How to take screenshots with the Snipping Tool in Windows

All of us have done our fair share of working with images. Windows 10, Windows 7, and Windows 8.1 offer an easy to use tool for taking more complex screenshots, called the Snipping Tool. In this tutorial we will show you how to take screenshots with it, how to save, edit or email a screenshot, how to use the available markup tools and how to change the settings of the Snipping Tool. Let's get started:

What is the Snipping Tool?

The Snipping Tool is a Windows app that lets you create and edit screenshots. It's developed by Microsoft and it's available in all modern Windows operating systems, including Windows 10, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.

Before we go ahead and show you where to find and how to use Snipping Tool, here are a few other guides we wrote about taking screenshots in Windows, which you might find interesting:

Where to find the Snipping Tool in Windows 10

There are many different ways to open the Snipping Tool in Windows 10. Maybe the fastest way to launch it is to use search. In Cortana's search field from your taskbar, start typing Snipping Tool and then click or tap on the appropriate search result.

If you prefer the old ways of doing business, open the Start Menu and the navigate to All apps -> Windows Accessories. Inside this folder, you'll find a shortcut to Snipping Tool.

An alternative way to launch Snipping Tool is to use the Run window. Press the Windows + R keys to quickly open Run, write snippingtool in the Open field and the click/tap the OK button or press the Enter key.

Finally, a truly cumbersome way to launch Snipping Tool is to use File Explorer. Use it to navigate to "C:\Windows\System32" and then double-click or tap on the executable file called SnippingTool.exe.

Regardless of the way you choose to open Snipping Tool in Windows 10, this is what it looks like:

As you'll see next, the Snipping Tool from Windows 10 has a slightly different user interface than in Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. In Windows 10, the Snipping Tool has a Mode and a Delay button that aren't found in the Snipping Tool from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. Other than that, the Snipping Tool from Windows 10 is the same as the one in Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. We'll talk about these two small differences along the way.

Where to find the Snipping Tool in Windows 7

Just like Windows 10, Windows 7 also offers numerous ways to get to the Snipping Tool. One of them is to type the word "snip" in the Start Menu search box and then click on the Snipping Tool shortcut.

A second way is to go to the Start Menu, choose Accessories and then click on Snipping Tool.

You can also launch Snipping Tool by using the Run window. Open Run (simultaneously press the Windows + R keys), type snippingtool in the Open field and then click on OK.

Alternatively, you can run the executable called SnippingTool.exe found in the "C:\Windows\System32" folder.

This is what the Snipping Tool looks like in Windows 7:

Where to find the Snipping Tool in Windows 8.1

In Windows 8.1 move the cursor or your finger (if you are using a touch display) to the bottom left of the Start screen. An arrow pointing downwards is displayed. Click or tap on it, to open the Apps view. Then go to Windows Accessories and you will find the Snipping Tool shortcut.

You can also type the word snip on the Start screen and then click or tap on the Snipping Tool search result.

You can also use the Run window, which you can launch by pressing the Windows + R keys on your keyboard. In the Open field of Run, enter the command snippingtool and press Enter or OK.

The window of the Snipping Tool application looks similar to the screenshot below.

NOTE: As you can see, the Snipping Tool from Windows 8.1 looks almost the same as the Windows 7 version and it's very similar to the one in Windows 10. To keep things simple, for the remainder of this tutorial we will be using screenshots taken for the Windows 10 version of Snipping Tool.

Understanding Snipping Tool's user interface

If you're using Windows 10, the Snipping Tool window has five important buttons: New, Mode, Delay, Cancel and Options.

If you're using Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, the Snipping Tool lacks the Mode and the Delay buttons.

Here's what each of the main buttons does:

  • The New button allows you to take a screenshot. If you're using Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, before you actually take the screenshot, New also lets you select the type of screenshot that you want to take.
  • The Mode button is available only in Windows 10's Snipping Tool and its role is to let you choose what type of screenshot you'll take. Essentially, the New and Mode buttons from Windows 10 do the same things as the New from Windows 7 and 8.1 did. It's just that this feature is now split between two buttons instead of only one.
  • The Delay button is also present only in Windows 10. Its role is to delay the screenshot capture for 1,2,3,4 or 5 seconds, depending on what you choose.
  • The Cancel button allows you to cancel the current action.
  • The Options button allows you to customize different aspects of the application.

Now let's see how to use the Snipping Tool to do what it's supposed to do: take screenshots.

How to take a custom screenshot with the Snipping Tool

There are four types of screen captures available when using the Snipping Tool. If you're using Windows 10, you can choose which one you want to use by clicking or tapping on the Mode button. If you're using Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, you can select the one you want after you click/tap on New.

Here are your options:

  • The Free-form Snip enables you to draw an irregular line around an object or area.
  • The Rectangular Snip allows you to take a screenshot shaped as a rectangle, by dragging the cursor around an object.
  • Window Snip allows you to select a window (e.g. your internet browser) or dialogue box (e.g. error message received from an application) and capture it.
  • Full-screen Snip enables you to capture the entire screen, like the old-fashioned Print Screen key.

To share an example, let's see how to capture a part of your Desktop using Free-form Snip. In Windows 10, click or tap on Mode and then select Free-form Snip. Then click or tap on the New button.

If you use Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, click/tap on New and select the Free-form Snip from the drop-down menu.

Select the area that interests you by clicking and dragging your cursor or your finger, if you have a touchscreen. As you drag, the selected area is surrounded by a red border, if you are using the default settings.

When you release the mouse button, the captured area is automatically copied to the mark-up window, where you can annotate, save or share the screenshot.

How to edit a screenshot in the Snipping Tool

This editing window offers useful tools for editing the capture you took. For example, if you are not satisfied with the quality of the picture you can always make a new one using New Snip button.

Before saving your screenshot, you can use the Pen and Highlighter tools to add markup to the capture. The Eraser tool removes the marks made with the Pen and the Highlighter.

To save the screenshot, press the Save Snip button, select the location where you want it stored, type the file's name and choose the file type: PNG, GIF, JPEG or HTML. The, press Save.

You may email a screenshot, by using the Send Snip button on the toolbar. It gives you two options: E-mail Recipient and E-mail Recipient (as attachment). To use this button successfully, you need to have an email client installed on your computer. A strange thing we noticed is that the Snipping Tool doesn't work with modern apps from the Windows Store. It is capable of sending your screenshots via email only if you are using desktop email clients like Outlook or Thunderbird, which is rather strange.

How to customize the Snipping Tool

When you start the Snipping Tool, you can click or tap the Options button to set your preferences on how the program should work.

An Options entry is also found in the Tools menu, when editing the screenshots you take.

The available options are in two sections: Application and Selections groups. The Application section has a set of checkboxes that allow you to make the following changes:

  • Hide Instruction Text - hide the instruction text in the main Snipping Tool window.
  • Always copy snips to the Clipboard - copy all captures to the Windows clipboard so you can paste them into other applications (e.g. Word processors or image editors).
  • Include URL below snips (HTML only) - save your snips as a Single File HTML or MHT documents. If a snip is taken from an Internet Explorer window, it also shows the URL of the webpage included in the screenshot. Unfortunately, it doesn't work for any other web browsers, not even for Microsoft's own Edge browser.
  • Prompt to save snips before exiting - gives you a heads up if you have any captures that you have not saved, prior to closing the program.
  • Show screen overlay when Snipping Tool - if disabled, when you are taking a screenshot, the Snipping Tool transparent overlay is no longer shown on the screen.

The second section, named Selection, allows you to make a few settings regarding the color palette :

  • Ink Color - changes the color of the selection border when you create a snip.
  • Show selection ink after snips are captured - when enabled, the selection border is shown around the snip, using the color selected in the "Ink Color" list.


Now that you know how to use the Snipping Tool, the coast is clear for you to take great looking screenshots. Try it out and see how well it works. If you have any questions or tips to share, feel free to leave a comment.