Skip to main content

How to Do a Screen Capture on a PC


The screen capture is a neat function that really doesn't get used enough by the average person. It can serve a number of different purposes for both fun and function. On the fun end of things, you can save a conversation that's on your screen in order to go back and look at it later. You can also do regular screen capture shots of a particular part of your computer, such as your desktop, just to have a sort of online scrapbook about what's changed over time on your computer. But the screen capture is more often used for more functional purposes. For example, web writers sometimes find that their content has been stolen and placed online. A screen capture can be done of the work on the site that stole it in case the issue goes to court. That way, even if the thief deletes the material from the site, the proof is there. Other similar situations occur for many professions and legal situation so the screen capture can be a really useful thing to know how to do just in case an issue like that ever comes up in your life.

Actually doing the screen capture is really easy. Here are the steps that you need to take on most PCs to do a simple screen capture:

  1. Access the screen that you want to capture, whether that's your desktop or an Internet page or whatever.
  2. Now look at your keyboard. Find the button that says "prt sc". On some computers, it will say "PrtScn". Either way, it's short for "print screen". It's normally located in the top right corner of your keyboard near the other function buttons on the computer.
  3. Determine whether or not you will also need to use your "shift" key. If your "prt sc" button is a button of its own, you won't. If it's got other functions on it, you might. (Like with other buttons, if "prt sc" is on the top half of the button, it requires "shift" to be accessed.) Try pressing it by itself if you aren't sure. If that doesn't work, you can come back to this step and try adding "alt".
  4. Optional step: If you want to only capture the "active" screen and not the other materials that you may see on your computer at this time, you will hit "alt" before hitting the "prt sc" button.
  5. Once you've pressed "print screen", your computer should have done the screen capture. However, it needs somewhere to put the image that you've capture. You'll need to open your favorite image editing program. Paste the image into the program using any of the paste methods: Ctrl + V, right click and paste or file-paste.
  6. Edit the image in any way that you see fit. This is an option step for screen capture.
  7. Save the file. Name it and store in it such a way that you will be able to find it later. After all, you didn't just capture the image to go ahead and lose it!


garywhoward on December 21, 2012:

I use screen print a lot - it's a good tool - however another pc at work pastes text and not an image. Anyone know why this is?

Kelly on December 17, 2012:

Thank you for your step by step explanation! I really appreciate it!

Roman on June 05, 2012:

on my PC is not working this...what is missing???

jo on January 08, 2012:

hey where is the file location?

sohaib on October 19, 2011:

i have a spanish keyboard where is prt scn?

Jake on August 17, 2011:

MUCH easier on a Mac.... and you can take partial screen shot, you don't have to save it in a program, it is saved to the desktop. Got stuck using windows and screen capture suks,.

Mark from Alabama,USA on June 21, 2011:

Cool - I needed to know that

Xaraz on March 24, 2011:

Scroll to Continue

Nice article. Personally I use GrabOut ( to quickly select a piece of the screen I want to show to someone.

PcFix2011 on January 09, 2011:

really good stuff.

shafqat cerbeerda on December 15, 2010:

Thanks Lymond for your step by step explanation.

I faced the same problem as you have mentioned.

i followed your steps and now I am able to run skies and connect to the phone.



Saimon on December 10, 2010:

What about me,i use Macvide ScreenCap. It’s prog allows you to capture and record video or audio.Try

dosburros on December 08, 2010:

seriously useful information, very clearly presented, nice new skill that only took me 30 seconds to learn!

amin bvbcvcvxc on December 03, 2010:

The GeForce and Quadro cards do need a few hundred watts and many power supplies are too small. A larger power supply did fit in our existing computer, but the card was so large that we had interference. The computer that we built for out purpose works very well with our 1650 x 1024 120Htz Samsung LED/LCD monitor.

It is also worth considering the Zalman 1080p monitor (~$500 USD) that displays and interlaced image that works with passive polarizing glasses and lesser cards.

ajmal bvvccccx on December 03, 2010:

Hi Chris, your existing nVidia graphics card is compatible with the 3D vision kit, the only thing it can't do is 3D movie playback, but it's fine for 3D gaming. Most of the later nVidia GPU's incorporate two processors, so if you are thinking of buying a new GPU you won't actually need two. Have fun!

tpe on November 30, 2010:

I use a software for to make print screen : ScreenHunter.

It is a freeware, good soft and you can define the area you want to capture.

Bryan Grant photography on November 09, 2010:

thanks new it was something stupid like that

gulam yaseen96 on October 31, 2010:

For all the people who are questioning about the controller issue for Project64, I've figured out what is going on. When you open the program, click Options at the top, and make sure that the selection "Controller is Plugged In" is checked. This will enable the program to recognize your keyboard as your controller.

muhammad yamin on October 31, 2010:

Lots of people facing this problems.This article will help and solve this problem.I appreciate your work.Thanks.......

asiya77 on October 29, 2010:

Your computers processor (A.K.A the CPU or Central Processing Unit) is what actually performs all the work. It can calculatate billions of operations per second. The CPU executes program code and returns results to ram and/or hard disk

alertswiftreview from USA on October 21, 2010:

I think doing ALT+prtscn or just CTRL+prtscn button helps to capture your computer screen.

nick on October 19, 2010:

Thanks a lot Kathryn,

Very much appreciated

Nick from bear, de, 19701 on October 14, 2010:

The hub you provided is really amazing and it is very very interesting definitely I will try these steps in capturing a picture from PC.Once again thanks for providing such wonderful information please create these kind of hubs more.

Chin chin from Philippines on September 24, 2010:

Glad I read this. Didn't know about the optional alt function. Thanks.

shoppingqueen on September 07, 2010:

I use Snagit and it works great.

BMG from timor laste on August 14, 2010:

i really like this hub..thanks.

Arie Rizky Dharmawan on August 07, 2010:

Thank you for info. This feature had always been there in the computer, we just sometimes do not carefully look at the keys on the keyboard. hehe. PrtSC also useful for taking photos of a movie.

Migodden from Canada Ontario on August 07, 2010:

Summarized : "Prt Scr"

L M Reid from Ireland on July 03, 2010:

Great hub and useful information thanks, I can use this facility ok but I am only able to save it in a word document. Is the anyway I can save it as a jpeg image?

Gaurav on June 30, 2010:

why dont u use camstasia its really good

adorababy from Syracuse, NY on June 07, 2010:

For one of the replies in this post, if you are using a mac - COMMAND + SHIFT + 4 would do the trick.

Bibleseo on February 11, 2010:

I use print screen for screen capture. And Camstudio for video capture. Good detailed article. thanks.

jamesmoralde from Florida, USA on February 10, 2010:

hi! why not publish a hub about screen capture in MAC... just a suggestion.

great hub!

Scott on December 03, 2009:

I have been looking for a program that has the capability to grab images off of my screen for 5 YEARS!!!!! I had a free one that was very problematic with my computer. I spent 3 minutes trying this out and it works brilliantly. Thanks so much for taking the time to post this very helpful information.

couponalbum from Sunnyvale, CA on December 01, 2009:

Thanks for the HUB !! Good tips ....

KMST from Dhaka, Bangladesh on October 28, 2009:

Only one thing I would add that every where press 'F1' and that is the key of learning.

Joanie Ruppel from Texas on October 26, 2009:

thx I can never remember to save it from the clipboard. Good tips.

Andy on July 24, 2009:

What a pain in the **** this is though. I use a PC at work but i own a mac and i am spending all day today doing screen captures of websites. There is a lot of faffing about where as on a mac you can use a keyboard short cut to either capture the whole screen or bring up a crosshair to select an area and it saves to the desktop as a jpeg instantly. Is there anything like this on a PC?

emievil from Philippines on July 23, 2009:

Thanks for the tips on screen shots. I'm trying to download free softwares to use for the screenshots, but I've been unsuccessful so far in running these softwares. Hopefully, after reading your hub, I can make a go at them again. Thanks!

Sophia Peterson on July 19, 2009:

Thank you, very easy, clear directions

Satnam on July 06, 2009:

Thanks, easy to follow instructions

Dee on June 05, 2009:

Thank you, very helpful!!...

Jill on April 30, 2009:

Excellent...extremely helpful :)

Rob J on January 14, 2009:

Worked Great!!!

Denise on January 09, 2009:

Thank youuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!!!!!!!!!!!

Very simple and usefull explanation!!!

Raven King from Cabin Fever on April 20, 2008:

Good stuff!

Related Articles