MS Windows Built-in Screen Capture

Here is one of my most used Windows secrets. Often I need a “screen capture” – a picture of what is on some part (or all) my computer screen. Now there are several popular commercial programs (SnagIt, HyperSnap), as well as shareware and free software that will do this. But for something quick and easy I use what is already built in to Windows 2000, XP and Vista.

SHFT_PRTSCRN.jpgIf I need to capture my entire screen or desktop, I simply hold down on my left SHIFT key and press the PRINT SCREEN key on my keyboard. For just a capture of the active window, do left ALT + PRINT SCREEN instead. At first it may seem that nothing happened, but ALT_PRTSCRN.jpgWindows took a picture of your desktop or active window and saved it onto your Clipboard (temporary storage in Windows which can only hold the last thing – text, graphic, etc. – you copied). After my capture I open the venerable Paint program (go to Programs – Accessories). With Paint open, press CNTRL+V (or EDIT then PASTE in Paint program) to paste the Clipboard’s image into Paint.

Sound confusing? Just try it. ALT + PRINT SCREEN this window you are reading now, open Paint and type CNTRL+V to paste the captured screen image into Paint. Now you can do some simple editing, erasing or whatever you wish on the image. Finally, select SAVE AS in Paint to save as a JPG, GIF, PNG, TIF or BMP file in Windows XP. File formats are somewhat more limited in older Windows versions.

Now you can place the graphic you saved into a document, email, web page, or other application. I have used this feature to illustrate articles for this website, to capture a webpage, or turn something I am working on in another application into a quick graphic. Click the images below to see a few examples.


One Response to “MS Windows Built-in Screen Capture”

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