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How to take screenshots on your Windows PC

How to take screenshots on your Windows PC


Microsoft’s new tool lets you take screenshots and edit them as well

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A user types on the Dell XPS 17.
Photo by Monica Chin / The Verge

Screenshots can be really handy. You can use them to show your grandparent how to use a new app. You can use them to send a shot of that strange error message to your company’s IT department. You can use them to capture tweets before they disappear down the deletion black hole. So in case you need to capture a screenshot or two, here’s a quick and simple guide to taking screenshots on your PC.

Windows 10’s current screenshot tool is called Snip & Sketch; it is replacing the previous app Snipping Tool. (For some reason, Microsoft decided at one point to call screenshots “snips.”) There are a couple of ways to access Snip & Sketch.

First, you can type “snip” into the Cortana search box; when “Snip & Sketch” comes up, click on it. You’ll now be looking at the app’s main window, which has a variety of icons across the top. The blue button on the top left lets you either immediately take a screenshot or set a delay for 3 or 10 seconds. Click on it to get to the app’s small command bar, which will appear at the top of your screen.

The second (and faster) way is to simply press the Windows logo key + Shift + S, which will immediately bring you to that same command bar.

Snip & Sketch command bar
The buttons on the command bar let you decide the kind of screenshot you want.

From left to right, the buttons on the command bar let you mark out a rectangular area for your screenshot, a freeform area, a specific window, or a fullscreen shot. As soon as you’ve either marked out the area to snip or clicked on the button for a window or fullscreen snip, the screenshot will be taken. It will be automatically saved as a PNG file and placed in your Pictures / Screenshots folder.

A thumbnail of the snip will appear in the lower-right corner for a couple of seconds; you can click on it to bring it into the full Snip & Sketch app for editing, such as adding lines and text or cropping. (If it disappears before you have a chance to click on it, just do the search for the Snip & Skitch app.) The app also lets you share the image or save it as a PNG, JPG, or GIF file.

Snip & Sketch lets you edit your screenshot.
Snip & Sketch lets you edit your screenshot.

You can modify some of the settings for Snip & Sketch — such as whether the app should ask before saving — if you go into the app, click on the three dots in the upper-right corner of the app, and select “Settings.”

If you’re in a real hurry, you can take a whole-screen screenshot by just pressing the Windows logo key simultaneously with the PrtScrn (or PrtSc) key. The image will be saved in the Pictures / Screenshots folder as a PNG file.

You can also make the PrtSc key bring up Snip & Sketch when you press it.

  • Go to your computer’s settings by clicking on the Start button in the lower-left corner and then on the gear icon that appears above it
  • In the search box just below the “Windows Settings” page name, type “prtscrn.” Somewhere around the “t,” the drop-down menu will include “Use the Print Screen key to launch screen snipping.” Click on it.
  • You’ll find yourself on the “Keyboard” page. Look for “Print Screen shortcut” and toggle it on.