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

There are shortcuts and tools galore to create screenshots

Snipping Tool in Windows 10

There are a lot of ways to make a screenshot, sometimes called a screen capture, in Windows. The methods depend on which version of Windows you have. Here's how to take a variety screenshots if you're running Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10.

The steps for taking screenshots on Windows XP and Vista can be slightly different from later Windows versions detailed in this article.

Quick Screenshots in Windows 10

You can quickly snap a screenshot in Windows 10 by pressing Windows key+Shift+S. This opens a small clipping menu at the top of the screen.

Windows 10 clipping tool buttons

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

  • Rectangular Clip
  • Freeform Clip
  • Fullscreen Clip

Click the kind of screenshot you want to capture. If you want to use a rectangular or freeform clip, click and drag the mouse to define the area you want to capture. When you release the mouse button, the area will be clipped and saved to your clipboard.

If you click Fullscreen Clip, the entire desktop (including any additional attached monitors) will be saved to the clipboard.

You can then paste the copied screenshot into an image editor, email message, OneNote, or other application.

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

No matter which Windows you run, you can take a screenshot of the entire desktop by pressing the PrtScn key.

Print Screen key on Logitech keyboard for Windows

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

To paste the image, click the location where you want to put it and press Ctrl+V. You can also use the mouse. In Gimp click Edit > Paste, and in Paint click the clipboard icon under the Home tab.

Keep in mind that if you are using multiple displays, the full screenshot will capture all working monitors for the image.

Alternate Full-screen Capture (Windows 8 and 10)

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

Tap the Windows key+PrtScn. Your display will momentarily dim as if a camera shutter just snapped, indicating that a screenshot has been taken. Instead of having to paste the image into another program, however, the image is saved to your Pictures > Screenshots folder.

Single Window Screenshots (Windows 8 and 10)

If you want to take a screenshot of a single window, first make it the active window by clicking its title bar (the top). Press Alt+PrtScn. A screenshot of just the active window will be saved to your clipboard. You cn then paste the image to another program or location, like an email message or the Microsoft Paint app.

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

Microsoft includes a built-in utility for Windows called Snipping Tool that gives you another way to make screenshots but with much more control over the area that is captured. It is available in Windows versions starting with Vista, but some versions differ from one another.

The Snipping Tool in Windows is being incorporated into a new tool called Snip & Sketch. Snip & Sketch lets you to take screenshots just like Snipping Tool, but also to annotate and crop images.

  1. Click the Start button and type "snipping" into the search box.

  2. Click Snipping Tool in the search results.

    Windows Snipping Tool
  3. This is where Snipping Tool in Windows 10 differs from earlier versions.

    WINDOWS 10: Click Mode in the Snipping Tool menu.

    Modes available in Snipping Tool

    WINDOWS 7 and 8: Click the New button down-arrow.

    Windows Snipping Tool in Windows 8 and older

    You have several options for the shape of the screenshot area you will be capturing. Select one for your screen capture:

    • 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 will be captured in the image.
    • Window Snip will capture an entire window. After activating a Window Snip, move the mouse to the window you want to capture. The window that will be captured will become selected. Left-click the mouse to create the image.
    • Full-screen Snip will capture an image of the entire desktop and opened in Snipping Tool.
  4. Free-form or Rectangular Snip options: After you have the area drawn that you want to capture in a screenshot, simply release the mouse button and the image will be snapped and opened in Snipping Tool. The image will also be copied to your clipboard as well.

    Rectangular Snip mode in 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 on a window behind the active window, a screenshot will be taken of that window behind, plus any other windows in front of it.

    Full-screen Snip: As soon as you click this selection, the Snipping Tool will instantly capture the full desktop image.

  5. If the screenshot is not as you expected, you can take another by clicking New in the menu.

  6. When you're satisfied with your screenshot, click File > Save As to save it. You can also save by pressing Ctrl+S or clicking the floppy disk icon in the Snipping Tool menu to save.

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 when making screenshots with Snipping Tool. The delay allows you set-up your desktop before the program freezes your screen. This is very helpful if you're trying to capture a pop-up menu that disappears the moment you press the New button in the Snipping Tool.

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

    Delay setting in Windows Snipping Tool
  2. Click New and set up your screen the way you want it to appear before the timer runs out. For example, if you're trying to capture an open context menu, open that menu before the timer runs out. When the delay ends, you can capture 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 it's best to give yourself five seconds for each shot.

Using OneNote Screen Clipping

OneNote used to have a screen clipping function you could use to take screenshots. The screen clipping function is not available in newer versions, however, but if you have an older version of OneNote, you may still use this method to make a screenshot.

The OneNote clip tool sits in the system tray of the taskbar. To find it, click the upward-facing arrow in the bottom right of your desktop. In the window that opens right-click the purple OneNote icon with a pair of scissors on it. Select Take screen clipping from the context menu. Similar to the Snipping Tool, your screen will then freeze and allow you to define the area of the screenshot.

OneNote Clipping tool on Windows

Once you've taken the shot, OneNote will pop-up a small context window asking you to choose whether to copy the new screenshot to your clipboard or paste the image directly into an existing or new notebook.

Web Shots Using Microsoft Edge Browser

Windows 10 users have a tool they can use for taking screenshots from the web in Microsoft Edge. This is called Edge's "Web Note" feature. This is a more limited screenshot capability, because it only allows captures from within the browser itself—no screenshots of the desktop or other programs.

  1. In the Microsoft Edge browser on the web page you want to clip, click Add notes (the icon looks like a pen drawing a line) in the upper right of the browser window.

    A toolbar will open at the top of the browser window, and the screen will freeze, including any video playing such as on YouTube.

    Microsoft Edge web clipping tool
  2. Click Clip in the new toolbar.

    Clip button in Microsoft Edge browser
  3. Drag a rectangle for the area you want to capture on the web page. When you release the mouse button, the clipped image will be copied to your clipboard.

  4. Click Exit in the upper right corner to close the web clipping toolbar. You can then paste the newly clipped image.

Screen Captures on Windows Tablet

You can also use the autosave screenshot feature on a Windows tablet by tapping the Windows button+volume down.