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  • Lowell

Make a Copy of Your Computer Screen (Screenshot)

Updated: Nov 19, 2020

This is a long post. If you want some quick ways to capture your computer screen, read the first two topics. The third topic, Snipping Tool may be on its way out. The final topic, Snip and Sketch is Snipping Tool with many new features. It is easily invoked with the keyboard combination Windows key+Shift+S, but offers more options than the first two simple methods. This is my preferred tool.

Sometimes you need a picture (screenshot) of your computer screen. Maybe you need a memory jogger or maybe you are trying to give or receive help by showing what is displayed onscreen.

Windows 10 has several built-in screen capture programs. Once you capture a picture of your screen, you can paste it into another program. With some of the tools discussed below, you can save the screenshot as a picture file. We will work from the simplest to the more advanced and feature-rich capture methods.

PrtScr Key

Every computer keyboard has a PrtScr key. It is usually located on the top row of keys, to the right of the F12 key. Tapping this key will send a copy of your entire screen to the Windows Clipboard. You will not see or hear anything happen. After taking the screenshot, switch to a word processor, an email message, a PowerPoint slide, or anything that will accept an image. Press Ctrl+V to Paste the screenshot into your program.

Alt+PrtScr Keys

Holding the Alt key while tapping the PrtScr key will capture only the active window on your screen. If you have a Microsoft Word document window and an email window open and are working in the email window (the active window) Alt+PrtScr will capture only the email window. Again, you will not hear or see anything happen, but a copy of the active window has been sent to the Windows Clipboard. Ctrl+V will paste the screenshot.

Snipping Tool

Open the Snipping Tool by clicking the Start button or pressing the Windows key on your keyboard. Then begin typing “snipping tool” until you see it appear at the top of the Start Menu. Alternatively, if you have a Search box to the right of the Start button, you can begin typing in it. Click Snipping Tool when it appears.

I have not used Snipping Tool in a while and was surprised to see the message below appear. Makes me think Microsoft will eventually discard this tool.

The New button lets you initiate a new “snip.” The Mode button offers choices of Free Form, Rectangular, Window, and Full screen snips. The Delay button lets you use a delay of 1 to 5 seconds, so that you can prepare your screen for what you wish to capture. You should choose Mode and Delay before initiating a New capture.

Once you have captured your screen, the Snipping Tool window re-opens and displays these options and your captured image below them:

New, Mode, and Delay have been covered.

  1. The floppy disk button allows you to save the capture as a file.

  2. The two overlapping sheets of paper perform a copy operation. You may need to do this to save any changes you have made to the capture.

  3. The envelope lets you send the capture to an email recipient or to an email recipient as an attachment. I suspect this works only if you have an email program (like Outlook, Thunderbird, etc.) running on your computer. If you use a browser to connect to your email program online, you may need to use Copy so that you can Paste the capture into your email program online.

  4. The pen tool lets you choose from red, blue, and black inks or you can customize the color. Using the pen tool, you can markup the capture.

  5. The highlighter will let you drag your mouse across the capture to highlight certain portions.

  6. The eraser will remove whatever markups you have added using the pen or highlighter. If you have made continuous markups, then a simple click of the eraser on each markup will remove it.

  7. The colored bubble is the Edit with 3D Paint tool. You can open the capture in this paint program and access additional features.

Snip and Sketch

This is the tool I use most. I invoke it by holding the Windows key and Shift key down while pressing the S key. So, Windows key+Shift+S is the keyboard command. When you open the program, your screen will dim, and you will see a bar across the top of your screen:

From left to right, the buttons represent rectangular (blue color means it is the currently chosen option), free form, window, and full screen captures. The X on the right closes the tool. The Esc key (upper left corner of keyboard) will also close the tool

  • If you choose rectangular capture, your mouse cursor becomes a plus sign, and you drag across the screen to select what you wish to capture.

  • If you choose free form, your mouse cursor remains an arrow, and you drag across what you wish to capture.

  • If you choose window snip, the tool captures any visible windows on your screen but does not capture anything that may be outside the windows. For example, I opened two different programs in separate windows and sized them so that part of the desktop screen was visible. Only the two windows were captured.

  • Full screen capture grabs everything on your screen. Using the example above, the tool captured the two windows, and the visible portion of my desktop screen.

  • After you complete the capture, a large, black rectangle will emerge in the lower right corner of your screen. When this happens, your capture has been placed on the Clipboard and you can paste if you do not need to mark up the capture. If you wish to mark up, then click the rectangle and you will see the Snip and Sketch window open with a toolbar above your captured image:

  1. The New button initiates a new capture.

  2. This drop-down arrow allows you to choose a delay before screen capture begins

  3. Undo and Redo arrows.

  4. This button enables touch screen capability for those computers so equipped.

  5. Ball Point Pen – Click to activate, click the arrow that appears to assign ink color and size.

  6. Pencil – Click to activate, click the arrow that appears to assign ink color and size.

  7. Highlighter - Click to activate, click the arrow that appears to assign ink color and size.

  8. Eraser – After activating, click again to see the option to erase all markup. Otherwise, drag across the markup you wish to remove.

  9. Ruler/Protractor – Click to choose the option you need. Rotate the ruler by hovering your mouse over it and turning the scroll wheel. Remove either tool by dragging it off-screen.

  10. Crop – Drag any of the four white dots that appear on the corners of the capture to remove positions of the capture. Click the check mark in the upper right corner to save , click the cancel button or press the Esc key to cancel.

  11. Zoom – Zoom in on your capture.

  12. Save your capture to a file.

  13. Share your capture. Options that appear are dependent on the programs you have installed on your computer.

  14. Make a copy of your capture on the Clipboard.

  15. Ellipse (...) Button - Additional options for opening another file, printing your capture, sending feedback, or changing program settings.

I hope this post helps you add new tools to your Windows computer skills.


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