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How to Do a Screen Capture on a PC

Updated on October 30, 2012

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!


Submit a Comment

  • profile image

    garywhoward 5 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?

  • profile image

    Kelly 5 years ago

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

  • profile image

    Roman 5 years ago

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

  • profile image

    jo 6 years ago

    hey where is the file location?

  • profile image

    sohaib 6 years ago

    i have a spanish keyboard where is prt scn?

  • profile image

    Jake 6 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,.

  • manthy profile image

    Mark 6 years ago from Alabama,USA

    Cool - I needed to know that

  • profile image

    Xaraz 6 years ago

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

  • profile image

    PcFix2011 7 years ago

    really good stuff.

  • profile image

    shafqat cerbeerda 7 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.



  • profile image

    Saimon 7 years ago

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

  • dosburros profile image

    dosburros 7 years ago

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

  • profile image

    amin bvbcvcvxc 7 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.

  • profile image

    ajmal bvvccccx 7 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!

  • profile image

    tpe 7 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.

  • profile image

    Bryan Grant photography 7 years ago

    thanks new it was something stupid like that

  • profile image

    gulam yaseen96 7 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.

  • profile image

    muhammad yamin 7 years ago

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

  • profile image

    asiya77 7 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

  • alertswiftreview profile image

    alertswiftreview 7 years ago from USA

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

  • profile image

    nick 7 years ago

    Thanks a lot Kathryn,

    Very much appreciated


  • profile image 7 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.

  • Chin chin profile image

    Chin chin 7 years ago from Philippines

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

  • shoppingqueen profile image

    shoppingqueen 7 years ago

    I use Snagit and it works great.

  • BMG profile image

    BMG 7 years ago from timor laste

    i really like this hub..thanks.

  • profile image

    Arie Rizky Dharmawan 7 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.

  • Migodden profile image

    Migodden 7 years ago from Canada Ontario

    Summarized : "Prt Scr"

  • How to - Answers profile image

    L M Reid 7 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?

  • profile image

    Gaurav 7 years ago

    why dont u use camstasia its really good

  • adorababy profile image

    adorababy 7 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.

  • Bibleseo profile image

    Bibleseo 7 years ago

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

  • jamesmoralde profile image

    jamesmoralde 7 years ago from Florida, USA

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

    great hub!

  • profile image

    Scott 8 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.

  • couponalbum profile image

    couponalbum 8 years ago from Sunnyvale, CA

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

  • KMST profile image

    KMST 8 years ago from Dhaka, Bangladesh

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

  • johnr54 profile image

    Joanie Ruppel 8 years ago from Texas

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

  • profile image

    Andy 8 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 8 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!

  • profile image

    Sophia Peterson 8 years ago

    Thank you, very easy, clear directions

  • profile image

    Satnam 8 years ago

    Thanks, easy to follow instructions

  • profile image

    Dee 8 years ago

    Thank you, very helpful!!...

  • profile image

    Jill 8 years ago

    Excellent...extremely helpful :)

  • profile image

    Rob J 9 years ago

    Worked Great!!!

  • profile image

    Denise  9 years ago

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

    Very simple and usefull explanation!!!

  • Raven King profile image

    Raven King 9 years ago from Cabin Fever

    Good stuff!