Taking screenshots in Windows has always been fun, especially in Windows Vista and 7, which included the new Snipping Tool. Basically, since Vista, there have been two ways to take screenshots on Windows without third-party software: using keyboard shortcuts or using the Snipping Tool.
Before Windows 7, it was very difficult to take screenshots of the entire screen or even specific areas of the screen. Everything is much simpler in Windows 10, and there are several ways to get the perfect screenshot effortlessly. In this article, I will go over all the different methods. I’ll also briefly explain below how best to take screenshots of the Windows boot screen.
Also, be sure to check out my posts on how to take screenshots with OneNote and how to take screenshots in OS X.
The usual suspects
Don’t worry, good old PrtScr and Alt + PrtScr still work on Windows 10. You can use PrtScr on the desktop or in the Windows Store app and it will take a screenshot of the entire screen and save it to the clipboard. Alt + PrtScr will take a screenshot of the active window, even if that window is a Windows Store app.
If you are using a laptop, you may have to use a slightly different keyboard shortcut: Alt + Fn + PrtScr.
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Windows Key + PrtScr
Windows key + PrtScr
Windows 8/10 also adds a new keyboard shortcut – Windows Key + PrtScr. It’s a nifty little shortcut that captures the entire screen and automatically saves it to the Pictures folder under Screenshots. It saves the file as a PNG file.
If you only click PrtScr, it will copy the entire screen to the clipboard, but not save the image to a file. Again, on a laptop, you may have to press Windows + Ctrl + PrtScr or Windows + Fn + PrtScr.
Windows + Shift + S
Windows + Shift + S
In newer versions of Windows 10, you can quickly take a screenshot of a portion of the screen by pressing the Windows + SHIFT + S keys. The screen turns white and the cursor turns into a crosshair.
Then you can click and drag and select the area you want to save to the clipboard. Then you can paste the screenshot into any application.
The crop tool in Windows 10 is pretty much the same as in previous versions of Windows. To open the Snipping Tool in Windows 10, simply go to the Start screen and start typing snipping. You can choose from four options for taking a screenshot: freehand, rectangular, windowed, and full screen.
In Windows 8, you can take screenshots of apps from the Store by first opening the Snipping Tool and then returning and opening your app from the Store. While in the Store app, press CTRL + PrtScr. Windows 8 will quickly switch back to the desktop where you have the cropping tool open, then switch back to the Store app with the screen overlay. You can now start filming whichever option you choose.
Note that if Windows 8 doesn’t automatically switch you back to the Store app, you can press Windows Key + TAB to return there. You won’t have this problem on Windows 10, because Store apps now open in Windows like regular programs and it’s much easier to screen capture. Also read my post on how to create context menus with the Snipping Tool.
Windows boot screen
If you want to capture something on the screen before Windows boots up, it’s nearly impossible unless you take out your camera and start taking photos. There are no shortcuts for taking screenshots of boot screens, BIOS, etc.
So how do some people take great screenshots that aren’t captured by a camera? Screenshots can be taken using virtual machines. The virtual machine boots into the host operating system, so the entire boot process is visible. I won’t go into details about virtual machines, but you can read my previous posts on how to use VirtualBox, how to enable Hyper-V, and how to use VMWare Fusion
These are three different programs that you can use to create virtual machines. VirtualBox is free and open source, so I recommend using it. Hyper-V is also free, but a little more difficult to use. VMWare probably has the best tools, but it costs decent money. Enjoy!