How to screenshot on Windows (9 ways)

Snip & Sketch

Do you use Windows, and you need to take a screenshot quickly? Do you have trouble with finding the Print Screen key, or it’s not working, so you’re looking for a new Print Screen shortcut? Do you want to know how to take a screenshot of the active window instead of the whole screen? Wouldn’t you like to learn how to take a screenshot on a PC while playing a game, to get proof of your achievements? On the internet, there are numerous Windows screenshot apps, both paid and free. Still, before looking for such third-party apps, make sure that you’re familiar with the whole range of screenshot options already available in Windows. Without further ado, here’s how to screenshot on Windows:

Quick Steps

How to screenshot on Windows using the keyboard:
  1. To take a screenshot on a PC, press the Print Screen button or Fn + Print Screen. Windows creates a screenshot of the whole screen and saves it to the clipboard.
  2. Press Win + Print Screen or Fn + Windows + Print Screen on your keyboard. Windows saves the resulting image in a folder called Screenshots.
  3. Press Alt + Print Screen or  Fn + Alt + Print Screen on your keyboard to capture the active window, and save it to the clipboard.

1. How to screenshot on Windows: Press the Print Screen key

The first method is also the most popular, as it’s been around for a very long time since the earliest versions of Windows. To take a screenshot on a PC, press the Print Screen button on your keyboard. Alternatively, you can also use the CTRL + Print Screen screenshot shortcut.

The Print Screen button on a computer keyboard

Windows creates a screenshot of the whole screen and saves it to the clipboard. Next, open an image editing program like Paint and paste the picture from the clipboard. You can now save it as a file and do basic editing.

Screenshot of the whole screen, pasted in Paint

Using the Print Screen key for taking screenshots works in both Windows 10 and Windows 7.

2. How to take a screenshot on Windows 10: Press the Win + Print Screen keys

Do you want to take a screenshot of the whole screen and automatically save it as an image on your PC? You can do that using a simple Print Screen shortcut without having to resort to any other tools. To take a fullscreen screenshot on Windows 10, simultaneously press Win + Print Screen on your keyboard.

Using Windows + Print Screen to take a screenshot on Windows 10

When you screenshot on Windows 10 using this method, the operating system saves the resulting image in a folder called Screenshots, found in your user’s Pictures folder. The usual path for your Windows 10 screenshots should look like this: C:\Users\Your User Name\Pictures\Screenshots. The files are named Screenshot (number).png, where the number varies based on how many screenshots you have previously taken. If you want to know more about the location of your screenshots, read: Where are screenshots saved? Change their location in Windows 10.

Screenshots are saved by Windows in your Pictures folder

In Windows 10, you can also see your screenshots using the Photos app by going to “Folders -> Pictures -> Screenshots.”

Screenshots viewed in the Photos app from Windows 10

Besides creating a screenshot file, Windows 10 also places a copy of the screenshot in the clipboard.

3. How to take a screenshot in Windows 7 or Windows 10: Press Alt + Print Screen to capture the active window

Whether you use Windows 10 or Windows 7, you can also take a screenshot of just the active window instead of your whole screen. Open the window that you want to capture and press the Alt + Print Screen keys on your keyboard. The operating system saves the screenshot in the clipboard. Open Paint or any other photo editing app and paste the image so that you can edit and save it to your Windows computer or device.

Screenshot of an active window in Paint

4. How to screenshot on a laptop or tablet (Dell, Surface, and others)

The previous methods should work perfectly well on desktop computers running Windows and on standard keyboards. However, some unique situations can occur. If you have a Dell laptop, for example, a tablet, or any PC with a keyboard that includes an Fn key, then the Print Screen key might do other things, too, besides taking screenshots. Therefore, when you press a screenshot shortcut that includes the Print Screen button, Windows might not capture your screen. So, instead, use one of the Print Screen shortcuts:

  • Fn + Print Screen - takes a screenshot of the whole screen and copies it to the clipboard. It is the equivalent of pressing the standard Print Screen key.
  • Fn + Windows + Print Screen - captures a screenshot of the whole screen and saves it as a file on the hard drive without using any other tools. Windows stores the screenshot in the Screenshots subfolder of your Pictures folder. It is the same as pressing Windows + Print Screen on a standard keyboard.
  • Fn + Alt + Print Screen - takes a screenshot of the active window. It is the equivalent of pressing Alt + Print Screen on a standard keyboard.

Keyboard shortcuts for screen capture on keyboards with the Fn key

On some keyboards, the Print Screen button might not perform two or more actions. However, it will not work until you press the Fn lock key. The Fn key works on such keyboards as a lock for the function and multimedia keys on the top, including the Print Screen key.

If you have such a keyboard, press the Fn key to unlock the top row of keys, and then use one of the screenshot shortcuts we described in this guide’s first chapters. They should work now.

Fn (Function) key on a keyboard

On some Microsoft Surface tablets, you need to use different screenshot shortcuts because some Type Cover models don’t include a Print Screen button. Instead, Microsoft offers the following Surface specific shortcuts for Windows 10:

  • Fn + Spacebar - this shortcut saves an image of your current screen to the clipboard so that you can paste it into any application. It is the equivalent of pressing the standard Print Screen key.
  • Fn + Alt + Spacebar - this shortcut saves a screenshot of the active window to the clipboard so that you can paste it into any application. It is the equivalent of pressing the Alt + Print Screen keyboard shortcut.

Keyboard shortcut for taking a screenshot on a Surface Type Cover (1)

5. How to take a screenshot on Windows 10 using the Windows + Shift + S keyboard shortcut

If you use Windows 10, simultaneously press Windows + Shift + S to capture a region of your screen and copy it to your clipboard. When you use this screenshot shortcut, Windows 10 dims your screen and shows a crosshair cursor. Press the left mouse button and drag the cursor to mark the area to capture. Then, release the mouse button. If you have a touchscreen, draw the area you want to screenshot using your finger (or pen).

Screenshot of a region in Windows 10

Windows 10 saves the screenshot in the clipboard. Open Paint, or any other photo editing app you prefer, to paste the screenshot, edit, and save it. This feature was originally part of OneNote, but later, Microsoft decided to integrate it directly to Windows 10, which is excellent.

6. How to take a screenshot on Windows 10 using the Snip & Sketch app

Starting with the October 2018 Update, Windows 10 includes Snip & Sketch, an app that you can use to take screenshots and modify (sketch) the ones you took. In a previous tutorial, we’ve already covered all the details on working with Snip & Sketch. In a few words, to screenshot on Windows 10, in Snip & Sketch, press the New button or use the Ctrl + N keyboard shortcut.

Start a screenshot in Snip & Sketch from Windows 10

Then, choose one of the four options to take a screenshot: rectangular, free-form, window, or fullscreen.

Screenshot options offered by Snip & Sketch in Windows 10

Once you’ve taken the screenshot, Snip & Sketch opens an editing window ready to process the screenshot further.

Editing a screenshot in Snip & Sketch on Windows 10

You can then change the screenshot as you want.

7. How to take a screenshot on a PC using the Snipping Tool

The Snipping Tool is a great desktop app for taking screenshots. It can create all kinds of screenshots, and you can also use it to do some light editing. Read this tutorial we published a while ago to learn everything about Snipping Tool and how to take screenshots with it in Windows 10 and Windows 7.

Taking a screenshot with Snipping Tool in Windows

NOTE: Microsoft scheduled the Snipping Tool for removal from Windows 10, as its purpose is now also fulfilled by the Snip & Sketch app.

8. How to take a screenshot on a Microsoft Surface tablet (or other tablets)

On some Windows 10 tablets, including certain models of Microsoft Surface, HP Envy, or Lenovo tablets, it can be hard to guess how to take a screenshot. If you use your tablet without a keyboard attached, then the Print Screen key is also unavailable. The best solution to screenshot on Windows 10, in this case, is to use the hardware buttons available on your tablet. You can take fullscreen screenshots on many types of Windows 10 tablets by pressing the Windows logo button and the Volume Down key simultaneously.

Take screenshots on a Windows tablet without a keyboard

When using this Print Screen shortcut, the screen gets darker for a moment, signaling that Windows took a screenshot. You can then find that screenshot in your Pictures folder, in the Screenshots subfolder.

9. How to screenshot on Windows 10 using Windows + Alt + Print Screen (Xbox Game Bar)

In Windows 10, you can also use the Xbox Game Bar for taking screenshots of the active window. Although it’s a feature designed for you to use while playing games, you can also benefit from it when you’re not playing. To capture the active window, which can be a game or not, press the Windows + Alt + Print Screen keys.

Taking a screenshot with Win + Alt + Print Screen in Windows 10

When you do that, Windows 10 automatically creates and saves a screenshot on your PC in the Captures subfolder found in your default Videos user folder. The screenshot’s file name includes the name of the game or app in which you took it, its date, and time.

Screenshots taken with Xbox Game Bar have unique names

NOTE: Instead of using the Windows + Alt + Print Screen shortcut, you can also bring up the Xbox Game Bar by pressing Windows + G, and then click or tap the “Take screenshot” button highlighted below.

The Take screenshot button from Windows 10's Xbox Game Bar

What’s your favorite method of taking screenshots in Windows?

As you can see, there are many ways to shoot a screenshot in Windows. Unless you have complex needs, you can use the built-in tools and features without installing third-party apps for grabbing captures of your screen or apps. Before closing this tutorial, tell us: How do you screenshot on Windows?

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