Screenshots have always been the best way to capture your screen on Windows and the platform has always offered a PrintScreen key. to do it on the fly. But as Windows has progressed over time, the ways to take screenshots have also evolved. You can now do this via various tools, whether it is the print screen key (Keyboard shortcut), the screenshot tool, or third-party software. Here are all the ways to take screenshots in Windows.
Method #01: Use the Print Screen Key (Keyboard Shortcut)
Capture entire screen and copy to clipboard via print screen key
The fastest and easiest way to take a screenshot on Windows 11 is to press the print screen key , or Prt.Screen on your keyboard. The key is a dedicated key that has been physically present on Windows keyboards for a very long time. This won’t save the image to your PC, but will add it to your clipboard – you can paste it into any image editing app, including Paint, among others. To paste the screenshot, launch the app and press CTRL+V , the keyboard shortcut for pasting.
Use the PrintScreen key with OneDrive
You can also use Prt.Screen with OneDrive to automatically create an image file of your screenshot in OneDrive. I’m separating this method from the rest of the print screen options because the result is very different and saves you the steps of opening an app and pasting from the clipboard. Here is how to implement this function:
Go to OneDrive settings from the cloud-shaped icon on the right of the taskbar.
Choose the Backup tab in the OneDrive settings dialog, and check Automatically save screenshots to OneDrive .
This simple checkbox changes absolutely everything about PrintScreen: You no longer need to open image editing software or paste anything from the clipboard. An image file will automatically be created in the OneDrive folder of your choice. You can access it from any device on which you have access to OneDrive (there are clients for all platforms). I always use this method when I need to use the screenshot as an image file rather than pasting it somewhere.
Over the years print screen functionality has been integrated more and more into Windows and more and more shortcuts have been added. Here’s everything you need to know about the PrintScreen key and how to take screenshots with it.
Take a full screenshot with the print screen key
If you want to take a screenshot of your entire screen, press the Windows + Pr.Screen keys on your keyboard simultaneously. This will capture your entire screen and the screenshot will be stored in the following location.
Your screenshots will be automatically named and numbered, then stored in PNG format. If you don’t want to save the image in PNG format, just open the image in Paint and save it in the format of your choice – JPEG, GIF, etc.
Capture window activate with PrintScreen key
You can also capture the activate window of your Windows PC by simultaneously pressing the Alt + Pr.Screen keys on your keyboard. This will capture the active window to the clipboard. You can then use the guide to save screenshots to save it as an image. If you want to upload it to a cloud sercive or use it in an instant messenger, just paste the image where you want and it will be automatically uploaded to the servers.
Capture part of the screen with the print screen key
If you want to capture a portion of the screen via the PrintScreen key, press Windows + Shift + S on your keyboard.
A selection rectangle will appear. Click and drag the selection on your screen to capture the area and copy it to the clipboard. This capture can then be pasted into any text field such as when composing an e-mail, or on an image sharing site, or in an image editing tool to create new images. You can then add the captured area as a new layer in any compatible PC image editing software.
Where are the screenshots I take with the PrintScreen key?
Your screenshots are either stored on your local storage or directly copied to the clipboard according to your choice. If you decide to capture your full screen, your screenshots will be stored in PNG format in the following location on your PC.
If, on the other hand, you decide to capture only part of your screen or the active window, then the capture will be temporarily copied to the clipboard. It will then be deleted if you copy something else and you will have to capture again. In this case, you can save the capture to a blank image file to create your own image, or paste it into a compatible field to create/upload an image. Use the guide below to save your screenshots to your local storage in PNG or JPEG format.
How to save screenshots made with the PrintScreen key in PNG or JPEG format
Capture any window or portion of screen as you normally would. Once captured, open Paint on your Windows PC. The easiest way to do this is to press Windows + S on your keyboard and search for Paint .
Once Paint is open, reduce the canvas size to a size smaller than your capture.
Now press Ctrl + V to paste the capture.
Click File at the top left and then click Save As .Navigate to the location where you want to save your capture. Now enter the desired name and then the desired file format from the drop-down menu below.
Once you’ve made your choice, click Save .
And it’s good ! The capture will now be saved to the chosen location in the desired format.
Method #02: Use Snipping Tool
Besides the print screen key, Windows 11 also provides the snipping tool, to help you capture your screen easily. You can capture your screen in a variety of ways using the snipping tool, just like using the print screen key, but with more simplicity and fewer keyboard shortcuts to remember. Follow the guide below that best suits your needs at the moment.
Windows 11 avoids the previous confusions by combining the Snipping Tool with the awesome Snipping and Sketching tool of Windows 11. The Snipping Tool is the name adopted for the combination of Windows 11 screenshot tools .
Activate the screenshot tool via a keyboard shortcut (the easiest)
You can activate the snipping tool on your Windows 11 system via a hotkey. Simultaneously press Windows + Shift + S to open the screenshot toolbar.
You’ll find four snipping options at the top, while the last is for closing the snipping tool. Choose the desired option to capture your screen:
- Rectangular Snipping: This is the default tool that activates when you activate Snipping Tool on your Windows PC. The tool allows you to capture any rectangle on your screen.
- Window Capture: There are times when you only want to capture a window rather than your full screen. Drawing the shape of a window in rectangle or freeform mode can be complicated, that’s why there is a dedicated option to capture any active window. Use the guide below to do this.
- Full screen capture: You can also easily take a full screen capture of your device via the screen capture tool.
- Freeform Capture: In this mode, you can capture a screenshot of any shape.
After making your capture, a notification will appear at the bottom right of the screen. Click on the notification to open the screenshot in the app to annotate it.
You will find various options in the toolbar at the top. The option to capture a new screenshot is on the left, the various annotation tools are in the center of the toolbar, and the options for zooming, saving, copying to clipboard, and sharing are at right.
Let’s see the various options the app offers.
- Ballpoint stylus: This tool simulates the use of a ballpoint pen. You can click the down arrow below to choose the color of your choice as well as the thickness of the line via the gauge at the bottom.
- Highlighter: As you might have guessed, this tool simulates a highlighter that can be used to annotate important parts of your capture. Just like the tools above, just click and choose which highlighter tool to use while annotating. You can click the down arrow to change the color and size.
- Gum: Did you make a mistake? You can use this tool to simply erase any annotation you may have made on your capture. Simply click on the eraser tool then click and drag over the annotation you want to erase. In addition to that, in case you want to remove all annotations, you can click on the down arrow and then select Remove All . This will remove any annotations you added to your capture.
- Rule: Drawing straight lines can be tricky when digitally annotating an image. Luckily, the ruler tool is here to help. Click and select the Ruler Tool from the toolbar at the top, and a ruler should appear on your screen. Then simply move the ruler to the desired location. Once you’ve placed the ruler the way you want, choose a drawing tool, then click and drag along the ruler. You should now have a straight line where you want it.
- Touch Writing: An option specific to tablet users or who have a touchscreen or pen input device. This option can be used in the snipping tool to easily switch input devices to easily annotate your capture. This option works in conjunction with the tools mentioned above.
- Crop image: Did you miss your capture slightly? You can always use the crop option to crop and beautify your screenshot. Click on the tool at the top of your screen then click and drag to select the area to crop.
More importantly, you can save the screenshot and any edits by clicking the 3.5 inch floppy disk icon (some visual metaphors never die). A Share button lets you send the image via the standard Windows 11 share panel, and you can also print the image or open it in another app from the options menu.
You will become familiar with the different options in minutes. The tool is quite simple and has an intuitive interface. The screenshot tool offers very handy editing options.
One of the benefits of the Snipping Tool is that you can easily change settings and launch the app just by pressing the PrintScreen key .
To enable this option, open the Start Menu , search for Settings , then click on the appropriate result.
You will have a list of different settings on the left, click on Accessibility .
In the Accessibility settings , scroll right down to Keyboard under the Interaction section .
Then click the switch next to Use the Print Screen button to open the screenshot to enable the feature.
It is recommended to restart the computer for the changes to take effect for all apps. Once you have restarted your computer, a single press of PrintScreen or Fn + PrintScreen (if applicable) will launch the screen capture tool.
Activate the screenshot tool from the app
Simply press Windows + S on your keyboard to open Windows 11 Finder, and look for Snipping Tool . You won’t need to type the whole name for the app to show up.
Once it appears, simply click on its name to launch the app. Now click on New if you want to make a rectangular capture.
If you want to capture a window or a free form, click on Mode then choose the desired option. You can see detailed descriptions of the four modes above.
Click on New then drag the cursor on the screen to capture the desired portion according to the chosen tool.
If you want to capture a pop-up or tooltip, the Self- timer option is what you need. Simply click on the Self- timer option , choose the desired length of time before capturing, then the desired mode. The self-timer option works with all four modes.
After choosing the wait time and mode, make sure that the pop-up or bubble is displayed at the time of capture, then click capture via the method mentioned above.
The capture will then be added to the snipping tool and you can edit and save it as you see fit.
You can use the various options mentioned above to take full advantage of the possibilities of the screen capture tool.
Method #03: Use a third-party screenshot app
For many years I was an avid user of SnagIt – which remains our favorite screenshot utility – mostly because I loved how it saved all your screenshots for later. (So the Windows built-in tool now meets my expectations in this regard.) SnagIt can also capture video of your on-screen actions, Windows scrolling, graphics like arrows and so on.
Method #04: Use Game Bar (Xbox Game Bar)
Windows key + G opens the Game bar. From there, if you go to the Capture window, you’ll see a camera-shaped icon.
Click it, and your screenshot will be saved (quite counter-intuitively) to your main user’s Videos/Captures folder.
You can change the target folder via Windows Settings. (Alternatively, you can press Windows Key + Alt + PrintScreen so you don’t have to open the Game Bar.)
Use Volume Up + On on Surface tablets
Taking screenshots on Surface tablets is different from doing it on PC unless you have a keyboard plugged in. The on-screen touch keyboard does not have a PrintScreen key.
On the Surface Pro 8 and most of its predecessors, you can press Volume Up and the Power button at the same time to take a screenshot. Be careful to press both buttons simultaneously or your screen will turn off.
The result of this capture method is the same as with the PrintScreen key: The image is copied to your clipboard and you will have to paste it into a dedicated app, unless you have set up recording in OneDrive.
Older Surface tablets use the Fn + Windows key + Spacebar combination on attached keyboards, and some required you to press the On button and a physical Windows button at the same time. On the Dell Latitude tablet you can use the On and Volume Down buttons simultaneously; for less popular tablet models, rely on the model’s documentation or experiment. As we mentioned earlier, a double-tap on the Surface Pen’s back button opens the Snipping Tool.
Screenshots under Windows 11: Some tips
Here are some additional tips that might help you with your screenshots on Windows 11.
Where is the PrntScreen key
The answer may not be obvious as it depends on the type of keyboard you are using. You can use the section below to find the PrintScreen key on your keyboard.
- Full size keyboard: This is the type of keyboard on which finding the PrintScreen key is the easiest. Look above the arrow keys near the delete key and there you will find the print screen keys and a few others.
- Compact keyboards: On most compact keyboards, you’ll find the PrintScreen key near the arrow keys at the bottom, usually between the Alt and Ctrl keys. If you can’t find it there, it’s probably somewhere in the Fn keys or number keys.
- Laptops: We move on to the most complicated. Each laptop has its own keyboard that is slightly different from the others, unless you have opted for a totally standard model. Most of the time, you’ll find the key in the top right corner of your keyboard, but if you don’t, you’ll have to search your entire keyboard. Sometimes the PrintScreen key is on the same key as another symbol or function, and you will need to use the Fn key to activate it.
I can’t find the PrintScreen key on my keyboard
If you really cannot find the PrintScreen key, you will need to contact the manufacturer. Although it is extremely unlikely that it is not present, it is still possible if you have opted for an ultra compact model. In addition to this, many keyboards tend to place the PrintScreen function with another key, so you will need to double check that it is not with Scroll Lock for example. We therefore recommend that you contact your manufacturer to find the Prt.Ecr key on your specific model.
We hope this guide has helped you learn all about taking screenshots on Windows 11. If you have any issues or questions, please let us know in the comments section below.