How to Take a Screenshot in Windows


Don't feel stupid

Sometimes we take for granted that what may be a simple task for one may not be known by everyone else.  I was reminded of this the other day when someone at the office asked how to take a screenshot of their web browser to insert into a document.

The method for taking a screenshot depends on what you’re trying to do.  Here we cover how to take a snap of your entire desktop, one window on your desktop, and screenshots of PC games.  There’s also some software that can make this easy or even automatic.

The process of taking a screenshot consists of copying the screen to your computer’s clipboard (a temporary storage area in memory), and then pasting it into another program.

Paste a screenshot of OCmodshop into MS Paint

To make a screenshot of your desktop:

  1. press the Print Screen key (PrtScr)
  2. Open up an image editor like Microsoft Paint
  3. Paste from the clipboard by selecting “Edit > Paste” or you can press Ctrl + V on your keyboard (Shift + Insert does the same thing).
  4. Save the file.

Note that if you use Photoshop then you need to create a new blank document before pasting.  Photoshop will automatically make the new image the size of whatever is on your clipboard.  If you use Microsoft Paint then you may need to trim white space out of the image.

Paste directly into Word

To make a screenshot of just one of your open windows:

  1. Make sure the window you want to take a capture of has focus (click on it with your mouse)
  2. Press Alt + PrtScr
  3. Open up an image editor or Word document
  4. Paste by selecting “Edit > Paste” or press Ctrl + V on your keyboard (or Shift + Insert)
  5. Save the file

If you get a screenshot of your entire desktop, then you didn’t hold down the Alt key.  Note that you can paste directly into a Word document without having to save the image and then import it into the document.

We cover the Snipping Tool next, which can eliminate having to use the keyboard for screen grabs…