically appear as a thumbnail — like MacOS Mojave does — so that you can then take it straight to the Snip & Sketch app for easy editing. However, it’s worth noting that Microsoft has said (via a message in the Snipping Tool app itself) that the Snipping Tool “will be moving to a new home” in a future Windows update. But the technology company does encourage users to “snip like usual” with the new Snip & Sketch app.
You also can try pressing the Windows Key + Shift + S together to activate the Snip & Sketch application without having to open it. Like in MacOS, it will darken the screen, and allow you to select where you want to snip, and then save the image to the clipboard for transferring to Paint or other applications.
If you want even more options for choosing and customizing your screenshot (and don’t mind downloading a new app), we suggest giving LightShot a try. LightShot may be a better option for more professional work, or screenshots that need significant editing.
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