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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!

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