How to Capture A Screenshot

[ad]Hi Elizabeth,

I love your website and think it’s the best one for learning the computer, so keep it up. I have told all the people I know that your site is the best for whatever help they need!

What I want to know is that I have a key that says “Print Screen”, but it doesn’t work. Is there anyway I can get it to work? I have Window Vista.

Any help you can give me would be great, Stormy

Dear Stormy,

Back in the days of DOS (before Microsoft came out with Windows) the print screen button on your keyboard did just what the button says, it took a screen capture, and sent that image of what was on your screen directly to the printer.

Over time, however, the function of the “Print Screen” key changed from automatically printing your screen caputure, to a function of capturing the screen on the clipboard, which gives you the freedom to choose exactly what it is you want to do with the image.

Because the “Print Screen” button only captures a screen shot, but doesn’t print it, there is no visual results when pressing the key.

I will give you instructions for how to capture a screenshot with the Print Screen key, and then how to either print or save your screenshot capture.

1. When you want to do a screen capture, press the “Print Screen” button on your keyboard.

2. Open your favorite image program. I like to use Irfanview at: but you don’t have to download a program if you don’t want to. Every version of Microsoft Windows comes with Microsoft Paint in the “Accessories” folder of the start menu.

3. In your image program, click on “Edit” in the menu bar, then “Paste”. This will paste your screenshot capture into the program.

4. Once you have pasted the screen capture into your image program, you can either save it, or print it (or both) using the save and print commands in the menus.


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    • cindym
    • July 14, 2012

    I hold the “Alt” key down while I press the “print screen key”. I find it easier to paste it and save in my Word program and then save it in My Documents. It is easy to email that way if you want to pass it along to someone. I also create training manuals this way by taking screen shots of a page in a computer program and then I can type in my own information or instructions as to what to do with this particular page. It is so much easier for people to see what the computer screen looks like while they are away from the computer and they also have room to write their own notes.

    • ron007
    • July 14, 2012

    Print Screen is a really “blunt tool”. There are many free and paid tools that enhance it. Google “Screen Capture”.

    The tools will typically allow you to specify what you capture: whole screen, application window, dialog box, a selected (click and drag) area of screen etc.

    Some will let you edit the captures, adding comments and pointers and highlighting

    I use a free tool called FastStone Capture, but there are many others.

    • whitekat1964
    • July 15, 2012


    I use screenshot capture all the time and it works great. However, I use three monitors at work, so a screenshot capture is pretty big! If you use Alt + Print Screen, then it only captures the active window. Then you can paste like above, or you can paste it into an email (in Outlook) or into a document. Works great when you get an error message and you need to send it to someone so they can help troubleshoot your problem.


    • voxpop
    • December 10, 2012

    i tried saving a print screen picture of my desktop and went to PAINT hit EDIT and PASTE was grayed out.
    any thoughts?
    firefox v17.01

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