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How To Take In Game Screenshots In Windows 7

Updated on January 17, 2011

Windows 7 is wonderful in many respects. In others it has all the ease of a small scared ferret. This is especially true when it comes to taking in game screen shots. A great many people have has issues attempting to capture screens in full screen games and this has lead to many heated online discussions about the general merit of Microsoft and the parentage of gamers who can't get print screen to work. This piece contains a fix for the broken print screen function.

'Print Screen' Is Broken In Windows 7

You'd be forgiven for thinking this because although it technically isn't broken, it has no qualms about acting as if it is. Frustratingly, the Print Screen button will happily take pictures of anything on your desktop, but when it comes to pc games, it stops working entirely, aside from breaking the 'esc' button.

I have no idea who at Microsoft decided it might be a great idea to have Print Screen not only not work in full screen games, but actually break some of their functions. It would appear in most cases that Aero is the culprit to blame in all this.


This isn't exactly simple, but it will work. First of all, you need to access the game properties. You can usually do this by right clicking on the game shortcut. This will bring up a window full of despair and pain. Navigate to the 'Compatibility' tab and click the tick button next to 'Disable Desktop Composition'.

When you first run your game, Windows 7 might throw a bit of a self righteous fit about the game 'not working to graphic standards' or some such rubbish, but it will work. Once your game is loaded and to the point where you want to take a screen shot, simply press Alt + Print Screen.

You should now have a game screenshot in your clipboard, ready for pasting to Paint or any other image manipulation program you care to use. If that process didn't work, try restarting your computer once. I had to perform a restart before whatever madness had ensued in my system cleared itself and I was granted the power of in game screenies.

To Recap:

  • Right Click On Game Icon (or desktop shortcut) > Properties > Compatibility > 'Disable Desktop Composition'
  • Alt + Print Screen

Snipping with the Snipping Tool

Microsoft introduced the snipping tool in much the same way a kindly old aunt might gift a healthy middle aged man some depends. The snipping tool does have its uses, perhaps you want to spend ten times as long as you need to getting a screenshot, or perhaps you only want to share part of your screen and you're incapable of using the 'Crop' function which now comes standard in Paint.

There really is absolutely no reason to ever use the snipping tool, but it's there regardless, like a fourth wheel on your tricycle. It won't work in full screen games, so there's no point trying.


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