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Creating Windows Screenshots - How to use the Print Screen Key

A picture tells a thousand words they say, and sending or printing a screenshot of an application in action can often be of great assistance if you are seeking technical help, teaching someone how to perform a particular task or simply recommending the program to a friend.

Windows has a built-in function that allows you to easily create screenshots of any open Window, including the desktop. This function is accessed by pressing the "Print Screen" key on your computer keyboard. On most keyboards, the Print Screen key is located on the upper right above the "Insert" key. On some keyboards, it may be labelled "prt scr" rather than "Print Screen".



To create a screenshot:

  1. With the desired application open, hit the Print Screen key. Pressing the Print Screen key should store a copy of the current computer screen on the Windows Clipboard.

  2. You can then paste the image into an image program such as MS Paint, manipulate it as desired, and save it to your hard drive for future reference. You can also paste it to other compatible programs such as MS Word, Power Point and others.

  3. Now you will be able to view this frozen moment in your computer's history any time you like as well as print it, upload it to a web page or email it as required. (You may need to reduce the image file size before uploading it to a website or emailing it.)


To create a screenshot of just the active Window rather than the entire computer screen, press "Alt + Print Screen" rather than just "Print Screen".

By the way, the label "Print Screen" is a carry over from earlier days of computing. In the DOS operating system, hitting the Print Screen button simply printed an image of the screen displayed at the time, hence the name.


Tip by Brett M.Christensen