How to Use the Windows Snipping Tool

This screenshot capture utility is quicker than other methods

Scissors with a roll of hemp cord.

 Susanne Jutzeler/Pixabay

For capturing screenshots, the Snipping Tool utility in Windows is a better option than Print Screen. Compared to Print Screen, it saves a few steps and offers more options than just capturing the screen or the active window.

The basic Snipping Tool is a small window with 5 buttons or commands:

  • New: Initiates the snipping command.
  • Mode: Sets which type of snip you want to perform.
  • Delay: Creates a delayed timer to capture images.
  • Cancel: Stops a capture after you start a capture.
  • Options: Additional settings for how you want the Snipping Tool to behave.

The instructions in this article apply to the Windows 10 operating system.

Activate the Snipping Tool

In Windows 10, the Snipping Tool can accessed quickest by pressing your Windows key, then start typing Snipping Tool. It should appear in the menu for you to select.

Snipping Tool icon in Windows 10 Start menu

The Snipping Tool window itself will be invisible in any screen captures you take with it.

Below is an overview of the application:

Snipping Tool - New Menu

Use the New command once you've set all your screen capture parameters such as Mode of capture and any Delay.

Snipping Tool New button

Snipping Tool - Mode Menu

Unlike Windows Print Screen, which captures either the entire screen or the active window, with the Snipping Tool you can also capture any portion of the screen or any open window, not just the active window.

The Mode option provides 4 different ways to capture a screen: Free-form, Rectangular, Window, and Full-screen snips.

Snipping Tool mode options

Free-form snip allows you to use a lasso tool to encircle the screen you want to capture.

A free form snip.

Rectangular snip allows you to capture a uniform rectangular selection (Including full screen if you choose.)

A rectangular snip.

Window snip captures the live windows that you select.

A windows snip.

Full-screen snip captures the entire screen, including the taskbar and desktop shortcuts.

A full screen snip.

Snipping Tool - Delay Menu

The Delay menu allows you to set a timer on your screen captures of 1 through 5 seconds (or No Delay if you want the capture instantly.) This allows you to select dropdown menus or other items that would otherwise not get captured immediately.

Snipping Tool delay menu

Snipping Tool - Options Menu

You can change the options for screen captures at any time. Options include:

  • Always copy snips to the clipboard.
  • Prompt to save snips before closing.
  • Show selection ink after snips are captured.

Showing the selection ink (choose red, blue, or another color) means that saved snips will have a border around them in the color of ink you choose in the Options menu.

Snipping Tool Options window

Here's how to use the Snipping Tool:

  1. Select Mode, then choose the shape you want to capture.

  2. Select Delay, and choose how much of a delay, if any that you want for your snip.

  3. Select any additional settings under Options.

  4. Select New.

    You should see that the screen becomes faded when it enters into capture mode.

  5. Select the area you want to create a snip from.

  6. Save the snip by either selecting the disk icon on the menu, or by selecting File > Save As.

    Save As options in Snipping Tool

Once you have a snip, you should notice some additional options appear on the toolbar. These options include: Copy, Email Recipient, Pen color, Highlighter, Erase, and Edit with Paint 3D.

Copy allows you to copy the snip to the Clipboard so that you can paste it into other applications or documents.

Copy button in Snipping Tool

Email Recipient allows you to send the snip as an email or an email attachment.

Email options in Snipping Tool

Pen color allows you to change the color of ink for any markups you want to make to the snip.

Pen color options in Snipping Tool

Highlighter allows you to highlight any portion of your snip.

Highlighter button in Snipping Tool

Erase allows you to erase any or all of your snip.

Eraser icon in Snipping Tool

Edit with Paint 3D will open up this application so that you can do more refined edits to your snip.

Edit with Paint 3D