Grabbing a Screen Shot

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 4, 2016)


There are several specialized utilities on the market that you can use to capture what you see on your screen. You may not need such a utility, however, as Windows allows you to easily capture a screen.

Here are the steps to capture your screen; they are different from the procedure in earlier versions of Windows:

  1. Set up your screen so that it reflects what you want to capture. (For instance, start whatever applications or open whatever windows you want visible.)
  2. Hold down the Win key (that's the one on your keyboard with the Windows logo on it) and press the PrtScn key. (On some keyboards it may be labeled "Print Screen.") Windows grabs the screen shot and stores it on your hard drive.
  3. Press Win+E. Windows displays an Explorer window.
  4. Using the tree at the left side of the window, open Libraries/Pictures/My Pictures.
  5. Double-click on the Screenshots folder. This folder is created automatically, if necessary, after you perform step 2. (See Figure 1.)
  6. Figure 1. The Screenshots folder.

The Screenshots folder contains all the screen shots you've captured, in chronological order. The files are saved in PNG format and the filenames are always "Screenshot" followed by an incremented number within parentheses. Thus, the files will be Screenshot (1), Screenshot (2), Screenshot (3), etc.

If you don't want the screen capture saved to a disk file immediately, you can use the PrtScn key without the Win key. Doing so copies the capture to the Clipboard, where you can paste it into a different program. For instance, you could paste it into a graphics program, modify the image in some way, and then save it to a disk file from within the program.

 This tip (11884) applies to Windows 8 and 10.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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What is two less than 5?

2016-07-11 16:24:35

Ted Duke

Thanks Alex. I have used Snagit for screen captures for a long time. I have installed its latest version but haven't used it a lot. I think it may have removed any use for the Print Screen button with its new interface, but if there's any conflict I now know where it may come from.

2016-07-10 20:06:36

Alex B

Hi Ted,

This would indicate your OneNote probably has a default location selected in the options below.
Try one of the other options.

To change your setting, under Options > Send to OneNote.
Last item on page under Other Content > Screen Clippings.
The options are:-
- Always ask where to send
(Clipboard or send to OneNote)
- To Clipboard Only
- Set default location

PS I am using office 2010, and not being a big OneNote user have left my setting on the always ask option.

2016-07-08 13:05:19

Ted Duke

Using Alex B's comment was interesting. It works as he described. However, it only allows One Note pages as places to save the screen capture.

2016-07-07 20:24:04

Alex B

HI Anne,

If you have MS One Note running in the background then <Win> + S will call up its screen snipping tool, which leaves dropdown menus active, so that you can capture them.

2016-07-06 09:03:25


Well, there was no folder called "screenshots" created in the "My Pictures" folder on my desktop. When I tried it again, though, I noticed a popup message in the corner of my screen that read that the screenshot was saved to OneDrive. I gave it a look, and there was the Screenshot folder (who knew) with several screenshots I had taken in the past.

I have and use the snipping tool. But it doesn't always capture everything - specifically, a dropdown menu in Excel or other application. But what I normally do is press PrntScn, paste in Paint or Word, then use the Snipping Tool to select the relevant portion of the image.

2016-07-05 07:53:04

Sheila McInnes

In Windows 7 Alt Prtsc captures only the active window view. Does this apply to Win8 or Win10?

2016-07-04 22:29:48

Alex B

If you normally want the screenshot to appear in one of the Microsoft Office products, Office has and inbuilt Screen Clipping Tool that lets you put it there in one step.

Its under Insert > Screenshot > Screen Clipping.
Better still add it to your quick access tool bar, so its one click away.

Works in Excel, Word, Outlook etc.

The only downside is if you want to mark it up ie highlight etc

2016-07-04 14:28:43

Henry Noble

A good tip about a somewhat-hidden option, but Windows' built-in Snipping Tool is much more versatile as to what is captured and the format of the output.

2016-07-04 09:43:06

Ted Duke

This apparently captures full screen only. Various apps, such as Snagit, have far more versatility.

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