If you’ve ever read any of my posts on this blog, you probably know that I use a lot of screenshots to help explain things. I used them when I’m working in Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, Camera Raw as well as when I’m working in Windows. Currently, I have Windows 10 installed, so that’s the operating system I take the screenshots with.
Screenshots are helpful in many different situations. For me, it’s blogging. For others, it may be to record an event or to save something to send to friends. Whatever the reason, it’s super helpful to know how to take screenshots and to have awareness of the various options for doing so.
In today’s post, I’d like to cover four of the best methods I know for taking screenshots with Windows 10. I’ll go from the most basic “everything” shot to the more refined “just the active window” shot. I’ll even show you how to crop an area of your screen and save that area. Each of these methods has their advantages, so I’m excited to share them with you.
How To Take a “Whole Screen” Screenshot
This is the method I’ve been using for years. It works well. And since I use Photoshop for all my graphical and photographic editing, I can paste whatever it is I capture right into that and manipulate from there. To take a capture of an entire screen, simply press the PrtScrn button on your keyboard. You may need to press the Ctrl+PrtScrn keys together for this to work.
When you do this, Windows stores the screen capture in its clipboard. From there, you can paste it wherever you’d like to. Again, I create a new file in Photoshop and use Ctrl+V to paste it there.
Here’s a sample of a partial photo opened in Windows’ built in photo viewer app. Notice the blue background of my desktop in the capture.
Remember, since this capture is only copied to your internal clipboard, it will eventually disappear as you use the Copy function more during the day.
How To Save a Screenshot as a File
Would you like to skip the editing part of saving screenshots? Well, there’s an easy method for doing that. If you press the Windows+PrtScrn buttons together, Windows will save the entire screen area to your Pictures > Screenshots folder as a PNG file. Take a look.
Windows will save the file as “Screenshot…png.” This is perfect if you just want to quickly save a screen capture and email it to someone or use it for some other purpose. You can’t get easier than this.
How To Take a Capture of Only the Active Window
Let’s say you have multiple windows open and you want to grab a screenshot of only the active one. Well, accomplishing this is just as easy as the previous two methods. All you need to do is to press the Alt+PrtScrn buttons on your keyboard together and that’s it. This method is somewhat similar to the first method in that Windows copies this screen capture to its clipboard. You’ll need to paste it into an application to edit it or to save it out.
Pretty cool, huh?
A Special Message For Laptop Users
If you’re working on a laptop with an Fn key, you may need to press that key as well as the previous keys I outlines in the sections above. So, it would be something like Fn+PrtScrn for the first one, Fn+Windows+PrtScrn for the second one and Fn+Alt+PrtScrn for the third one.
How To Take a Cropped Screen Capture
If you have an interest in skipping all the other fluff that’s opened in your computer and would like to take a capture of just a specific area of your screen, a new feature in Windows 10 can help you out. If you press the Windows+Shift+S keys on your keyboard, you’ll see a semi-transparent white overlay appear on your screen. From there, if you click and drag your mouse pointer, you’ll be able to “crop out” any area of your screen you wish.
When you click and drag your mouse pointer and then let go, Windows 10 will copy your cropped area to the clipboard. From there, you’ll need to paste it (Ctrl+V) to an image editing application. I did this and here is the result. I just wanted a sliver of the photo I had open.
By far, this is my favorite. It’s pretty versatile.
I hope I clearly explained how to go about taking different types of screen captures on your Windows computer. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this post, please let me know in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!