Easy Screenshots in Windows

screen shots

Most people don’t know that they can take a screen shot of their PC screen. Windows has a Print Screen feature that works two ways. In the upper right corner of most keyboards, you will see a key labeled: Print Screen or Prt Scr. Pressing this key takes a snapshot of everything on your screen (except usually the mouse curser). Additionally, if you press Alt-Print Screen, you will take a snapshot of the current Window in focus. So if you have multiple Windows open on the screen, the one you were just using before you pressed Alt-Print Screen would be the one that gets the screen shot.

But just by pressing the key, you would think that nothing has happened because you don’t really see anything happen. After pressing the key, the contents of your screen are copied to your clipboard. So, after pressing Print Screen, if you open a graphics or rich text editing program such as Photoshop, Word or Wordpad and press Ctrl V or Edit|Paste, your screen shot will be pasted into it.

All of that is a little cumbersome.

There is an easier and more comprehensive way of taking useful screenshots.

There is a free, open source program called Greenshot. Greenshot installs in Windows and hangs out in Windows Taskbar just waiting for you to use it. It basically adds new functionality to your Print Screen key.

After installing and activating Greenshot, when you press the Print Screen key, you will get a crosshair on your screen that you can move around and select any portion of the screen that you want to copy. Once you have selected what you want and release the mouse button, you will hear a ‘camera snapshot’ sound and the Greenshot program window will open up with your copied screen shot contents.

Greenshot allows you to do many things with your screen shot including copy it to the clipboard, or save it as an image file to a specific folder. And if you press Alt-Print Screen, your current Window in focus will open in the Greenshot program – instead of getting the crosshair to make a selection.

I particularly use it a lot for selecting proper colors for Photoshop and website design. And it’s completely invaluable if you create any type of documentation for software or the web.  I also use it a lot for copying screen shots to insert into emails.

The response from every client that I’ve installed it for has been, “How have I ever lived without this?!!” And for every additional PC I’ve installed for them, the first thing they tell me is not to forget to install Greenshot.

Try it. You’ll be hooked.

(Windows 7, 8 & 10 have an app called Snipping Tool which has less functionality. I prefer Greenshot because it integrates with the PrtScr key and is always immediately available, and it offers the ability to draw objects such as boxes, crop, obfuscate (pixelate sensitive information), and add text (with the ability to change font and size).)