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!

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Comments 45 comments

garywhoward 4 years ago

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 4 years ago

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

Roman 4 years ago

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

jo 5 years ago

hey where is the file location?

sohaib 5 years ago

i have a spanish keyboard where is prt scn?

Jake 5 years ago

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,.

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manthy 5 years ago from Alabama,USA

Cool - I needed to know that

Xaraz 5 years ago

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

PcFix2011 6 years ago

really good stuff.

shafqat cerbeerda 6 years ago

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 6 years ago

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

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dosburros 6 years ago

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

amin bvbcvcvxc 6 years ago

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 6 years ago

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!

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tpe 6 years ago

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 6 years ago

thanks new it was something stupid like that

gulam yaseen96 6 years ago

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 6 years ago

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

asiya77 6 years ago

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

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alertswiftreview 6 years ago from USA

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

nick 6 years ago

Thanks a lot Kathryn,

Very much appreciated


profile image 6 years ago from bear, de, 19701

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.

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Chin chin 6 years ago from Philippines

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

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shoppingqueen 6 years ago

I use Snagit and it works great.

BMG profile image

BMG 6 years ago from timor laste

i really like this hub..thanks.

Arie Rizky Dharmawan 6 years ago

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.

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Migodden 6 years ago from Canada Ontario

Summarized : "Prt Scr"

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How to - Answers 6 years ago from Ireland

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 6 years ago

why dont u use camstasia its really good

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adorababy 6 years ago from Syracuse, NY

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

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Bibleseo 7 years ago

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

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jamesmoralde 7 years ago from Florida, USA

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

great hub!

Scott 7 years ago

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.

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couponalbum 7 years ago from Sunnyvale, CA

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

KMST profile image

KMST 7 years ago from Dhaka, Bangladesh

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

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johnr54 7 years ago from Texas

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

Andy 7 years ago

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 profile image

emievil 7 years ago from Philippines

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 7 years ago

Thank you, very easy, clear directions

Satnam 7 years ago

Thanks, easy to follow instructions

Dee 7 years ago

Thank you, very helpful!!...

Jill 7 years ago

Excellent...extremely helpful :)

Rob J 8 years ago

Worked Great!!!

Denise  8 years ago

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

Very simple and usefull explanation!!!

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Raven King 8 years ago from Cabin Fever

Good stuff!

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