A screenshot is a snapshot image of whatever is visible on your screen at a given moment. It’s great for sharing real-time information with technical support, or for saving information on the web that might be subject to change in the future.
Taking screenshots is one of those things that you either do all the time or never at all. But with IT departments becoming ever more remote and online information prone to becoming out of date or disappearing so quickly, being able to save a permanent record of whatever you’re looking at is a useful skill to have.
Thankfully, Windows has made it really easy to do with just a few keystrokes or clicks of the mouse. So, pick the one you’re most likely to remember from the options explained below and give it a try!
Every version of Windows since the Vista days has had a handy, purpose-built tool included in your basic Applications to make taking a screenshot quick and easy.
- 1. Open the Snipping Tool. You can do this by selecting it from the main Start Menu or by typing Snip into the Search Bar.
- 2. Click New in the top left corner of the window to start the screenshot-taking process.
- 3. The default option is for you to select what you want by dragging a rectangle around it, but you also have free-form, full screen, and window (which will snapshot the window you have open) options, too.
- 4. The image you capture will open within Snipping Tool for further actions - like cropping or sending by email - available in the menu at the top.
- 5. Snipping Tool doesn’t automatically save your screenshot so if you want to keep it, you’ll have to do this manually before closing the window down.
Early versions of the Snipping Tool did not include any way of taking screenshots of things that involved mouse clicks. Because you’re using the mouse at the time of capture, there’s no way of including things like an open menu or pop up messages.
Microsoft has resolved this problem in Windows 10 by including a Delay option. You can find this in the main menu at the top of the Snipping Tool window. Simply select how many seconds you need to get your mouse in place for the screenshot.
Snip and Sketch
Microsoft has announced that Snipping Tool is being phased out with updates and new versions of Windows. They’ve replaced it with a new program - Snip and Sketch - which does basically the same thing.
- 1. Open Snip and Sketch from your program’s menu.
- 2. Again, the new button in the top left corner will start the snapshot process.
- 3. The Snip and Sketch window will disappear to be replaced by a small menu at the top of your screen from which you can select what kind of screenshot you want.
- 4. Rectangular, free-form and full screen are all here but there’s no longer an option for a window. You can still achieve this, though, by opening the window you want and manually dragging around it.
- 5. As with the original Snipping Tool, the image opens within the window, along with a menu of tools for editing, annotating, drawing, etc.
- 6. Your screenshot, along with any annotations, is saved to the clipboard automatically.
Don’t worry if you’re running an older version of Windows or you don’t have a snipping tool. The old school ways still work as they always have. This is what the Print Screen key was invented for.
- 1. First, locate your Print Screen key. Depending on your make and model, it will either read PrtSc or PrtSc SysRq, but it’s usually located towards the top right corner of the keyboard.
- 2. If you’re using a laptop, some of your keys will have multiple functions as a way of saving space. Secondary functions are highlighted in a different color (mine are blue) and you access them by holding the Function key (Fn, usually found in the bottom left corner of your keyboard by the CTRL and Windows keys) before hitting the relevant key.
- 3. This way of taking a screenshot will grab your whole screen but probably won’t give you any indication that it’s worked. Also, because you’re just copying the screen, you won’t see any image until you paste it somewhere.
- 4. A word document or email is fine for this, but you’ll need to paste it into an image editor like Microsoft Paint for any drawing, annotations or formatting.
- 5. Once you’re done in MS Paint, hit save in the top left menu and save your image in a JPEG or BMP file format so you can keep it for whatever you need to do with it.
ALT + Print Screen
This method is just a variation of the one above. It allows you to take a snapshot of just your active window, as opposed to the entire screen. It copies it to your clipboard so, as with the instructions above, you’ll need to paste it somewhere for viewing, editing, and saving.
You can find your ALT key on the bottom row of your keyboard, just the left of your space bar. There’s another one on the other side, too.
Windows Key + Print Screen
This way works more or less the same as the method above, but with a few tiny differences.
- 1. Locate your windows key. It’s more or less right next door to the ALT key, in the bottom left corner of your keyboard. It looks like a stylized image of a window.
- 2. Hold this down and, as you do, hit the PrtSc key.
- 3. The screen will flash to indicate a screenshot has been captured and you’ll know you were successful.
- 4. With this method, you don’t need to worry about manually saving your screenshot. It’s gone straight into your main Pictures folder, within a subfolder named “screenshots”. The individual screenshot files are automatically numbered in order of them being taken.
Windows Key + Shift + S
If you’re running the very latest version of Windows, you don’t need the snipping tools to take a rectangular screenshot of part of your screen.
- 1. Hold down the Windows key, the shift key, and the S key. You’ll find the shift key between the CTRL and Caps Lock keys in the bottom left corner of your keyboard. There’s another Shift key on the other side, too, usually just below the Enter (or Return) key.
- 2. That key combination will gray out your screen and change the shape of your mouse cursor. Use the new cursor to click and drag a box around the part of your screen you want to capture.
- 3. This image will be copied to your clipboard and, as with the methods above, you can paste it wherever you like for editing, formatting, and saving.