How to Use the Windows Snipping Tool

This Windows screenshot capture utility is quicker than other methods

Scissors with a roll of hemp cord.

 Susanne Jutzeler/Pixabay

When you want to take a picture of your computer screen, you have choices. To capture a quick and simple screenshot of the whole screen, press the Print Screen key. If you want to capture parts of the screen and make changes to the screenshot, use the Snipping Tool utility in Windows.

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

Activate the Snipping Tool

To open the Snipping Tool in Windows 10, press the Windows key, then enter Snipping Tool. When the Snipping Tool appears in the menu, select it.

Snipping Tool icon in Windows 10 Start menu

The Snipping Tool window is invisible in any screen captures you take.

Explore the Snipping Tool

The Snipping Tool opens in a small window with a toolbar that contains five commands:

  • New: Initiates the snipping command.
  • Mode: Sets which type of snip to perform.
  • Delay: Creates a delayed timer to capture images.
  • Cancel: Stops a capture.
  • Options: Contains additional settings for how the Snipping Tool behaves.

Here's what you'll find in of each of these menus.

Take a Screenshot from the New Menu

After you set up the screen you want to capture and set screen capture parameters such as the mode of capture and any delay, select New to take the screenshot.

Snipping Tool New button

Choose the Parts of the Screen to Capture from the Mode Menu

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

Snipping Tool mode options

The Mode menu provides 4 different ways to capture a screen: Free-form, rectangular, window, and full-screen snips.

  1. Select Free-form snip to use a lasso tool to encircle the part of the screen to capture.

    A free form snip.
  2. Select Rectangular snip to capture a uniform rectangular selection. This may be a portion of the screen or the full screen.

    A rectangular snip.
  3. Select Window snip to capture the live windows.

    A windows snip.
  4. Select Full-screen snip to capture the entire screen, including the taskbar and desktop shortcuts.

    A full screen snip.

Set a Timer with the Delay Menu

When you need time to select dropdown menus or other items that would otherwise not get captured immediately, go to the Delay menu.

Snipping Tool delay menu

Use the options in the Delay menu to set the amount of time the Snipping Tool waits before it takes the screenshot. Choose a delay between 1 and 5 seconds. Or, select No Delay to capture the screen immediately.

Automatically Save Screenshots and More with the Options Menu

The Snipping Tool has several options that can be applied to every screenshot you capture. The screen capture options can be changed at any time. To go Options to:

  • Always copy snips to the clipboard.
  • Prompt to save snips before closing.
  • Show selection ink after a snip is captured.
Snipping Tool Options window

To add a border around the screen capture, select the Show the selection ink after snips are captured check box, then select the Ink color dropdown arrow and choose a color.

Use the Snipping Tool

Before you take a screenshot, open any windows that you want to capture, then use the Snipping Tool.

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

  2. Go to Delay, then choose how much of a delay, if any that you want for your snip.

  3. Go to Options, then select any additional settings.

  4. Select New.

    The screen fades when the Snipping Tool is in capture mode.

  5. Select the area you want to include in the snip.

  6. To save the snip, either select the disk icon on the menu or select File > Save As.

    Save As options in Snipping Tool

Edit and Share Screen Clippings

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

  1. Select Copy to copy the snip to the Clipboard, then paste the screenshot into applications or documents.

    Copy button in Snipping Tool
  2. Select Email Recipient to send the snip as an email or an email attachment.

    Email options in Snipping Tool
  3. Select Pen color to change the ink color used to make markups on the snip.

    Pen color options in Snipping Tool
  4. Select Highlighter to highlight any portion of the snip.

    Highlighter button in Snipping Tool
  5. Select Eraser to erase any or all of the snip.

    Eraser icon in Snipping Tool
  6. Select Edit with Paint 3D to open the Paint 3D application. Use Paint 3D to make more refined edits to the snip.

    Edit with Paint 3D