How to Take a Screenshot on a PC

Steps on How to Screenshot on Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista and XP

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Screenshots, also called screen captures, are just that -- they're pictures of whatever it is that you're looking at on your monitor. They can be pictures of a single program, the whole screen, or even multiple screens if you have a dual monitor setup.

The easy part is taking the screenshot, as you'll see below. However, where most people have trouble is when they're trying to save the screenshot, paste it into an email or another program, or crop out parts of the screenshot.

How to Take a Screenshot

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.

    Download a Print Screen Program

    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.