How to take screenshots in Windows 10

April 15, 2020
Emmanuel Villanueva

More than often we find ourselves wanting to share what we see. This is especially true on social media platforms, this is also the reason behind viral content that you could see being shared left and right. However what if what we're working with isn't something exactly "shareable" in terms of link or content but rather what we have in front of our screen? Isn't it wonderful to share what we can see to others with our own eyes? Well with technology right now it's not yet possible but with our computers, it's very much possible to do! And quite easy too! Because today we'll be teaching you on how to take a screenshot of your desktop screen in Windows 10.

So to start off let me explain what exactly is a screenshot. A screenshot is a visual representation of whatever we have on our computer screen, turned into an image so that we can share it, or view it later on. And why would you want to learn how to screenshot? Here's some practical application, let's say you would want to cook something over for a family dinner, maybe you want to get creative and prepare something you've never cooked before, so you go online, browse for some creative recipes that you haven't tasted nor tried yet but you'd like to follow the guide step-by-step. Unfortunately your computer isn't necessarily easy to bring into the kitchen. Well, with screenshot you can simply take a screenshot of your computer and have it printed so you would just have to bring a piece of paper with that perfect recipe you would be following.

Screenshots aren't necessarily limited to your computer. As a matter of fact, you can actually take a screenshot of your phone, your tablet, on some cases even TV, most device with a screen may offer you the option to screenshot whatever is being displayed on it. Windows is no different, they offer the functionality of being able to take a screenshot for your perusal. It is a built-in function, which means you don't have to install any third-party application or go through complicated process in order to have the ability to screenshot but rather just be aware of how to take one! Though third-party applications that focus on screenshots may offer more functionalities and convenience but for the sake of this tutorial we'll go with the basic methods on how to take a screenshot without those third-party apps on Windows 10.

taking a screenshot on windows
Screenshot example

Method One: Take screenshots with the Print Screen keyboard button (PrtScn)

The Print Screen button on your keyboard is actually a straight to the point function wherein simply pressing it would create a screenshot of whatever's on your screen. You may take a moment now in order to find the screenshot button on your keyboard which varies from different models of keyboards. Please do take note that the print screen button may be labeled differently on different models of keyboards they can be listed as "PrtScn", "PrntScrn", "Print Scr" or something close to the word print screen which you should be able to recognize quickly, if you're having difficulty in finding it you may have some luck if you take a look around the F12 key and scroll lock, on some laptop keyboards it may be a combination of the "Function" key or "Fn" and another button which would vary from model to model. So basically what happens is that when you press the print screen button, it may seem like nothing would happen but in reality, your screen has already gone through the process of being print screened and the image is now in your clipboard, which you may be able to paste on paint or some other application.

To Save Your Print Screened Images

There's a quick method in saving your print screened images! Instead of pressing the print screen button, pasting the image on paint, then saving the image as a file. We can eliminate all that hassle by simply pressing the "Windows logo button" + "Print screen button" and your images would be saved to the Pictures directory of your computer inside the folder Screenshots. However, if you're not using a computer, and you're using something else, perhaps like a tablet you may find this method of taking a print screen different, you may want to press the "Windows logo button" + "Volume Down Button". On some devices a different combination of keys such as "Windows logo key + Ctrl + Print Screen" or "Windows logo key + Fn + Print Screen" keys instead, if you're quite unsure how to take a screenshot on your laptop, computer or device you may want to check out it's manual for more information on how to take a screenshot using keyboard keys.

However one thing is common for all these different devices. If you have successfully taken a screenshot of your screen then the screen will dim for a moment, perhaps about a second and you will see your screenshot appear in the directory mentioned before. It would be saved as a file under "Screenshots" folder, inside the default "Pictures" folder and the screenshot is labeled with a number for easier image recognition.

windows screenshot process
Screenshots saved in their default directories

You will solely see your screen dim if you have got the “Animate windows once minimizing and maximizing” turned on in your visual effects settings (System > Advanced system settings > Click the Advanced tab > Click Settings under Performance section).

Visual Effects tab

To Take A Screenshot Without Saving

To take a screenshot without saving, simply press the "Print Screen" key on your keyboard and a screenshot will now be saved on your clipboard, it would not be visible at first until you decide to paste it on wherever you may want, applications such as paint and microsoft office and even your browser greatly supports this function. It is also worth noting that the dimensions of the image will be the same as the resolution of your desktop computer or device.

To Take A Screenshot Of Only One Window

Click on the title bar of the window that you just need to capture. Press “Alt + Print Screen”. A screenshot of your presently active window is now saved or copied to your clipboard (again it may not be visible at the moment as the image is in your clipboard) just as mentioned before. Paste it into your favorite image processor like paint or document processor such as Microsoft office. Note: On some laptops and different devices, you will ought to press the “Alt + Fn + PrtScn” keys instead. Check your laptop’s manual for additional info.

To Take A Screenshot Of A Part Of Your Screen

Press “Windows + Shift + S”. Your screen will dim for a few seconds indicating that you have successfully taken a screenshot and your mouse pointer will be invisible for a second or change. Click and drag on your screen to pick the a part of your screen you would want to be taken a screenshot of. A screenshot of the screen region you would wish to be placed on your clipboard and then simply paste it in any application by choosing Edit > Paste or pressing Ctrl + V, very similar as to how we post our screenshots aforementioned above.

This solely works in Windows 10’s Creators Update. On older versions of Windows, this crosscut is a component of Microsoft’s OneNote application. With the Creators Update, Microsoft integrated this crosscut into Windows ten itself.

Snipping tool in action

Method Two: The Snipping Tool And Its Capabilities

The snipping tool has been around for the longest time and it's quite visible as to why, it encompasses powerful features without overwhelming the user, in Windows 10 the user has an option for a "delay" as to when the screen shot would be taken allowing the user to properly set what they would want to be shown on the screen before the screenshot is taken making it a lot more preferred option when dealing with timed events. However this feature is only available on Windows 10, Windows 7 and 8 didn't have the delay feature back then but now as the program has been updated, we can now set proper time intervals for the screenshot allowing the user to be more prepared as to when the screenshot is about to be taken.

Delay option

The snipping tool also has different features or functionalities such as free-form snip, rectangular snip, window snip, and Full-screen snip. All of these snipping procedures vary from one another and it would be wise to get a feel of what you really need for the time. Free-form snip allows the user to drag the mouse and snip an image of whatever aspect ratio they set it too. While rectangular constraints the user into finishing the screenshot into more of a rectangular shape, while window snip allows the user to snip a certain program restricted only to the size of the window on the program being used and lastly the full-screen snip takes a screenshot of your whole screen much like how we would with the keyboard.

Different snipping features

Method Three: Use Keyboard Shortcuts using Game Bar on Windows 10

Windows 10 allows users to fully experience the operating system has to offer, out of the box it allows the user DVR capabilities allowing us to record videos or gameplay footage and take screenshots of the games itself. What the Game Bar option generates are screenshots in PNG format which means they are saved in a higher resolution with better quality and they would be saved at “C:Users[your username]VideosCaptures.”. In order to use it smoothly simply launch the Xbox app that is installed alongside your Windows 10 and open its settings. Under "Game DVR", toggle "Take screenshots using Game DVR" and here's the fun part, you get to assign whatever keyboard shortcut you want into taking a screenshot of whatever you have on-screen!

Windows DVR option

When you want to take a screenshot, use that keyboard combination (“Windows key + G” by default) then you will be asked if whatever you're trying to take a screenshot of is a game. Simply agree and select "Yes. This is a game" and your screenshots would be saved. Once successful you will see a notification saying "Screenshot saved" and if you click or tap onto that notification you would be redirected to "Xbox > Game DVR > On this PC" to see the image you have just taken.

Images taken using Game DVR

So that's it! Those are the three methods to take a screenshot of your computer without the need for any third party application! This can prove to be useful on a lot of situation and I hope I've been helpful in teaching you how to take a screenshot of your computer or device.

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