As a software reviewer for PCMag, I have to take a lot of screenshots every day. Screenshots are the best way to show people how a program looks when it is actually being used. I review Windows software most of the time, so I know how to take screenshots on that operating system. Almost every computer user needs to take a screenshot at some point, even if it’s just to show what’s on the screen to someone else.
It’s crazy how long it’s taken to get this simple skill down pat. Windows has been able to print the screen since the first PCs came out in the 1980s, though their text-based option was different from the raster screenshots that are used today. With Windows 10, you could take screenshots in new ways, like with the Snip & Sketch utility. With Windows 11, the Snipping Tool makes it even easier to take screenshots.
We will talk about screenshots in Windows 10 here. Here, I’ll show you how to take a picture of your Windows 10 PC screen in a few different ways so you can choose the one that works best for you.
1. Press Shift-Windows Key-S and Snip & Sketch.
After using Snagit for many years, this is now the way I take most of my screenshots: When you press Shift + Windows Key + S on your keyboard, you can take a picture of the whole screen, a rectangle, a freehand shape, or a program window. The Screen Snip button in the Action Center is another way to open Snip & Sketch.
When you use this keyboard shortcut, a small thumbnail panel appears in the lower right corner for a moment and says “Snip Saved to Clipboard.” If you tap this, the Snip & Sketch window will open. In this, you can crop the image and make notes on it with a pen, pencil, highlighter, eraser, or ruler. Then you can save the image to a folder of your choice or share it using the Windows Share menu. This lets you send it to Instagram, Messenger, Mail, or any other app that supports the file type. You can also send it to a PC nearby that has Nearby Sharing turned on.
Text overlay and basic shapes, like the always-useful arrow, are two things I wish Snip & Sketch had. If you only want to use this tool, you can go to the Settings app in Windows and choose Ease of Access > Keyboard, and then use the PrtSc Button to Open Screen Snipping. Windows must be restarted for this to work.
2. Use the Print Screen key with the clipboard
This has been the standard way to take a screenshot in Windows 10 for a long time. It’s especially helpful for apps that change how they look when you press a certain key combination. When you tap the shift key, a menu will often close. When you press the Print Screen or PrtSc key, the whole screen is copied to the Clipboard. If you press Alt along with Print Screen, only the active window rectangle is copied.
You do need to take extra steps to open and save your image in a program like Paint, Paint 3D, or Photoshop that works with images (unless you take advantage of the next tip). When you’re in a new document in one of these apps, just press Ctrl-V to paste the image. You can then edit it as much as you want and save it in the folder of your choice.
3. With OneDrive, use the Print Screen key
This is one of the best things to ever show up on Windows screenshots. It came out in 2015. With the Print Screen and Alt-Print Screen keys, you can save the whole screen or just the active window, just like with the Print Screen key. But if you go to OneDrive’s Settings panel and choose Automatically Save Screenshots/Captures to OneDrive from the Backup tab, you won’t have to open an image app, paste the file from the clipboard, and then save the file. When you press “Print Screen,” an image file is saved in one step.
The Action Center on the right side of the screen lets you know that your shot was saved, and you can click on the message to go right to the folder where it’s stored. If you use this method a lot, you may need more cloud storage than just the 5GB that is free. With an Office 365 account, which starts at $6.99 per month, you get 1TB of storage space and all the well-known productivity apps.
4. Use the shortcut Windows-Print Screen
This method was first used in Windows 8, but it still works in Windows 10. Some of the other ways in this story are more complicated than this one. You can do this on tablets like the Surface Pro by pressing the Volume Down and Power buttons at the same time. This or the Windows Key + Print Screen key combination will darken the screen for a moment to show you that it worked and save a PNG file to your Pictures > Screenshots folder right away.
When you press Alt+Windows+Print Screen, you only save the active window. Interestingly, this uses the Windows Game Bar (see next slide) to save your screenshot in the Videos/Captures folder. Both of these ways are good if you want to save something right away without having to use Clipboard or OneDrive.
5. Use the Game Bar on Windows
When you press Windows Key + G, the Game bar comes up, which has an icon that looks like a webcam. If you tap this, the “Capture” section, which has a camera icon, will open. Tap that, and your screenshot will be saved in the Videos/Captures folder under your main user folder.
6. Use the Snipping Tool
7. Use Snagit or another service from a third party.
You can also use a tool made by someone else to take screenshots. At PCMag, Snagit is our favorite app for taking screenshots. At least one big thing makes Snagit better than the screenshot tools that come with Windows: You can take as many pictures as you want, and they will all be saved in the utility’s library, where you can find them whenever you need them. It’s the easiest way to take screenshots without stopping what you’re doing. When you’re ready to deal with the photos, you can look through the history and save the ones you want to a folder of your choice.
Snagit also has advanced tools like tools for taking screenshots of a video or a window that is scrolling. It comes with helpful tools for editing images and drawing, such as brightness, arrows, text overlay, and borders. What’s wrong? A license for Snagit costs $62.99, but it’s worth the money for those who need its advanced features.
Ashampoo Snap, Droplr, and Screencast-O-Matic are also good third-party options for taking screenshots. All of these can be found in our list of the Best Screen-Capture Apps.
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8. Click your Surface Pen twice
If you’re using a touch-screen PC that supports digital writing, like a Surface Pro, you can take a screenshot of the whole screen by double-clicking the Back button on the Surface Pen. This opens Snip and Sketch with the full screenshot ready to be annotated, edited, and shared.