Windows 11 Will Make Print Screen Key Open Snipping Tool

Windows 11 Snipping Tool
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

After nearly two decades of performing the same function, Microsoft will reportedly change how the Print Screen key on your keyboard works in future builds of Windows 11.

In its current incarnation, pressing the Print Screen key takes a screenshot of whatever is currently displayed on your screen and saves it to the clipboard – it’s been that way since The Rolling Stones belted out “Start Me Up” to signify the arrival of Windows 95. In addition, if you have an active OneDrive account, the Print Screen command can automatically send the captured screenshot to your OneDrive/Pictures/Screenshots folder. 

That all changes with Windows 11 KB5025310, which is currently making the rounds in the Windows Insider Beta Channel. According to Windows Latest, which first discovered the change, pressing the Print Screen key will instead call up the Snipping Tool in Windows 11. The Snipping Tool is Windows 11’s native screenshot/screen recording tool.

However, thanks to this new behavior, pressing Print Screen won’t automatically save a screenshot to your clipboard or OneDrive. You will instead have to first interact with the Snipping Tool to select if you want to capture a screenshot of the entire screen, an active window, or a rectangular/freeform selection. You can also start a screen recording session from this menu. 

Microsoft’s clear intent here is a desire to have users, by default, interact with the feature-packed Sniping Tool. However, we’re confident many veteran Windows users will scoff at the extra steps involved with the refocused Print Screen key. Of course, Microsoft knows this as well, so Windows Latest reports that there is a way to revert to the “old” Print Screen behavior.

Windows 11 users will only need to navigate to Settings -> Accessibility > Keyboard, after which they must toggle off the button labeled “Use the Print Screen key to open Snipping Tool.”

It remains to be seen if long-time Windows users acclimated to the current behavior of the Print Screen key will welcome the upcoming change with open arms. However, Windows 11 users can at least take solace because the change can be easily reverted if it’s not to their liking.

Brandon Hill

Brandon Hill is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware. He has written about PC and Mac tech since the late 1990s with bylines at AnandTech, DailyTech, and Hot Hardware. When he is not consuming copious amounts of tech news, he can be found enjoying the NC mountains or the beach with his wife and two sons.

  • BillyBuerger
    The option to enable this already exists. But I could see them turning it on by default in the future. My initial thought was that it would be fine. Hit Print-Screen and your screen shot shows up in the snipping tool where you can copy it to something else or do some quick mark up on it. But, it doesn't do that. I brings up the snipping tool mini-bar where you then have to pick to do a screen shot. So it seems more like they're making it into a shortcut key that doesn't actually do anything until you provide additional feedback. I don't like that. The function should still be the same which is to capture the whole screen. Changing where that goes next is a reasonable update but this seems a bit stupid. Also would help if they didn't break the Snipping tool in the recent update I assume when they added the video capture part. The tool opens up way to small now to be useful. It used to resize to the size of what was captured and where it was captured as long as it fit. Hopefully that will be something fixed in the future as well.
  • That is perfect for my needs. What’s the problem? I use it all the time and it doesn’t open up small.
  • cyrusfox
    As long as it can be turned off, fine by me.

    I only use shareX, if I want to take a custom screen crop I use a hotkey to do that. I stopped using snippet ages ago. ShareX does so much more and it is free, make sure turn off autoupload to not get in trouble at work :)
  • KyaraM
    Okay, that's cool. I use the snipping cool quite often. I just hope it won't do that in games... got one set up to save screenshots to my NAS directly, in that case it would be super annoying.
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    And it's a feature that needs to be disabled by default. Print screen (whole screen) and Windows+Shift+S (custom snip) are apart for a reason.
  • gdmaclew
    Pressing the Windows key and PrtScr already saves a PNG file in the Windows 10 Pictures Folder.