How to Take a Screen Shot On Your Windows Computer

Snipping Tool Options Menu


Taking a screen shot in Windows has always been a pain.  The only option for copying your screen was to use the “Print Screen” button on your keyboard and paste that image into paint.  Editing after that was extremely painful.

However, Windows Vista and Windows 7 come with a little known tool called the “Snipping Tool”.  Here’s how it works:

  1. Click the Windows icon on the bottom left of your screen and search “Snipping Tool”.
  2. Once you find the program click to open it up.
  3. Click “New” in the small dialog box and you’ll see your screen lighten a little bit and your cursor will turn into a crosshairs symbol.
  4. Click where you want to start your capture and drag to make the capture box however large you want.  If you don’t want to be constrained to capturing a rectangle, click the triangle next to “New” and you’ll see options that allow you to capture any shape, a window, or the entire screen.
  5. Let go of your mouse and the finished screen capture will show up in a small pop up box.
  6. Click the purple save icon at the top and save the file wherever you’d like.

That’s it.  You can now add the image to a document or email it to a friend.

Have you ever used the Snipping Tool?  Are there any other free programs you’d recommend to do a screen capture?  Let us know in the comments.

Jonathan Goldford is Wired Impact’s resident programmer and usability chap. He spends most of his time hunkered down with code working to make websites load faster and work more simply.

6 Comments on “How to Take a Screen Shot On Your Windows Computer

  1. 1 J Gerding March 1, 2011

    I have never used the snipping tool before. Thanks guys you have just cut a step out of the process for me. I have always just hit the print screen button and pasted it into a new document in paint or photoshop then cropped it from there. Thanks for yet again cutting another step out of my day to day processes.

    1. 2 Jonathan Goldford March 1, 2011

      Glad it was helpful. I’d been using print screen for a while and was pretty happy when I realized I could take a small screen shot.

  2. 3 jeffcard September 14, 2016

    I always use acethinker screen grabber online to take screenshot on my computer, it’s an online app, free and easy to use, no need to download or install any third party software, share it here.

    1. 4 Jonathan Goldford September 19, 2016

      Thanks for sharing Jeff. It looks like the tool you’re referring to is paid and only works on Mac, so that’s something for others to keep in mind.

      My screen capture tool of choice these days is Nimbus Screenshot. They have a Chrome extension as well as a desktop app. It’s also free which is always a great perk.

  3. 5 Donna Wayne December 13, 2016

    This is very useful for those who never used Snipping tool. I myself always preferred PaintShop Pro for my screenshots because of the picture quality and how easy it is to use.
    This link might be helpful to see how easy it is to use PaintShop Pro for quality screenshots, and to give it a try yourself. 😉

    1. 6 Jonathan Goldford December 19, 2016

      Thanks for sharing Donna. PaintShop Pro looks like a really nice tool. I would say the biggest downside would be that you have to purchase the software vs. using a free tool like the Windows Snipping Tool. In our office we’re all really enjoying Nimbus Capture, which is free and easy to use. If you’d like, you can learn more about that tool by visiting

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