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Back to Basics: Screenshots

It’s a digital world now. Kids are remote learning. Teachers are giving lessons from their couch. Most people use a computer for a majority of tasks throughout the day. In all of these cases, a screenshot can be a lifesaver.

A screenshot (sometimes called a screen capture or snapshot) is a useful way to show someone else exactly what you are seeing on your computer screen. 

In this article, we are taking you back to the basics of computer shortcuts and tools, starting with where and how to take screenshots. Here are three built-in Windows 10 screenshot keyboard shortcuts.

Windows 10 Screenshot Shortcuts

Print Screen

Most laptops, Chromebooks and desktops running Windows 10 or earlier versions of Windows have a PrtScr key included in the keyboard. When pressed, the key captures an image of your entire computer screen, corner to corner, and saves the image inside File Explorer under Pictures > Screenshots. 

Laptop Keyboard with PrtScr key highlighted.

This key is most commonly found in the top row of your keyboard, but can be found elsewhere on some models. For condensed keyboards, especially on laptops or Chromebooks, you may need to press a Fn or Function key to enable it. 

Microsoft added a new key to computers running Windows 8 a few years back – the Windows key. It shows the Microsoft Windows logo as the icon. The key has stuck and Windows 10 still uses the Windows key today. Since it is technically a function key, your keyboard may use either Windows + PrtScr or Fn + PrtScr to capture an image. 

If you only need to capture an image of the app window you’re working within, press Windows + Shift + S. This will cause the screen to dim and open a toolbar where you can select options for a windows screenshot or a free-form screenshot.

Screenshot of Windows' Snip & Sketch popup when Windows key plus shift plus s shortcut pressed

Windows’ Snipping Tool

If you are a more visual user, the Windows’ Snipping Tool is an application that captures the whole screen or a piece of it. 

Screenshot of Windows' Snipping Tool

The Snipping Tool gives you more options found under Mode. Free-form, rectangle, window and full-screen snips can all be taken. The difference between this tool and the function key combo is the image is not saved automatically. Once snipped, you will be shown a preview, then have the option to save in any location on your computer and in multiple formats like JPEG, PNG, GIF, or even HTML. 

Windows 10 Snip & Sketch

You may have noticed the message in our Snipping Tool image. Microsoft has since upgraded the Snipping Tool as part of Windows 10 updates and will eventually remove it from current Windows OS versions. 

Screenshot of Windows 10 Snip and Sketch tool.

The upgraded tool is named Snip & Sketch. A majority of the previous options are still included, and the new tool has even received some additions, most notably the ability to share the image you’ve captured to nearby devices and other apps on your computer. 

The Windows + Shift + S combo mentioned above is a shortcut for the Snip & Sketch tool. 

See more Windows 10 tips & tricks

Oh, you’re a Mac user? Check out these 10 Mac life hacks you can’t go without.