You can take a screenshot on just about any platform, and Windows is no different. It has a bulit-in option that works great for basic tasks, but many third-party programs offer more ease of use and features. In this article I’ll show you a few different ways to take a screenshot in Windows 10.
1Take Quick Screenshots with Print Screen
The Print Screen button on your keyboard can take a screenshot and save it as a file, take a screenshot without saving it as a file, or take a screenshot of only one window (instead of the whole screen). The print screen button may be labeled as “PrtScn,” “PrntScrn,” “Print Scr,” or something similar. On most keyboards, the button is usually found between F12 and Scroll Lock. On laptop keyboards, you may have to press the “Function” or “Fn” key to access the Print Screen feature. When you press the key, it will look like nothing happened, but the screenshot has been saved to your clipboard.
To Save Your Screenshot as a File
Press the “Windows logo key + PrtScn.” If you’re using a tablet, press the “Windows logo button + volume down button.” On some laptops and other devices, you may need to press the “Windows logo key + Ctrl + PrtScn” or “Windows logo key + Fn + PrtScn” keys instead. Check your laptop’s manual for more information.
The screen will dim for a moment, and you will see the screenshot appear as a file in a folder entitled “Screenshots”, inside your default “Pictures” folder. The screenshot is automatically labeled with a number.
You will only see your screen dim if you have the “Animate windows when minimizing and maximizing” turned on in your visual effects settings (System > Advanced system settings > Click the Advanced tab > Click Settings under Performance section).
To Take a Screenshot Without Saving
Press the “PrtScn” key. A screenshot of your display is now copied to the clipboard. Open your favorite image editor, word processor, or other program you want to use the image in. Choose Edit > Paste to paste the screenshot wherever you like. The dimensions of the image will be the same as your desktop resolution. Note: On some laptops and other devices, you may need to press the “Alt + Fn + PrtScn” keys instead. Check your laptop’s manual for more information.
Taking a screenshot in Windows is done in the exact same way no matter what version of Windows you’re using, and it’s very, very, easy. Just hit the PrtScn button on the keyboard.
Note: The print screen button might be called Print Scrn, Prnt Scrn, Prt Scrn, Prt Scr, Prt Sc or Pr Sc on your keyboard.
There are a few ways you can use the print screen button:
- PrtScn: Hitting the button once saves a screenshot of the entire screen.
If you have multiple monitors connected together, a single press of the print screen button will save a screenshot of all the screens in one single image.
- Alt+PrtScn: Strike these buttons at the same time to take a screenshot of a single window that you’re focused on. Select the window once to make sure it’s in focus, and then hit these keys.
- Win+PrtScn: Using the Windows key with the print screen button (in Windows 8 and newer) will take a screenshot of the whole screen and then save it in the default Pictures folder in a subfolder called Screenshots (e.g. C:\Users\[user]\Pictures\Screenshots).
Note: With the exception of the last print screen function described above, Windows doesn’t tell you when the print screen button was clicked. Rather, it saves the image to the clipboard so that you can paste it somewhere else, which is explained in the next section below.
To Take a Screenshot of Only One Window
Click on the title bar of the window that you want to capture. Press “Alt + PrtScn”. A screenshot of your currently active window will be copied to the clipboard, just as in the last section. Paste it into your favorite image editor or document editor. Note: On some laptops and other devices, you may need to press the “Alt + Fn + PrtScn” keys instead. Check your laptop’s manual for more information.
To Take a Screenshot of Part of Your Screen
Press “Windows + Shift + S”. Your screen will appear grayed out and your mouse cursor will change. Click and drag on your screen to select the part of your screen you want to capture. A screenshot of the screen region you selected will be copied to your clipboard. You can paste it in any application by selecting Edit > Paste or pressing Ctrl + V, just as you’d paste a full-screen shortcut taken with the Print Screen key.
This only works in Windows 10’s Creators Update. On older versions of Windows, this shortcut is part of Microsoft’s OneNote application. With the Creators Update, Microsoft integrated this shortcut into Windows 10 itself.
2Take More Flexible Screenshots with Snipping Tool
The Snipping tool has been a part of the Windows for long time. This tool was first included in Windows Vista, and never got any new features apart from few bug fixes. Snipping tool can take screenshots of an open window, rectangular area, a free-form area, or the entire screen. You can annotate your snips with different colored pens or a highlighter, save it as an image or MHTML file, or email it to a friend.
Snipping Tool in Windows Vista, 7, and 8 has one limitation: it can’t capture screenshots that involve mouse movements. To capture something that involves mouse movement, like pop-up menus and tooltips, you will have to use the Print Screen method.
In Windows 10, Snipping Tool has a new “Delay” option, which will allow you to capture screenshots pop-up menus and tooltips. Open the Snipping Tool app and click Delay. From the drop-down list, click on the number of seconds you’d like to wait until your screenshot is taken.
Now choose the type of snip you want to make by clicking the arrow next to “New.” You can choose from one of four types of snip: free-form, rectangular, window, and full-screen.
Unlike a regular snip, the screen will not immediately fade out. Instead, you will have between 1–5 seconds, depending on the delay you chose, to set up your screenshots. You can use this time to open that pop-up menu or tooltip you want to capture. Once your seconds have passed, the screen will freeze and fade out so you can create your snip. If you chose window or full-screen, it will just capture the snip immediately.
3Use Keyboard Shortcuts with Game Bar in Windows 10
Windows 10 ships with game DVR capabilities to record gameplay footage and take screenshots of Windows PC games. The Game Bar generates screenshots in PNG format, and saves them in “C:\Users\[your username]\Videos\Captures.” Before you start using the Game Bar, launch the Xbox app that came with Windows 10 open its settings. Under “Game DVR”, toggle “Take screenshots using Game DVR,” and assign whatever keyboard shortcuts you want.
When you want to take a screenshot, use that keyboard combination (“Windows key + G” by default) and click or tap on the “Yes, this is a game” box if prompted. Now press the “Camera icon” or “Win + Alt + PrtScn” to take a screenshot. Note: The keyboard shortcut will only work if you have previously checked the “Yes, this is a game” box for this specific game. You will see a notification letting you know “Screenshot saved.” If you click or tap on the notification, it will open to “Xbox > Game DVR > On this PC” to see it.
4Modifier keys to take a screenshot on windows 10
With Windows 10, a new screen capture hotkey combination was introduced. Holding the Windows key and pressing the Print Screen button will save a screenshot as an image, removing the need to paste the capture into Paint to save it manually.
By default, these screen captures will be saved at This PC > Pictures > Screenshots.
The problem is that this still captures the entire display — including a second monitor if you have one. If you want to capture just a single open window without everything else, hold Alt while pressing the PrtSc button. This captures the current active window, so make sure to click inside the window you want to capture before pressing the key combination.
Sadly, this doesn’t work with the Windows modifier key. Pressing Windows + Alt + PrtSc doesn’t do anything at all. So when you use the Alt + PrtSc hotkey, you will still need to paste the capture into Paint and save it.
Of course, there is a workaround.
OneDrive or Dropbox
If you use Microsoft’s OneDrive, which comes preinstalled, or Dropbox and have the application installed on your Windows machine, you can opt to have all screen captures saved to your cloud storage automatically.
This feature saves any Alt + PrtSc captures as images without the need for pasting into Paint.
Captures using the Print Screen key will be saved locally, either at OneDrive > Pictures > Screenshots or Dropbox > Screenshots, and automatically synced to your cloud storage.
To enable this feature in OneDrive:
- Click the Show hidden icons button in the Notification Area in the Taskbar.
- Locate and right-click on the OneDrive icon.
- Click Settings.
- Open the Auto Save tab and check the box beside Automatically save screenshots I capture to OneDrive.
- Click the Show hidden icons button in the Notification Area in the Taskbar.
- Locate and right-click on the Dropbox icon.
- Click the settings drop-down in the upper right corner of the window that appears.
- Click Preferences and open the Import tab.
- Check the box beside Share screenshots using Dropbox.
More precise screenshots
Windows comes with screen-capture software installed, as well. It’s called the Snipping Tool and it’s your best bet if you need more precise screen captures of only specific parts of your screen.
Click the Start button, start typing “snipping tool” and click on the app to open it. To capture an open window, click the drop-down menu beside New, select Window Snip and click on any window. Everything visible within the borders of that window (including other windows that overlap it) will be captured and available to edit, annotate, share or save as an image within the Snipping Tool app.
Also, you can use the Snipping Tool to select a custom portion of the screen. Click the dropdown beside New and select Free-form Snip or Rectangular Snip. Click once and hold to initiate the capture, drag until you’ve selected the entire area you want to capture, and release to finish.
5More tools to take a screenshot in windows
If you don’t want to use the Snipping Tool another handy way to grab screenshots is to use the built-in clip tool that comes with the free program OneNote for the Windows desktop. Be sure you don’t use the Windows Store version as that program, while nice to use, doesn’t offer the same tools as the desktop build.
The OneNote clip tool sits in the system tray of the taskbar. To find it in Windows 10 (other versions of Windows will follow a similar process), click the upward-facing arrow to the far right of your desktop. In the window that opens look for a purple icon that includes a pair of scissors.
Now right-click the icon and then select Take screen clipping from the context menu. Similar to the Snipping Tool, your screen will then freeze and allow you to line up your shot.
Once you’ve taken the shot, OneNote will pop-up a small context window allowing you to choose whether to copy the new screenshot to your clipboard or paste the image directly into an existing or new notebook.
As if that wasn’t enough, Windows 10 users have one final tool they can use for screenshots in Microsoft Edge. In the upper right corner of the new built-in browser for Windows, you’ll see a square icon with a pencil in it. This is called Edge’s “Web Note” feature. Click on that icon while visiting any web page and a new OneNote-style menu appears at the top of the browser window. The screen will also freeze if a YouTube video is playing,
On the upper left side, you’ll see an icon with a pair of scissors. Click that and once again you’ll be able to line up and take a rectangular screen snip inside the web page. Once the snip has been taken you’ll have to click Exit in the upper right corner to dismiss the Web Note feature. Now just paste that screen clipping into your image editor of choice or OneNote.
There are numerous ways to take a screenshot in Windows, which one you choose depends on what you’re trying to achieve for that particular screenshot. One thing’s for sure we’re certainly not lacking for options.
6Use third party programs to take screenshot in windows
All of Windows’ built-in methods have their their own pros and cons. If you take a lot of screenshots and want more flexibility than the built-in tools offer, though, a third-party tool is your best option.
If you don’t mind spending a few dollars, Snagit by Techsmith is a top-notch tool that makes taking screenshots easy, has tons of features that let you target specific windows, take region snapshots, and even capture the full text of scrolling windows like web pages.
You can take short videos if you want, annotate screenshots, draw arrows and shapes, and pretty much anything you can imagine a screenshot tool should be able to do. It’s a great tool that we definitely recommend, especially if you need to take a lot of screenshots.
7Print Screen Software to click a screenshot
While Windows works great for basic screenshotting abilities, there are both free and paid third-party applications that you can install for more advanced features like fine tuning the screenshot by pixel, annotating it before you save it, and easy saving to a predefined location.
One example of a free print screen tool that’s more advanced than the Windows one is called PrtScr. WinSnap is very nice but it has a professional version with a fee, so the free edition lacks some of those more advanced features.
How to Paste or Save a Screenshot
The easiest way to save a screenshot is to first paste it in the Microsoft Paint application. This is simple to do in Paint because you don’t have to download it – it’s included with Windows by default.
You do have other options like to paste it in Microsoft Word, Photoshop, or any other program that supports images, but for the sake of simplicity, we’ll use Paint.
Paste the Screenshot
The quickest way to open Paint in all versions of Windows is through the Run dialog box. To do this, use the Win+R keyboard combination to open that box. From there, enter the mspaint command.
With Microsoft Paint open, and the screenshot still saved in the clipboard, just use Ctrl+V to paste it into Paint.
Or, find the Paste button to do the same thing.
Save the Screenshot
You can save the screenshot with Ctrl+S or File > Save as.
At this point, you may notice that the image you saved looks a bit off. If the image doesn’t take up the entire canvas in Paint, it will leave white space around it.
The only way to fix this in Paint is to drag the bottom right corner of the canvas toward the top left of the screen until you reach the corners of your screenshot. This will eliminate the white space and then you can save it like a normal image.
Take a screenshot in Windows XP
There are only two ways to take a screenshot in Windows XP. A tap of the Print Screen button will copy an image of your entire screen. This image must then be pasted (this can be done by pressing the Control and V keys at the same time) in a program like Paint, at which point you will also be able to save the image.
The other option is to capture a specific window. You can do this by pressing the Alt and Print Screen keys at the same time. You will, once again, have to open Paint, paste the image, and Save it.
On a majority of keyboards, the Print Screen key can be found in the upper-right corner. It will likely be labeled as either PrtScn or PrtSc.
Take a screenshot in Windows Vista and Windows 7
In addition to the two Print Screen methods detailed above, Windows Vista and Windows 7 users can also utilize the Snipping Tool. This feature is available on all versions of Windows, with the exception of Starter and Basic editions, and Windows XP.
To open the program, click the Start button, select All Programs, followed by Accessories, and select the Snipping tool from the list. The Snipping tool lets you take a screenshot of a specific area of the screen (similar to the OS X command with the Command, Shift, and number 4 keys). Open the program, click New, select the area of the screen you would like to capture, and then click Save.
Take a screenshot in Windows 8
Users with aor Windows 8 machine have the added ability to take screenshots that automatically save to a special folder. Pressing both the Windows and Print Screen key at the same time will capture the entire screen. This image will automatically be saved to a Screenshot folder inside of the Pictures library.
The Print Screen methods from Windows XP and the Snipping tool can also be utilized in Windows 10 and Windows 8. You can search for the Snipping Tool on the Start screen in Windows 8 or in the search field next to the Start button in Windows 10.
Take a screenshot on a Windows tablet or smartphone
Windows tablet owners can take a screenshot by pressing both the Windows button and Volume-down key at the same time. You will find the image in the Screenshots folder in the Pictures library.
On Windows Phone 8.1, this can be done by pressing the Power button and Volume-up key together, while Windows Phone 8 devices can take a screenshot by pressing the Start button and Power button at the same time. Screenshots are automatically saved in the Photos Hub section.