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How to take a screenshot?

Step 1: Capture the image

A Dell computer keyboard. Here's how to take a screenshot on PCs
Windows provides six methods for taking a screenshot. Three require the Print Screen key (PrtScn), while the others require the Windows key (Win).

On external keyboards, you will find a PrtScn key located in the upper right corner. The Win key usually resides in the lower left corner between the Control (Ctrl) and Alternate (Alt) keys. It has the Windows logo on it, so it is easy to identify.

On laptops, the Print Screen command can be combined with another function on a single key, as shown above. In this case, you must press the Function (Fn) key in addition to the Print Screen key.

Here we break down the six screenshot commands:

Print screen (PrtScn): captures the entire screen. If you have more than one screen, this function as a single image that is displayed on all connected screens. By default, it does not save your image as a file, but simply sends the content to the clipboard.
Alt + Print screen: captures a single window. Be sure to highlight the target window first, such as a document or browser, before pressing these keys (or three on a laptop). By default, it also does not save the image as a file, but sends it to the clipboard.
Win + Print screen: captures the entire screen. The difference is that Windows saves the image as a file. By default, it is sent to C: Users <username> Images Screenshots on your PC.
Win + Shift + S: Take a screenshot with the integrated Snip & Sketch tool. The screen is dimmed and offers four options in a small toolbar: rectangular, freeform, window and fullscreen. It also does not save the screenshots as an image, but sends them to the clipboard. More about this function later.
Win + G: open the game bar. Click the screenshot button and this tool will save an image to C: Users <username> VideosCaptures by default. To use this tool, the game bar must be enabled in Settings> Games> Games> Game Bar.
Win + Alt + Print screen: captures the entire screen. Saves an image to C: Users <username> VideosCaptures by default. To use this tool, make sure that the Game Bar screenshot feature is enabled in Settings> Games> Game Bar.
In some cases, the screen flickers or dims to indicate that Windows took a screenshot. If it doesn't, open File Explorer and go to the default locations to see if Windows saved the image.

If you use OneDrive, you can save screenshots to the cloud so they are accessible from all your devices. It doesn't do this by default, but you need to right-click on the cloud icon parked next to the system clock and click Settings in the pop-up menu. Then press the Backup tab in the resulting pop-up window and check the box under Screenshots.

In this case, you can press the first three Print Screen commands to automatically save an image to OneDrive. You won't see the screen flicker or dim, but you will receive a notification. Make sure to sync the Screenshots folder if you want to access the images on your PC.

Step 2: Open Paint

If you used a method that saves the screenshot locally as a file, you can locate and view the image using the Photos app. If it worked, you can move it, attach it to an email, upload it to the cloud, and so on. However, if you need to crop an image, especially those taken on PCs with more than one screen, you have three native tools at your disposal: Paint, Paint 3D and Photos.

Compared to Paint and Paint 3D, Microsoft's new Photos app is limited. You can rotate and crop images, change the aspect ratio, apply filters, adjust colour, remove red-eye and more. However, you cannot draw, paint, create a picture from scratch or paste from the clipboard.

In this guide, we use Paint because it is familiar and reliable. By default, you won't find it in the Start menu. Instead, type Paint in the field on the taskbar and click on the resulting desktop application.

Paint may also be available when you right-click on an image. When the pop-up menu appears, move your mouse pointer over the Open With option in the menu to find Paint, as shown below.

You can also locate the program (mspaint.exe) in the C: WindowsSystem32 directory. Right-click on the file and select Pin to Startup from the pop-up menu.

Step 3: Paste the capture (clipboard methods only)

You will need to follow this step if you used one of the methods that sent the screenshot to the clipboard.

With Paint open, click the Paste Clipboard Style button in the top left corner. You can also press the Ctrl and V keys on your keyboard to paste the image into the blank Paint canvas, which will expand as required.

With the screenshot successfully inserted into Paint, you can crop, paint, create shapes, add text and more. If you want to add stickers, 3D shapes, effects and more, click the Edit with Paint 3D button on the far right of the toolbar.

Step 4: Save the screenshot

This step applies to all screen capture methods.

When you have finished editing the image, click on the Main File option in the top left corner. Then select Save As from the drop-down menu. This option expands with a choice of four file formats: PNG, JPEG, BMP and GIF, along with the option Other formats to save your image as a TIFF or HEIC file.

If you are unfamiliar with image formats, see our JPEG vs. PNG guide.

It's that easy!


Snipping Tool

The best workaround is Windows 10's native crop tool. Windows' built-in screenshot utility works well enough, but it's not the strongest or versatile when it comes to saving an image. However, the crop tool is quite useful, as it allows users to better define and capture the desired portion of their desktop screen as an image, without the need for a keyboard. It's not as fast as just pressing Print Screen, but it's much more accurate.

To get started, simply type Snipping Tool in the search field of the taskbar and select the resulting application. Once it opens, you will see an update notification. Snipping Tool is still an available tool, but Microsoft encourages you to use Snip & Sketch or the keyboard shortcut Win + Shift + S.

With the tool open, click the Mode button to expand the menu. You will find four screenshot options: Draw a window (Freeform Crop), box in an area (Rectangular Crop), capture the current window (Windows Crop) and capture the entire screen (Full Screen Crop).

If you use the freeform and rectangular modes, the screen becomes white. Once you start defining the screen capture space, the white tint will be erased within that area. If you are capturing a specific window, its screen is tinted white, except for the content within that window.

The cropping tool also includes a delay function. You can wait between one and five seconds before taking a screenshot so that you can capture a precise moment in a video or animation. You can then take repeated snippets in the same mode by simply pressing the Alt + N keys.

Once you take a screenshot, the Snipping Tool interface expands to display the screenshot. You can make light edits, such as using a pen, highlighter and eraser. You can also click the Paint 3D button to make additional edits in the latest application.

When you have finished editing within the cropping tool, click on File in the top left corner and then click on the Save As option, which appears in the drop-down menu.

Snip & Sketch

Snip & Sketch is Microsoft's newest option. You can access it from the Start Menu, or by pressing Win + Shift + S on your keyboard.

If you use the keyboard shortcut, the screen will darken and you will see a toolbar with five buttons at the top. You will have the same functions as the Snipping Tool, but your screenshots will not be saved as a file. Instead, the image goes directly to the clipboard.

If you open the Snip & Sketch application, click on New in the top left corner, and choose Crop Now from the drop-down menu. The screen will darken and the toolbar with five buttons will appear. In this case, the capture will be loaded into the application, allowing you to crop the image and make modifications.

When you are ready, save the image to your PC by clicking on the button that looks like a disc. If you prefer to edit and save the image with another programme, click on the three dots icon in the toolbar and choose the Open with option.

How to take a screenshot in Windows 11

Windows 11 is now available to the public. When you upgrade your PC to the latest version of Microsoft's operating system, you'll probably still want to take screenshots. Don't worry too much about it; the steps are the same as in Windows 10.

Following the instructions above, you can use Paint, Print Screen, Snipping Tool or Snip & Sketch.

Third-party programmes

If you're looking for more options to customise your screenshots (and don't mind downloading a new app), we suggest you try LightShot. The LightShot app may be a better option for more professional work or screenshots that require significant editing.

We also suggest GNU Image Manipulation Program or GIMP. It is an open source tool for users who do not want to pay a subscription to Adobe Photoshop. It provides everything you need to create illustrations, edit high definition images and more.

Updated on: 30/07/2022

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