Creating Screenshots

What is and Why make a screenshot?

To create a screenshot simply means to produce a graphic of your computer’s screen. The graphic shows how your computer screen looks during a particular moment.

You might want to produce a screenshot to share with a colleague, or perhaps to send to technical support related to a technical problem with a piece of software.

This tip of the week assumes you’ll have a basic image editing program that come with your operating system. On Windows 7, it is the Paint. On Mac OS X, there is no image editing tool with the operating system, though Preview will allow you to resize your image. With either operating system, if you have some other image editing software on your system, you may use that.

Windows 7

The basic command for creating a screenshot in Windows is Ctrl+Print Screen. When the screen you’d like to have a shot of it showing, simply hold the Ctrl key, the press the Print Screen key.


Next, launch the Paint program. When the blank document for Paint appears, hold the Ctrl key, and press the V key. Your screenshot should appear in the document. From here, you can edit your screenshot as you need. After you save it, it will be ready for sending to your favorite colleagues!

Snipping Tool


Windows 7 also ships with the Snipping Tool, which offers more precision and functionality for taking screenshots. The quick instructions are (according to Microsoft):

  1. Open Snipping Tool by clicking the Start button, clicking All Programs, clicking Accessories, and then clicking Snipping Tool.
  2. Click the arrow next to the New button, select a snip type from the menu, and then use your mouse or tablet pen to capture a snip.


Above is my screenshot using the free-form snipping tool. You can read more about the Snipping Tool from Microsoft’s website.  ADDED 24 JAN 2013: Ctrl-Print Screen works under Windows XP, but the Snipping Tool is not available in XP — you’ll need Windows 7 or later for that feature!

Mac OS X

The basic command for creating a screenshot in Mac OS X is command-shift-3. While holding the command () and shift keys, press the 3 key. This will save the screenshot to your desktop.


The command for selecting an area of your screen for a screenshot is command-shift-4. While holding the command and shift keys, press the 4 key. Crosshairs will display, and you can select the area you’d like to capture. This will save the screenshot to your desktop. Below is a screenshot of my desktop showing an icon for my first screenshot!



Yes, iPads can take screenshots, too. Press and hold the Power button, then press the Home button, and release both buttons simultaneously. You should hear a camera shutter sound. The screenshot will be stored in the Photo app, and may be emailed or posted from there.


Android Tablet

How you take a screenshot using an Android tablet depends largely on the type of device you are using. Below is an example from one such tablet.  In the example below, there is an icon on the desktop for creating a screenshot. 


The screenshot is saved in the Gallery app, and may be emailed or posted from there.


In Conclusion

There you have it! Now, taking screenshots are less of a mystery!