If you’ve been a Windows PC user for any length of time, chances are you’ve had to take a screenshot. The simplest (and one of the oldest) methods is to hit the Screen (PrtScn) button next to the F12 key, open your preferred photo editor, and paste the screenshot in using Ctrl-V. But it’s not the only method, and not even the most useful, depending on what you’re trying to accomplish.
Advanced Screen Features
First, you can use the Alt key to take a screenshot of the foreground application, even when multiple applications are open at the same time. The first image below shows my desktop with four different application windows open.
If I use Alt-PrtScn, I can capture just the image in the top right-hand corner.
Alternatively, you can use the PrtScn key and the Windows key together to take a screenshot of your active desktop and save that image to the Pictures\Screenshots directory, as shown below. If you choose this method, images will be automatically numbered as Screenshot(1).png, Screenshot(2).png, etc. Be advised that automatically saving images as PNG files can result in a very large screenshot folder if you don’t convert them to other file formats (depending, of course, on what you screenshot). Also, keep in mind that Microsoft doesn’t stop numbering your screenshots higher, even if you delete some of them. If Screenshot(13).png is your highest number, and you delete that file, the next screenshot created will be Screenshot(14).png, not Screenshot(13).png.
If you don’t have a dedicated PrtScn key on a tablet or laptop, you can typically use the function key (Fn) to activate these capabilities in the same way. In this case, the PrtScn key label will be written under another capability on the same key. So instead of hitting PrtScn, you hit Fn+PrtScn to take a screenshot, Fn+Alt+PrtScn to take a screenshot of one specific window, etc.
Those of you with Microsoft Surface Touch Covers or Type Covers have two alternate methods available. Fn+Spacebar will take a generic screenshot, while Fn+Alt+Spacebar takes a screenshot of a specific window. The Windows Logo + Volume Down button will take a Surface screenshot in tablet mode.
Use the Snipping Tool
Finally, you can use the Snipping Tool to take screenshots of any visible section of any image you have available. To launch it, simply type “Snipping” after hitting the Windows Key.
You can set a delay of up to five seconds and pick any section of any window (or groups of windows) you want to target. Once you do, a new window will option with various options and your snip located in the center.
Once snipped, you can apply a highlight to parts of the image, mark it up with a pen, or adjust various program options. Snip window sizes can also be adjusted to be free-form, square, rectangular, or full-screen depending on your needs.
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