How to take a Screenshot

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By Deepak Agarwal

updated 5 months ago

All of us have taken a screenshot of something or the other at some point in time. You can take a screenshot on different devices using different methods. Before we get into the intricacies of the process, let us understand the meaning of the term screenshot. In this, we will cover -

What is a Screenshot
Purpose of a Screenshot
Windows
Mac
iPhone/iPad
Android
Conclusion

What is A Screenshot?

A screenshot also referred to as a screen capture or a snapshot, is an image of the currently displayed content on your device's screen. The captured screenshot is saved or stored in your respective device in the form of an image. You can add the image to your document or save it for any further use.

Screenshots capture an exact image of your screen that can be shared with other users. Although it may seem like a simple image, a screenshot can prove to be extremely useful while capturing and sharing vital information. 

They function as an archive of your past and keep a detailed record of everything displayed on your screen. Screenshots or screen images can also serve as evidence for future reference and use in some instances. 

Purpose of a Screenshot

Screenshot help is getting work done easily and in less time. These images can help you explain a situation or case that is difficult to express in words. Screen captures give a first-hand view and can work as a primary source of information.

Screenshots are used by everyone. Starting from a school student working on his or her subject assignment to a product developer trying to explain the functioning of the application to another user, screenshots are an extremely handy tool.

Let us take a look at the various purposes served by a simple screenshot image.

  • Screenshots allow you to collaborate with others – Consider a scenario where a colleague of yours is trying to add a new webpage to your company’s website. They might want you to take a look at an advertising brochure or pamphlet they have designed.
    Under normal circumstances, they would have to resort to lengthy emails to explain everything to you and get your feedback. However, using a simple screenshot, they can share their design with you with the click of a single button. This will save both time and energy.
  • Screenshots help demonstrate the process of performing a function – Have you ever come across the troubleshooting documents of different softwares and applications? You might have noticed that they explain the process to rectify a problem using multiple screenshots.
    Each screenshot describes a particular step of the process in a simplified and direct manner. Screenshots allow you to demonstrate the exact process of performing a particular task on screen. They reduce the chances of any form of miscommunication and help in the relay of the correct information from one user to another.
  • Screenshots show what’s happening – Screenshots help convey a message and show exactly what’s happening to a third party. The same task visible on your screen may appear completely differently to another user on a different system. This makes it extremely difficult to convey what’s happening. However, with the help of screenshots, you can capture an image of the screen and forward the same to the concerned person.
  • Screenshots help capture the moment – As the description already suggests, screenshots help capture the moment on the screen with the click of a single button.


Windows

Using PrtSc

The PrtSc key is one of the simplest and most straightforward methods of taking a screenshot. Whether you are viewing a particular webpage or working on any file or folder, you can capture a screenshot of your current screen using the PrtSc key. It will help you archive the content of the screen for perpetuity in the form of an image.

Every keyboard that you have used to date must have had the PrtSc key. All you have to do is press the key along with different key combinations according to your requirements. You don’t have to download additional tools and applications for taking a simple screenshot. The only thing you will need is the PrtSc key.

The PrtSc key is regarded as the fastest way to take a screenshot in Windows. Although Windows offers a variety of options to take a screenshot, this is the simplest one. Short for Print Screen, PrtSc has proved to be a handy tool.

This key is usually located in the top row. It is found among or near the Function keys that have been labelled F10, F11, F12, etc. Different keyboards offer different settings. In certain cases, you might need to trigger or activate the PrtSc key using the Function Key. All you have to do is hold the Function Key and then press the PrtSc key.

Although the primary job of the PrtSc key is to copy the contents of the screen, you can use several modifications to change the way the key works. Here, we have given a list of the possible key combinations you can use for the process.

  • Press PrtSc – This is the simplest variant. However, this will only copy the screen. In order to be able to get the screenshot in a usable format, you have to paste the same on any program that can display images such as Microsoft Word or Paint in Windows.
  • Press Alt + Press PrtSc – This is the second variant of the list. Pressing Alt along with the PrtSc key copies the window currently displayed to the clipboard. You can paste or transfer this copied image to any program according to your requirements.
  • Press Windows Key + Shift + S – Although a lengthy combination, this is also extremely useful. Unlike the others, it allows you to capture a portion of the screen in your screenshot. The light of the screen will become less bright and the shape of the cursor will change. Using the same, you can drag and select a portion of the screen for your screenshot.
    Following this, the copied part will be sent to the clipboard. You can paste it on any other program. Keep in mind that this combination only works if you have the Windows 10 Creators Update installed. Also, take note that, in this case, the PrtSc is not used at all.
  • Press Windows Key + PrtSc – This variant simplifies and reduces the work that you have to do. It automatically saves the screenshot as an image file. This image file has been stored in the Screenshots subfolder of the Pictures folder. You do not have to separately paste the screenshot anywhere to save it.

This is a list of the variants of PrtSc and the steps to be followed to take a screenshot in Windows easily.


Using Snip & Sketch

Snip & Sketch is a screenshot tool offered by Windows as another way to take screenshots with minimum effort. It is a fairly new and recent tool released by Windows as a part of the Windows 10 update.

Snip & Sketch allows users to take detailed screenshots of the content on the screen. Created to make screenshotting as efficient and simple as possible, this tool has become a user favourite in no time. It is a more advanced version of the screenshot tool available in Windows prior to its release.

Snip & Sketch works as a separate application and, as a result, appears on the taskbar when you are using it. It will also be displayed in the task switcher (Alt + Tab).

How can you take a screenshot using the Snip & Sketch tool? Search for the tool and open the same. This tool offers the option of taking a screenshot at different time intervals. You can choose between:

  • Taking a Snip immediately
  • Taking a Snip in 3 seconds
  • Taking a Snip in 10 seconds

Once you have opened the Snip & Sketch tool and clicked on ‘New’, you can start taking Snips. There are four different variants you can choose from as given below:

  • Rectangular Snip – This allows you to take a screenshot of any portion of the screen according to your requirements. The shape of the screenshot, however, is predefined.
  • Freeform Snip – Unlike the previous option, the user can define the shape of the screenshot here. You can carve out the portion of the screen you want a screenshot of using the cursor pointer.
  • Windows Snip – This will take a screenshot of the Windows in display.
  • Fullscreen Snip – This option takes a screenshot of the entire screen automatically.

Using any of the four options stated above, you can take a screenshot. Unlike the PrtSc option, Snip & Sketch offers a number of additional features after the screenshot has been taken.

Once the screenshot has been taken, the markup window of Snip & Sketch opens. This Window allows users to annotate and edit their screenshot using several different editing options. You can use a pen, pencil, or a highlighter to highlight, mark, or emphasize on a particular portion of the screenshot. You can even change the colour of the pen and the highlighter as per you need. Using the simple eraser, you can remove any edit that you are not satisfied with. 

The Snip & Sketch tool also offers the option to crop the screenshot to remove any part of the image that you don’t require. You can also use the ruler and protractor tool to ensure that all your edits and annotations are added at the right place in the screenshot.

You can use this tool to edit an existing image on your computer too. Once you have finished editing the screenshot image, Snip & Sketch again offers a number of options. You can choose to save the image anywhere on your computer. In addition, you can copy the image and paste it on a different program. You can also directly share the screenshot image with a contact or turn on nearby sharing to do the same.


Using Snipping Tool

Windows also offers a Snipping tool that will allow you to take screenshots with the click of a single button. Snipping tools were more popular before the introduction of Snip & Sketch. The latter has started replacing the Snipping tool with time.

However, it continues to remain a viable option for taking screenshots in Windows. The options available for taking a snip or screenshot are very similar to the ones offered in the latest Snip & Sketch.

You can take a screenshot immediately or with a delay of 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 seconds. Under Mode, you can select from the same following four options:

  • Freeform Snip
  • Rectangular Snip
  • Windows Snip
  • Fullscreen Snip

The features offered by each option are the same as above. 

Once you have captured your snip, you can choose to edit it according to your requirements. The Snipping tool also offers a pen and a highlighter for editing along with an eraser. You can save the snip, copy the snip, or share and send the snip as an email attachment.

The Snipping Tool is available on Windows 7, Windows 8.1, Windows 10, and Windows Vista.

While taking the screenshot of a browser and saving it in the form of a HTML file, the URL will appear below the snip. However, you can remove the URL using the Snipping tool options. You can also edit the screenshot taken in Paint 3D by clicking on the Paint 3D shortcut present in the Snipping tool window.  


Using Game Bar

Looking for more alternatives to take screenshots in Windows? Well, the list is not over. In Windows, you can take a screenshot using the Game Bar.

This option allows you to take screenshots and record video. All you have to do is follow a few simple steps.

  • Step 1 – Firstly, you have to start a game. You can pick any game from the Start menu or from the Xbox Console Companion Program.
  • Step 2 – Start playing the game. Then, press the Windows key and G together. This will bring forth the Game Bar overlay. This is where the option to take screenshots is present.
  • Step 3 – You can click on the camera icon option to take a screenshot. Alternatively, you can also press Windows key + Alt + PrtSc together.

The screenshot will automatically be saved in the Captures subfolder of the Videos folder.

The process is extremely simple and comes in handy on several occasions.


Using Third-Party Apps

The options explained above are a part of Windows itself. You don’t have to add additional applications to use them. However, there are many third-party applications too that can be used for taking a screenshot. 

What are third-party apps?

Unlike other applications, they are not a part of Windows by default. Third-party applications are those applications that have been developed by a third party that isn’t a developer of the device the application runs on. A third-party application can offer several different features that may not be present in the in-built application. 

While taking screenshots, you can choose among the wide range of available third-party applications. You have to ensure that the application you choose is compatible with your device. Here, we have given you a brief overview of three such third-party applications that can be used to take a screenshot.

  1. Snagit
    Snagit is a screen capturing and recording software that is also widely used to take high quality screenshots. You can avail the free trial offered by Snagit to get an idea about the features of the application.
    It offers different plans starting from Individual, Business, to Education. You can choose the plan that meets all your requirements. This third-party application is compatible with both Windows and Mac.
    You can capture your entire screen, a part of it, a particular window, or a scrolling screen. The Scrolling Screen capture feature is especially useful when the entire content does not fit in one Windows screen. You can also use the Grab Text feature to extract the text from the snapshot and paste it in a different document.

  2. Lightshot
    Lightshot is another screen capture tool available for Windows users. You can take a screenshot of any area of your screen with the click of a button.
    The easy-to-use and interactive interface simplifies the work of a user and allows him or her to take screenshots with minimum hassle. You can also edit the screenshot taken using the attached editor.
    Using Lightshot, you can do a direct image search, that is, you can choose an image on your screen and find similar images on the Web using the application itself. It also allows you to share your screenshots with other users. You can download Lightshot for free.

  3. Greenshot
    Greenshot is an easy-to-use screenshot capturing software. Compatible with Windows, this open-source software is available for free to users everywhere.
    You can capture screenshots of selected regions or the entire screen and edit and remove parts of the captured screenshot according to your requirement. It allows you to save, print, copy the screenshot, and share it via email with others. You can also directly upload the screenshot to Flickr or Picasa for further use.
    Greenshot can even be used by developers, technical writers, project managers, etc.


Mac

There are various ways to take a screenshot on a Mac. The method used depends on the extent of the screen that you want to capture in the screenshot.

Partial Screenshot

Suppose you want to capture a specific portion of your screen, press Ctrl + Shift + 4. This operation will transform your cursor into a crosshairs reticle. You can now drag and select the required part of the screen. Your screenshot will be saved as a file along with the date and time. 

Whole Screen

For capturing the entire screen, you have to press Ctrl + Shift + 3. The entire screen will be captured instantly and will be saved as a file on your device. 

Active Window Only 

There are instances when you may need to capture the active window only. You can do the same by pressing Ctrl + Shift + 4, followed by pressing Space. This will turn the cursor into a camera. You can select the window you want to capture and get the screenshot easily.


iPhone/ iPad

Taking a screenshot on your iPhone or iPad is extremely simple. All you have to do is press the Home and Sleep button simultaneously. Your screen will display a flash animation for a brief second. Ensure that you press the two buttons at the same time.

Your screenshot will be saved in your device’s Photos app.


Android

There are a couple of different ways to take a screenshot on an android device. You have to try a few methods to see which one works for your device.

In certain devices, you can take a screenshot by simultaneously pressing the Volume button and Power button. On other devices, you can take a screenshot by pressing the Power button and Home button together.

If you have pressed the required buttons, you will see a brief animation on the screen along with a notification confirming that the screenshot was taken. Your screenshots are saved in the Gallery app.


Conclusion

Screenshots play an important role everywhere. Several in-built options in Windows will allow you to take a screenshot easily. You can also install third-party applications to do the same!

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