Subject: How to capture a "Screen Shot" in any version of Windows  

Greetings, Fellow Windows Users.

Here's that information I promised you, about how to "grab" a picture of something on your Windows screen.

I looked around in Windows' own Help and Support system, by searching on "print screen", and I found a short and sparse explanation of this technique:


Good old Google found me a few websites with pretty good explanations; I'll continue to explore, in the meantime, and see how other people explain it

Anyway, here's my own "vanilla" explanation of this very useful and easy-to-use Windows Trick, for when you want to grab a picture of the entire screen, or just the "current window", such as when there's some weird Error Message or Dialogue Box on the screen, and you want to save it so you can show it, or send it, to your Tech Support Person.


How to use Print Screen in Windows:

It's actually very easy; this "trick" uses a built-in Windows function, that's been around since the very first days of Windows:



1. Locate the "Print Screen" button on your keyboard (it might be spelled PrtSc).

It might be a key-combination, on a laptop (which has more multiple-use keys than a desktop's keyboard); on my Dell laptop, it's Fn+Insert (the "PrtSc" is Blue on the Insert key, indicating that I have to press and hold the "Function" ("Fn") key before I press the other key.

If you want to capture the entire Windows screen, use the PrtSc button by itself.

If you want to just capture the Current Window (whichever window has a darker-colored title bar, which is also, usually, the window on top of other windows), use Alt-PrtSc. (Press 'Alt' and hold it, then press 'PrtSc', then let go of both keys.)

So, on my laptop, I have to press "Alt" and "Fn", then press "PrtSc" while holding down "Alt" and "Fn", then let go of all three keys.

Nothing seems to happen when you press the PrtSc key (or key combination); however, you have just grabbed a graphic "photo" of the appropriate screen area, depending on which of the two functions above that you performed.

The graphic image is "parked" in Windows' Clipboard, waiting to be Pasted someplace.





2. Open any graphics program.

Windows' own "Paint" or "Paint Brush" program (under Start, Programs, Accessories) will do fine.


3. Use the Paste function to Paste the captured image into a new Paint window. (click on Edit, then click on Paste. Or, use Ctrl-V, the keyboard shortcut for Paste)



4. Use "Save As" to save the graphic as a JPEG file, which will take up much less disk-space than any of the other formats.

If your Paint doesn't seem to have 'JPEG' listed as one of the graphic options, that's fine; just save it as something, such as a .BMP (Bitmap) file, or whatever; it's more important for you to develop confidence in using this little trick, than to worry about the type or size of the file, for now.

And, of course, be sure to Save it someplace where you can find it, such as under your My Documents folder. On my home computer, I've made a folder called Screen Shots under my My Documents, so I can find those pesky things that I want to send to people.

Presto! Instant graphics for How To handouts, tutorials, PowerPoint slide shows, emailing, printing, whatever.



5. Once you've got this image saved, you can then choose to print it, or attach it to an Email, or just hang onto it, for the next time your Tech Support Person comes to visit you.



By the way: once you've got some graphic image sitting in the Windows Clipboard, you can Paste it into ANY application that accepts graphics; for instance, since I'm composing this Email in Outlook, and I've formatted the message as Rich Text Format (a type of universal word processing file), I can even Paste a captured screen shot right here into this message; let's see, I'll go find something interesting that's running in my Windows right now...

I opened up my Norton Internet Security 2005 (by double-clicking the little gold icon in the bottom-right "tray" of Windows), which opened up that Status Screen, and then I used Alt-PrtSc to grab just that particular window, and then I came back here to my Outlook message, and just pasted the sucker right there.



Paint is a quick-to-load and easy-to-find Graphics Program, which is why I suggest using that, at first. And, it comes free with every version of Windows.

If you always use the same technique, at least while you're learning a "new gadget", then it will be less confusing, when you want to remember "what the heck was it that Bill was trying to teach me???" stuff :-)

The Windows Clipboard is an amazing tool, and I enjoy helping folks add it to their "mental toolbox", because it's a very powerful gadget that I use many times every day, to copy text, or graphics, from one program to another, because I'm *lazy*, and I'd rather not type something over (or make a mistake while transferring some information!), if Windows will help me make a perfect copy of the information, and put it someplace else for me.


And, as always, I really and truly ENJOY helping people get more pleasure, satisfaction and utility from their computers. Please feel free to Email me questions, ideas, concerns, or problems, any time, and I will answer you as quickly as possible.

Of course, by doing it in writing, as much as possible, you'll have a copy of what I sent you, and I'll have a copy, too, so I can remember what I sent, and I can use your question, and what answer we came up with, to help other folks.

If you have trouble with this technique, or anything else in Windows, by all means, please let me know, and I'll attempt to explain it better.


Bill Thomassen