How to Take a Screenshot on a PC

How to screenshot or print a screen on Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP

What to Know

  • On Windows 10 and 8, Windows Key+PrtScn to capture entire screen. On Windows 7 and earlier, press PrtScn.
  • To capture only the active window, press Alt+PrtScn.
  • To capture specific parts of the screen, use the Windows Snipping Tool or Snip & Sketch.

This article explains how to take screenshots on a Windows PC. Instructions apply to Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP.

How to Take a Screenshot 

The basic way to take a screenshot in Windows is the same way no matter what version of Windows you're using, and it's very easy: ​press the PrtScn key on the keyboard.

  • PrtScn: Pressing the button once saves a screenshot of the entire screen. If you have multiple monitors connected, a single press of the print screen button will save a screenshot of all the screens in one single image.
  • Alt+PrtScn: Press 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).
Lifewire / Grace Kim

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. The quickest way to open Paint in all versions of Windows is through the Run dialog box.

  1. Press Win+R.

  2. Type mspaint into the Run field, and select Enter.

    Opening Microsoft Paint
  3. With Microsoft Paint open, and the screenshot still saved in the clipboard, use Ctrl+V to paste it into Paint, or select Paste.

    Screenshot of Paste button in Paint
  4. Press Ctrl+S, or select File > Save as to save the screenshot.

    "Save as" selection in Paint

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. To fix this, drag the bottom right corner of the canvas toward the top left of the screen until you reach the corners of your screenshot.

Take a Screenshot on PC With the Windows Snipping Tool

Another way to take screenshots is to use the Windows Snipping Tool.

  • In Windows 10, type snipping tool in the search box on the taskbar and select the Snipping Tool from the list of results.
  • In Windows 8, swipe in from the right edge of the screen, select Search, type snipping tool in the search box, and select Snipping Tool from the list of results.
  • In Windows 7, select the Start button, type snipping tool in the search box, and select the Snipping Tool from the list of results.
Screenshot of Snipping Tool

Download a Print Screen Program

Although Windows works great for basic screenshotting abilities, you can install both free and paid third-party applications 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 PrtScr. Another, WinSnap, is good, but the free edition lacks some of the more advanced features of the premium version.

  • How do I take a screenshot on a Mac?

    To take a screenshot on a Mac, press Command+Shift+3 to screenshot the entire screen. Press Command+Shift+4 to draw and select an area to screenshot. Press Command+Shift+5 for additional options, including screen recording.

  • How do I take a screenshot on Android?

    To take a screenshot on Android, use a voice command to tell Google Assistant to take a screenshot by saying, "OK Google, take a screenshot." Another option: Press and hold Power + Volume Down. Find your screenshot in the Photo Gallery or Screenshot folder.

  • How do I take a screenshot on iPhone?

    To take an iPhone screenshot on iPhones without a Home button, simultaneously press the Side and Volume Up buttons. The screenshot will save to the Photos app. On older models, press the Home button and the Sleep/Wake button simultaneously.

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