One of the most useful tools that Windows offers is the Snipping Tool. This app allows you to capture screenshots of any part of your screen and save them as images or copy them to the clipboard. You can also annotate your screenshots with pens, highlighters, and erasers. The Snipping Tool is available in Windows 10 and Windows 11, and you can start it in many different ways, including with the keyboard. In this article, I show you how to launch the Snipping Tool in Windows 10 and Windows 11 using various methods such as keyboard shortcuts, Search, commands, and more:
The fastest way to open Snipping Tool is with a keyboard shortcut:
When you press these keys simultaneously in Windows 11, the screen darkens, and you see five icons at the top of the screen, alongside the encouragement to “Draw a shape to create a screen snip.”
Here’s what each of these icons does, from left to right:
- Rectangular mode - the default option, captures screenshots using a rectangular shape you draw on the screen with the mouse or touch.
- Freeform mode - allows you to draw any shape you want, using the mouse or touch, and save it as a screenshot.
- Window mode - captures the entire window of a specific app you select with the mouse or touch.
- Fullscreen mode - saves the whole screen in a screenshot.
- Close Snipping Tool - closes the Snipping Tool without taking a screenshot.
Pressing Windows + Shift + S in Windows 10 displays a similar menu at the top of the screen, with the same options, doing the same things. However, this keyboard shortcut does NOT open the Snipping Tool. Instead, it opens a different app called Snip & Sketch, which is also used for taking screenshots. By default, in Windows 10, you can’t open the Snipping Tool using a shortcut key. However, there’s a workaround which I’m going to detail in the next section of this article.
When developing Windows 10, Microsoft decided to phase out the old Snipping Tool from 2002 and Windows Vista and created a modern app called Snip & Sketch. However, because users were accustomed to the Snipping Tool name and didn’t use the new app as much, in Windows 11, Microsoft decided to improve the Snip & Sketch app further but rebrand it back to Snipping Tool. As a result, in Windows 11, we have just one screenshot-taking app named Snipping Tool, based on the latest code-base from Microsoft, which represents an evolution of the Snip & Sketch from Windows 10. So, in Windows 10, we’re stuck with two screenshot-taking apps: the new Snip & Sketch and the old Snipping Tool.
If you’re a Windows 10 user, and you want to use a keyboard shortcut for opening the Snipping Tool, not the (newer) Snip & Sketch app, do this:
Open File Explorer and navigate to this path:
You can also use environment variables to navigate to this path, leading to the same folder:
Here you find shortcuts to several Windows apps, including the old Snipping Tool.
Right-click on the Snipping Tool shortcut, and choose Properties in the menu that opens.
You see the properties of the Snipping Tool shortcut in Windows 10. First, click or tap inside the Shortcut key field, then press the keys you want to use as a keyboard shortcut for this app. I chose Ctrl + Alt + S, but you can use any combination of keys. Then, to save your new keyboard shortcut, click or tap OK.
The next time you press your chosen keys, the Snipping Tool app opens in Windows 10, informing you that the app will move to a new home, as explained earlier in this article.
TIP: For more information on assigning any shortcut key to Windows apps, here’s how to run a Windows app or program with a keyboard shortcut.
In Windows 11, a fast way to open Snipping Tool is to click or tap inside the search box on the taskbar or press the Windows key. Then, type the word snipping, and when you see the Snipping Tool search result, press Enter on your keyboard or click or tap on the result. Notice that on the right side of the search result, you also have options for taking screenshots right away.
Similarly, in Windows 10, click or tap inside the search box, and type snipping. You should see the appropriate search result almost immediately. Click or tap on it to start the app, or press Enter on your keyboard.
IMPORTANT: Notice how the Snipping Tool has different icons in Windows 11 and Windows 10. That’s because it is a separate app with other features. The Windows 10 version dates from 2002, while the Windows 11 version dates from 2021 and has received updates and improvements. For more details, here’s how to use the Snipping Tool in Windows 11 for taking screenshots and editing them.
If you’re using Windows 10, click or tap the Windows icon on the taskbar, scroll down the list of apps to the letter W, and open the Windows Accessories folder. There you’ll find the Snipping Tool shortcut. Click or tap on it, and the app is launched.
Windows 11’s procedure is lengthier: open the Start Menu and click or tap on All apps.
Scroll down the list of apps until you see those that start with the letter S. Then, click or tap Snipping Tool.
TIP: Here’s a detailed guide on how to use the Windows 11 Start Menu, including how to jump to shortcuts that start with different letters.
Another method for opening Snipping Tool is to use the Run window. Launch Run (Win + R) and type snippingtool or snippingtool.exe in its Open field. Then, click/tap OK or press the Enter key on your keyboard.
In Windows 10, the Snipping Tool app has an executable file that is easy to run. Simply open File Explorer, and go to this path:
In Windows 11, the Snipping Tool is a Windows app that’s installed in a folder like:
For example, on my computer, this is the path to Snipping Tool:
On your computer, the Microsoft.ScreenSketch_ part of the folder path may have a different number or character string at the end.
Another issue is that you can’t open the WindowsApps folder from File Explorer. Windows 11 will tell you that you don’t currently have permission to access this folder.
You need to change the permissions for the WindowsApps folder, a complicated process you shouldn’t undergo just to get to the folder where Snipping Tool is installed and run its executable file.
If you’re using Snipping Tool regularly, pin its shortcut to the taskbar or your Start Menu. To do so, open the Start Menu, locate the Snipping Tool shortcut, and right-click or press and hold on it. Then, in the context menu, go to More > Pin to taskbar or Pin to Start, depending on where you want to pin the Snipping Tool.
The options available in Windows 10 are the same as the ones in Windows 11 when you right-click or press and hold the Snipping Tool shortcut.
You can always make a shortcut that opens Snipping Tool. An easy way to do this is by dragging and dropping the Snipping Tool shortcut from the Start Menu onto the desktop or in any other folder you prefer.
Another method is to create a Snipping Tool shortcut manually. Right-click or press-and-hold on the empty space on the desktop, and select New > Shortcut. Make sure to enter snippingtool.exe as the shortcut’s location and follow the instructions of the Create Shortcut wizard.
NOTE: If you need help creating shortcuts, read How to create shortcuts for files, folders, apps, and web pages in Windows.
This immediately opens Snipping Tool from CMD in Windows 11 and Windows 10.
You can also ask Cortana to open the Snipping Tool through voice or text commands. Open Cortana, and type or say “Open Snipping Tool.” She’ll open the app for you, so you can take screenshots with it.
However, for some strange reason, this works ONLY in Windows 10, not Windows 11. So if you try to do the same thing in Windows 11, you only get some information about the Snipping Tool, and Cortana doesn’t open the app for you.
As you know by now, the Snipping Tool is a handy and easy-to-use tool for capturing screenshots on Windows 10 and Windows 11. In Windows 11, you can even use it to record the screen. I hope this article has helped you learn how to open the Snipping Tool on your Windows computer or device. And if you have a favorite method, share it using the comment options below. For example, would you rather open Snipping Tool using a keyboard shortcut, Search, the command line, or some other way?