Ever wanted to take a screenshot of your computer screen but don’t know how? You don’t have be a computer expert to be able to take a screenshot on your laptop or desktop PC. A few taps on the keyboard will do the job quickly and efficiently – as long as you know the right techniques!
Let’s say that you’re at work and your boss tells you to send him a picture of your document. Instead of using your phone to take a photo of your computer screen, you can take a screenshot (or screen capture) image. Basically any Windows computer or laptop has the capability to capture screenshots without the need for third-party software.
I, myself, prefer to use third-party screenshot apps such as ShareX because they have more features and capabilities than the default Windows screenshot application Snipping Tool. For example, I can hide the cursor or upload the image to the cloud. However, you can’t go wrong with Snipping Tool or even the underrated “Print Screen” keyboard method.
If you don’t know how to take a screenshot on your Windows PC or laptop, don’t worry because you’ll soon be doing it like a pro! I’ll teach you the different techniques to capture a screenshot, whether you want to save the entire screen or just a portion of it.
Table of Contents
Use the Snipping Tool (or Snip & Sketch)
Almost every Windows 10 or 11 computer has the Snipping Tool (or Snip & Sketch) installed out of the box. If you don’t have the application installed, you can download it from the Microsoft Store.
Snipping Tool is a simple Windows application that lets you take screenshots of your computer screen in different modes: rectangular, freeform, window and full screen. The app also allows you to record your screen (or part of it) and save your recording as an MP4 video.
To launch the Snipping Tool in Windows 11, click the Windows icon on the taskbar, select All Apps and choose Snipping Tool. You can also type “Snipping Tool” in the search box.
In Windows 10, you can open the tool by clicking the Windows icon and scroll down the list of applications. Click Windows Accessories and then select Snipping Tool.
Alternatively, you can press Windows + Shift + S on your keyboard.
Create a new screenshot by clicking the New button or by pressing Windows + Shift + S.
The screen will go dim and a menu bar will appear at the top. You can then choose any of the following modes to take your screenshot:
- Rectangular mode – Take screenshots in the shape of a rectangle.
- Freeform mode – “Draw” your screenshots with your cursor.
- Window mode – Screenshot a specific window of an application.
- Full screen mode – Capture the entire screen including all open windows as well as the taskbar.
For rectangular mode and freeform mode, drag your cursor to highlight the area of the screen that you want to capture. For window mode, select the application window to screenshot.
After capturing your screenshot, it will be automatically saved in the Pictures > Screenshots folder. A preview notification will also appear at the bottom-right corner of the screen. Click it to mark up and share the image.
You can edit the screenshot image using the highlighter, eraser and other image editing tools. You can also crop it or add text.
To save the screenshot in a different location in your computer or laptop, click the Save button or type Ctrl + S.
You can use the following keyboard shortcuts when using the Snipping Tool:
- Ctrl + N – Take a new screenshot.
- Ctrl + S – Save the screenshot in your selected folder and file format.
- Ctrl + C – Copy the screenshot to your clipboard.
- Ctrl + P – Print the screenshot image with your printer.
- Ctrl + O – Open a file from your computer.
That’s it! Remember that your screenshots are automatically saved in the Pictures > Screenshots folder of your computer (you can enable or disable autosave by going to Settings and toggling “Automatically save screenshots”).
Use the Print Screen Key
If you don’t want to use the Snipping Tool (or if it’s not available on your computer), you can use the Print Screen key (or PrtSc key) instead. It’s usually located on the upper-right side of the Windows keyboard. If you’re using a laptop, you can find the Print Screen key either on the top row or the bottom row of the keyboard.
Here is how to take a screenshot using the Print Screen key:
- Press the Print Screen key (or PrtSc key) on your keyboard. The entire screen will be copied to your clipboard.
- Open an application that allows you to insert images, such as Microsoft Word or Paint.
- Paste or insert the screenshot by pressing Ctrl + V.
- Save the screenshot to your computer by pressing Ctrl + S.
If you want to capture the active window only, press Windows + Print Screen. Repeat the same procedure above to save the screenshot to your computer or laptop.
Use the Game Bar
Game Bar is a customizable gaming overlay for Windows 10 and 11. Although this application is primarily used to capture or record the screen while gaming, it can also be used for non-gaming purposes. Download the Game Bar from the Microsoft Store if you don’t have it yet.
To launch Game Bar, press Windows + G or type “Game Bar” in the Windows search box.
The screen will go dim and the Game Bar menu will appear at the top of the screen. Click the Capture button (or camera button) to open the Capture menu.
Click the camera icon in the Capture menu to take a screenshot, or press Windows + Alt + Print Screen on your keyboard.
To view your screenshots, click “See my captures” below the screenshot and recording buttons. You can also find your screenshots in the Videos > Captures folder of your computer.
Game Bar can also take a video recording of the screen. Just click the record icon in the Capture menu or press Windows + Alt + R. The recorded video will also be saved in the Videos > Captures folder.
Use Third-Party Screenshot Apps
Normally, I don’t recommend installing third-party screenshot software because the Snipping Tool and the Print Screen method are more than enough for the majority of Windows users.
But if you want to take your screenshots to the next level, then it’s absolutely necessary to use third-party software like ShareX. These applications come with powerful features that make your life easier, especially if you’re a content creator who create and share your screenshots with your audience.
These are the free screenshot software that I currently use or have used in the past:
ShareX is my favorite screenshot tool because of its extensive set of features such as the ability to take screenshots in full screen or partial mode, add image effects, upload to file sharing hosts (e.g. Imgur), hide the cursor, and many more.
ShareX comes with its own image editor, so you don’t need to use Paint or Adobe Photoshop to edit your screenshots. Use the image editor to crop or resize the image, or add elements such as text, watermarks, stickers and borders.
You can even assign your own keyboard shortcuts or hotkeys exclusively for ShareX. For example, you can set the Print Screen key as the hotkey to take a full-screen screenshot, and Shift + Print Screen as the hotkey to capture a selected area of the screen.
All in all, ShareX is a pretty powerful piece of software for those who work with screenshots and screen recordings on a regular basis. Best of all, it’s 100% free to download and use!
Lightshot was my go-to tool for screenshots until I discovered ShareX. It claims to be “the fastest way to take a customizable screenshot” which I think still holds true today.
The application sits prettily in the system tray until called upon to capture your screen or a portion of it. It only takes two clicks to take a screenshot using Lightshot.
After taking a screenshot, you have the option to share the image online via the Lightshot server. However, I don’t recommend uploading your screenshots online due to privacy and security risks.
Lightshot is a solid alternative to the Snipping Tool, but it’s a bit old and outdated, so I recommend ShareX instead.
You’ve just learned how to take a screenshot on your laptop or PC. Regardless of the method you use, taking a screenshot is one of the easiest things you can do on your computer. Familiarize yourself with your preferred screenshot-taking technique and you will have no problems dealing with them again.
And remember, don’t share screenshots that have personal and identifiable information on them. Make it a point to blur or erase any sensitive information before sharing your images (both the Snipping Tool and ShareX let you do that easily).