Five Easy Ways To Capture a Screenshot in Windows 10

Over decades and across different operating systems, there have been various methods, software, and key combinations to capture your screen (or just part of it) and save the image.  Knowing how to do this efficiently can save a bit of time and effort when trying to share with others. We’ll cover a few different methods in this tutorial using Windows 10 version 1809 (OS Build 17763.437).

1. Press the Print Screen button on your keyboard. This action places the image on the clipboard and ready to be pasted into an application. Note this method does NOT automatically save the file. If you have multiple monitors it will capture the image on all screens.

2. Simply open Paint, right click in the open space and click paste (or CTRL+V). The image saved should now be visible on the screen. Once the screen(s) are captured, you can use any number of programs to paste the image into, including Paint, Paint 3D, and Snip and Sketch, as well as third-party applications like Photoshop, Paint.NET, etc. We’ll use MS Paint in this case. 

3. Press the Save button or use File->Save As in order to save the image to a location of your choice. Name your file something that you’ll remember and store it in the appropriate location on your PC. 

Alt + Print Screen

If you have multiple windows open and only need the active/in-focus window captured, an alternative method is to hold down the Alt key and then pressing Print Screen.

1. Hold down the alt key and press the Print Screen button on your keyboard. This will capture only the in-focus/active window (the window 'on top'. This places the image on the clipboard, ready to be pasted into an application. Note that this method also doesn’t automatically save the file.

2. Just like with the previous method above, you can then use several Windows or third-party applications to paste and save your captured file.

3. Press the save button or use File>Save As and save the image to a location of your choice. Name your file something easy to remember.

4. Press the Save button. The Save As dialog box will pop up and allow you to save the image in a location of your choice.

Windows Key + Print Screen

Another similar method to the above is using the Windows key + Print Screen button. The difference with this method is the screenshot will be saved automatically to a specific location on the PC.

1.  Hold down the Windows Key and press the Print Screen button on your keyboard. This will capture your entire screen and have it save automatically, The screen will go dark for a split second, which lets you know the process worked. This places the image on the clipboard and also saves in the Pictures>Screenshots folder. Note that if you have multiple monitors will capture the image on all screens.

2. Next, Open File Explorer and navigate to the Pictures > Screenshots folder to navigate to the file just saved. You can then open, move, or rename your captured image.

Snipping Tool

Another method for capturing screenshots is through the Windows Snipping tool. This piece of software allows you to customize how the screen gets captured giving users four options. There is Free-form, Rectangular, Window and Full-screen snip capabilities which should suit everyone’s needs if the other methods aren’t what you are looking for.

1. Open the Snipping Tool application by typing in the name of the application in the search bar and hit Enter to open it. There is more than one way to do this.

2. Click on the Mode function in the toolbar to bring up the list of options. Select which option suits your purpose. This allows you to select how you’d like to capture the screen(s). In this case, I selected the free-form snip to capture my image.

3. Once your method is chosen, the screen will change to a frosted transparent appearance. Snip away as needed with whatever method you chose. Below is an example of a free-form snip of the Tom’s Hardware front page.

4.  Click on File, then go to Save As in order to save your image. A dialog/Save As box pops up, then save the file in a location of your choice.

Snip and Sketch Tool

The last method is the Snip and Sketch Tool. This application appears to be the successor to the basic Snipping tool in “future Windows updates.” It is a cross between a light MS Paint type application where one can draw, write and edit an image along with a capturing tool (hence Snip and Sketch!). There is less flexibility in the way this program captures the image, but more options in the way of editing.

1. Type "Sketch" in the search bar and click on the program to open it, or just hit Enter. Like the snipping tool above, there are a couple of ways to do this. 

2. Press the New button to capture an image. The screen will fade darker and allow you to capture an image as a square or rectangle, depending on how you form the capture. Snip and Sketch doesn’t allow for free-drawing or other methods.

3. Once the image is captured, across the top will be options to edit/draw on the image if you choose. After any edits are completed, the image then needs to be saved.

4.  Press the save/disk icon in the upper right corner to save the image. This will bring up a dialog/save box where you can store the file in a location of your choice, although the program defaults to the Pictures folder.

So which method is best? That will depend on your use case. For me, when I capture images it's either of my screen(s) or the active window, so the first two methods work well. If you want one-stop capture abilities, the Windows + Print Screen method should work well. Both the Snipping Tool and Snip and Sketch are a bit more powerful and along with capturing screenshots, you can edit the image further. The latter application allows writing and highlighting as well and is good to point out details in the images.

One of these methods should work well for most users and scenarios to capture screenshots. There are more ways than just these methods (including third-party software) to take and edit screenshots, but the above methods are the most common and should suffice for the vast majority of screen-capturing use cases in Windows 10.

Image Credits: Tom's Hardware

Joe Shields
Motherboard Reviewer

Joe Shields is a Freelance writer for Tom’s Hardware US. He reviews motherboards.