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I've been doing Windows screenshots wrong this whole time

I've been doing Windows screenshots wrong this whole time


Windows key + Print Screen was all I needed

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This is a new series called "Paul's doing it wrong and everyone is smarter than Paul and if he'd only just listened..." where I explain something dumb I've done in my life and people at work can't stop giving me shit about it.

Let me just explain to you how I take screenshots on Windows, and either you'll immediately realize how foolish I've been, or you're in the same boat in which case I guess you can grow alongside me.

So, first: find the Print Screen button. This isn't always easy, because some keyboards leave it on the function key row, and some keyboards require you to hit a function key modifier to use it. Anyway. Find it.

Then press it. Now the image is in your clipboard if you don't accidentally overwrite it before accomplishing the next step.

Good job Paul, you know all about computers

Open Microsoft Paint and paste. If you already have something open in Paint you'll want to open a new file because otherwise you'll overwrite the last thing you saved. This might sound like a trivial qualifier, but invariably I end up overwriting my last screenshot file and I have to undo and save again and it's a big mess.

Okay, now either save your new screenshot, or use Paint to crop it and then save it.

Congratulations, you have a screenshot! Good job Paul, you know all about computers.

Now, I've always obviously found this process annoying. On Mac I know all the sweet shortcuts to take a screenshot directly, or even take a screenshot of a single window or a selected area, and the file just shows up on my desktop ready to go. I guess I knew I could install some third-party utility or whatever on Windows, but I don't take screenshots constantly, so I've just suffered through this laborious process and chalked it up to "Just Windows Things"; a small cost to pay for the Windows-only privileges of Overwatch and VR.

Today in a meeting I was looking over the shoulder of Dan Seifert, our reviews editor, and saw him take a screenshot of one specific portion of the screen. How cool! "What app are you using for screenshots?" I asked him offhand.

"Oh, this is built into Windows."


It turns out he was using Windows Ink. Since Dan lives the stylus life on Windows 10 a lot, he actually can double-click his stylus eraser to capture his screen, and then Windows Ink has nice cropping and annotation tools built in. Slick!

But regular Windows 10 doesn't include Windows Ink, as I soon discovered. So, for once in my life, I Googled "Windows 10 screenshot" and clicked on the first link that came up: "6 Ways To Take Screenshots in Windows 8.1 & 10, Using Built-in Tools" from my new favorite tips-and-tricks site,

It turns out if you hold the Windows key while tapping Print Screen, it'll save a screenshot straight to your hard drive!

The first of six ways described my own method. But ways two through six blew my mind! It turns out if you hold the Windows key while tapping Print Screen, it'll save a screenshot straight to your hard drive! And if you hit Alt + Print Screen, it'll screenshot the active window! Oh, and you know what else? There's a built-in app called Snipping Tool with even more screenshot functionality, and it's been around since at least Windows 7!

I told my good news to Dan, but he was thoroughly unimpressed. He says he just uses Lightshot when he's not on a tablet, as our colleague Mark Linsangan recommends.

Whatever, I'm happy for me at least. I hate installing unnecessary software on Windows, it always ends up cluttering my task bar and doing something I didn't expect or can't observe. I installed Skype a month ago and I still can't get it to stop bothering me at boot. How can I expect an app from some third-party rando to be a better citizen?

Windows key + Print Screen is enough for me.