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How to Do a Screen Capture on a PC

Melanie is a tech YouTuber who loves social media and is an expert on internet culture. She also runs a YouTube channel: The Curious Coder.

How did I do that? Easy! I'll show you!

How did I do that? Easy! I'll show you!

A screenshot can be incredibly helpful if you're having computer problems and you want to show someone what's going on.

Screenshots can also be an amazing tool for showing off things that show up on your computer screen (ie. something cool that happened in an online game.) Another use for a screenshot is to have perfect pictures for computer tutorials.

Some people use screenshot software, but it's completely unnecessary and can be unsafe (most of this type of software comes packaged with other junk software like browser toolbars.)

This guide will show you, step-by-step, how to capture a screenshot and how to save it as an image without using any software other than what Microsoft provides in Windows.

Note: I used Windows XP to create this guide, but this will also work in later versions of Windows. Let's get started!

Keyboard Shortcut: Screenshot

Press Print Scr on the upper right-hand side of your keyboard (circled in green.)

Press Print Scr on the upper right-hand side of your keyboard (circled in green.)

How to Take Screenshot

You will need:

  • Microsoft Paint
  • A keyboard
  • Something you want to take a screenshot of

To take a screenshot of your current screen, you'll want to press "Print Scr" (this stands for Print Screen) on your keyboard.

Congrats! You've taken a screenshot! Right now, it's temporarily saved in your clipboard, so now you'll have to save it somewhere so you don't lose it.

Keyboard Shortcut: Paste

Hold CTRL (circled in red) and press the letter V (circled in green) to paste a screenshot into Paint.

Hold CTRL (circled in red) and press the letter V (circled in green) to paste a screenshot into Paint.

Quick Tip!

Remember to crop your screenshot if it contains sensitive or embarrassing information. You can do this right in Paint!

How to Save a Screenshot

Open Paint. You can do this by clicking Start (in the lower left-hand corner), then click "All Programs", click "Accessories", and then click "Paint."

Alternatively, you can just hit the letter 'R' while holding down the Windows key. This will bring up the Run window. In this window, type "mspaint" (without the quotes) and click "OK."

Once Paint is open, you'll want to paste your screenshot. You can't do this by right clicking and selecting "paste" as you usually would, so you'll have to use the keyboard shortcut for this.

Click in the white "drawing" area of Paint to ensure Paint is targeted. Then, hold the CTRL button and hit the letter "v." Paint should now show the screenshot.

To save the image, click "File" in the upper left-hand corner. Then, click "Save As..." in the drop-down menu.

  • A window called "Save As" will pop up. Select where you would like to save your image using the buttons to the left (or the drop-down menu next to the words "Save in:".)
  • Name your file. Choose a name that will remind you what the image is, such as pic_of_desktop.jpg.
  • Select the file type under "save as type." I personally prefer .PNG or .JPG, they're easier to work with on the Internet (some free image hosting sites don't allow .GIF or .BMP files.)
  • Click "Save." You're all done!

Now you know how to capture your screen!


Eugene Brennan from Ireland on July 24, 2012:

This is a very useful hub Melanie! I am old enough to remember DOS when PRTSC actually printed a hardcopy on a printer! We didn't have the luxury of clipboards then!

cardelean from Michigan on July 14, 2012:

This is an incredibly useful hub and could have used this in the not so distant past! :) I will be sharing this info with my mom who seems to still be 'challenged' in this area! :P

Robin Edmondson from San Francisco on July 12, 2012:

This is so useful. I don't use a PC any longer, but I will know where to send someone if they do and need this skill! Thanks!

whackypc on July 12, 2012:

Scroll to Continue

Thanks for sharing, i know about the printscreen capture for almost two years now, but didn't know how to convert it into picture, recently i learned that pasting it into PAINT or PICASA will help. So happy to leearn it, in fact i used the features to give a detailed explanation of my new hub. Thanks for sharing this.

India Arnold from Northern, California on July 10, 2012:

Great lesson for PC users! On a MAC this is a very simple task, but on a PC it takes a pinch of know-how. You make it really easy to complete a PC screen capture! Very helpful read.


Cynthia Calhoun from Western NC on July 09, 2012:

Cool! I knew how to do them, temporarily forgot, but you refreshed my memory. Hehe. You're great with these technical hubs. :)

Kieran Gracie on July 09, 2012:

Another very useful Hub. Thank you, melbel. Voted up, useful and shared. And bookmarked for future use!

Terrye Toombs from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. on July 08, 2012:

Another homerun, Mel! Excellent hub, well worth bookmarking. Thank you! VUM!

Sondra from Neverland on July 08, 2012:

Melbel this is very useful info! I have had several instances where I wanted to do a screen shot and I just couldn't figure it out. Now Im going to practice practice practice until Im perfect at it!

deergha from ...... a place beyond now and beyond here !!! on July 08, 2012:

nice hub ...hope to use it successfully. informative as well. voted up

Teresa Davis from Moscow, Texas on July 08, 2012:

Ok on my keyboard I had to press both the fn key with the prt sc just in case anyone else has a keyboard like mine..I acutally never knew how to do this until your hub and it made me begin to search on how to do this on my keyboard...thanks :-)

Mike Russo from Placentia California on July 08, 2012:

I use a program called Snagit. It will capture anything that is on the screen and then will allow you to edit, enhance and save it in many formats. Thanks for this article, voting up, useful, and sharing.

Paul Richard Kuehn from Udorn City, Thailand on July 08, 2012:

Thanks for the tutorial melbel. This is a very useful hub for anyone who is not very computer savvy or afraid to try to do new things like me. I guess that's what happens when you get older and feel overwhelmed by all of the applications available to you on the computer. Voted up and sharing.

diogenes on July 08, 2012:

Clearly and logically explained. I will be using this in the future with an upcoming project.

You have made the complex become easy


Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on July 08, 2012:

Thanks for this wonderful tutorial melbel. If I need to capture a part of the screen what do I do then?

Voted as useful.

Life Under Construction from Neverland on July 08, 2012:

you can also use Snipping Tool to capture your whole desktop,part only or any part or anything else on the screen,,you don't have to edit it on paint. Snipping Tool works perfect, like screen capture but more time-saver, it converts automatically the file to JPEG format. really helpful especially you want only a portion of the screen or the whole. saves time :)

just click snipping tool..then drag the your arrow to create a square, then voila! that's you picture.

Mike Pugh from New York City on July 08, 2012:

Thanks Melbel for this cool tutorial hub, I learned this one day when I was chatting in a video chat session with some computer geeks, and I'm one myself so I was blown away for the fact that I didn't know that cool trick.

On my desktop I only have to press the print screen button, and your instruction work fine after that, and on my laptops your info works perfectly, so great job for writing such a cool and useful hub.

I did learn something new here with that windows button trick though I must admit, and now I will explorer a bit more as to what all it can do, because I really never cared for using it at all.

Awesome hub voted up and out!

Ashish Joshi from India on July 08, 2012:

Hey, thanks foo this...I've seen many hubs displaying relevant screenshots...and I also wanted to know how that is done. Thankfully I visited your page.

Very I know.

'up' , 'useful', 'interesting' and shared...

Ghost32 on July 08, 2012:


No, no, not laughing at your Hub. Laughing at myself. Not ever having figured out how to do this (though I do have Paint on my computer), I've been "cheating" for years--just take a digital photo of the screen with the camera that's always in a case on my hip. Then load the picture into the computer, and...done!

Your way would certainly be more elegant!

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on July 07, 2012:

Thanks, melbel. This was very useful as I've been wondering how to do this. Is it possible to save this shot in a pictures folder or does it have to be 'Paint?'

Voted up, useful and socially shared.

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