How to Take Screenshots in Windows 10, 8, and 7

Windows offers several built-in ways to capture screenshots

This article explains how to take screenshots in Windows 10, Windows 8.1, and Windows 7.

Screenshots in Windows 10

To snap a screenshot in Windows 10, press Win+Shift+S. This hotkey opens a small clipping menu at the top of the screen.

The screenshot options in Windows 10

You have four options for the type of area you want to capture:

  • Rectangular Snip
  • Freeform Snip
  • Window Snip
  • Fullscreen Snip

Select the kind of screenshot you want to capture. To use a Rectangular or Freeform Snip, click and drag the mouse to define the capture area. When you release the mouse button, the area saves to your clipboard.

If you select Window Snip, the active window that you select is saved to the clipboard.

If you select Fullscreen Snip, the entire desktop (including any additional attached monitors) is saved to the clipboard.

With any of the snips, you get a notification that the Snip saved to clipboard.

Windows notification of a snip in Windows 10


If you select the notification before it disappears, it opens your snip in Snip & Sketch, the new version of the Snipping Tool in Windows 10. Or, you can paste the copied screenshot into an image editor, email message, OneNote, or other application.

A screenshot is displayed in Snip & Sketch


Snip & Sketch (Windows 10)

Snip & Sketch adds cropping and annotation tools. If you take a screenshot with other techniques and have Snip & Sketch installed, Windows prompts you to access your screenshot in Snip & Sketch. The tool offers a timer set to a delay of 3 or 10 seconds.

The options in Snip & Sketch

Full-Screen Captures (Windows 10, 8, and 7)

No matter which Windows version you have, capture a screenshot of the entire desktop by pressing PrtScn, Print Screen, or, on some laptops, Fn+Prnt Scrn.

PrtScn copies a screenshot of the full screen to your system clipboard. From there, you can paste the image where you need it, such as into an email or an image editor such as Microsoft Paint or Gimp for Windows.

To paste the image, press Ctrl+V.

The screenshot captures all active monitors.

Alternate Full-Screen Capture (Windows 10 and 8)

The PrtScn method above works in all versions of Windows. Windows 10 and Windows 8, however, offer a trick that makes screen capturing a little faster.

Press Win+PrtScn (or Fn+Win+PrtScrn). Your display momentarily dims as if a camera shutter just snapped, indicating the screenshot. Instead of having to paste the image into another program, however, Windows saves the image to Pictures > Screenshots.

Windows File Explorer displaying the Screenshots folder


Single-Window Screenshots (Windows 10 and 8)

To take a screenshot of a single window, select the window's title bar (at the top). Press Alt+PrtScn. A screenshot of only the active window saves to your clipboard. You can then paste the image to another program or location, such as an email or Microsoft Paint.

Windows Snipping Tool (Windows 10, 8, and 7)

A built-in utility, Snipping Tool, gives you another way to make screenshots but with more control over the area captured. It's available in Windows versions starting with Vista, but it differs somewhat from version to version. Here's how to use it.

The Snipping Tool in Windows is being incorporated into a new tool called Snip & Sketch. Snip & Sketch lets you take screenshots like Snipping Tool, and also allows you to annotate and crop them. Both tools are still available in Windows 10.

  1. Select Start and type snipping into the Search box. Select Snipping Tool in the search results.

    Snipping Tool in Windows 10 search
  2. In Windows 10, select Mode in the Snipping Tool menu. This is where Snipping Tool in Windows 10 differs from earlier versions.

    The Mode menu in Windows 10's Snipping Tool

    In Windows 7 and 8, select the New drop-down menu.

    Windows Snipping Tool in Windows 8 and older


    Choose an option for the shape of the screenshot area:

    • Free-form Snip lets you draw the screenshot area freehand. Click and hold the left mouse button and move the mouse to draw the area you want to capture.
    • Rectangular Snip uses the familiar left-click-and-drag to create a rectangular area on the screen. Everything inside the rectangle is captured.
    • Window Snip captures an entire window. After activating a Window Snip, move the mouse to the window you want to capture. The window that will be captured is selected. Left-click the mouse to create the image.
    • Full-screen Snip captures an image of the entire desktop and opens it in Snipping Tool.
  3. Free-form or Rectangular Snip options: After you draw the area that you want to capture, release the mouse button. The image opens in Snipping Tool. It also goes to your clipboard.

    Getting a screenshot with the Snipping Tool


    Window Snip: Move the mouse pointer to the active window and click to capture the window image.

    If you use the Window Snip option and click a window behind the active window, a screenshot is taken of that window behind, plus any other windows in front of it.

    Full-screen Snip: As soon as you choose this selection, the Snipping Tool captures the full desktop image.

  4. If the screenshot is not as you expected, take another by selecting New in the menu.

  5. When you're satisfied with your screenshot, save it. Select File > Save As, press Ctrl+S, or select the floppy disk in the Snipping Tool.

Snipping Tool does not capture opened context menus or other pop-up menus. When you attempt to make a screenshot of these, as soon as the Snipping Tool is activated, those menus close.

Using Delay to Capture Pop-Up Menus (Windows 10)

Windows 10 offers a delay feature for making screenshots with Snipping Tool. The delay allows you to set up your desktop before the program freezes your screen.

  1. Click Delay and select the amount of time you'd like Snipping Tool to wait before capturing the image, up to five seconds.

    Delay options in Snipping Tool
  2. Select New and set up your screen the way you want it to appear before the timer runs out. For example, to capture an open context menu, open that menu before the timer runs out. When the delay ends, Snipping Tool captures the screenshot, including open menus.

The Snipping Tool doesn't have a live timer to show you how much time you have left. To be on the safe side, give yourself five seconds for each shot.

Other Methods for Screen Capture

OneNote used to have a screen-clipping function. Although it's no longer available, you may still use this method to take a screenshot on older versions.

Use the autosave screenshot feature on a Windows tablet by pressing Win+VolumeDown.

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