How to Take Screenshots on Windows (7 Methods with Shortcuts)

Knowing how to screenshot on Windows is one of the most basic and powerful tools every user should be familiar with. Screenshots are essential at work for capturing exact visual evidence, facilitating clear communication, documenting progress, and resolving misunderstandings by providing accurate, unbiased information. So, let’s tell you how to capture screenshots on your Windows computer.

Zight | August 25, 2020 | 10 min read time

Article Last Updated: February 27, 2024

How to Take Screenshots on Windows (7 Methods with Shortcuts)

If you work with a big team, sometimes even a remote one, it becomes imperative to communicate clearly. One of the best ways to do so is by sharing what’s on your screen for all to see. We have talked about how to record your screen, how to make a GIF, and even how to take a screenshot on Mac.

Today, let’s tell you how to take a screenshot on Windows to equip you with more tips on visual communication. Whether you want to document a bug, capture an error message, or share a specific moment in a digital workflow, Windows screenshots offer a visual means to convey complex information.

We discuss seven simple methods, but if you want to know our best recommendation for screenshot capture right now, we say Zight. With this software, you can effortlessly capture the entire screen or select precise screen areas. After capture, you can also edit and annotate your screenshot from the cloud before sharing. More below, so get started with Zight for free!

Here’s how to screenshot on Windows!

1. Using Windows Keyboard Shortcuts

Want the easiest method to take screenshots without leaving your workspace? Here are the different keyboard shortcuts you can use on Windows:

I. The Print Screen Key

The simplest way to take a screenshot in Windows is to use the key made for this function. Most Windows laptops have a button labeled either “Prt Sc” or “PRTSC.” When pressed, it will capture a screenshot of your entire screen.

The Print Screen button can take a screenshot and do 2 things with it:

  1. Copy the screenshot to your clipboard without saving it.
  2. Save the screenshot as a file.

The screenshot will be saved to the clipboard. You can then paste (Ctrl + V) it inside a Word document, for example, or another program that allows you to manipulate and edit the image.

Quick Tip: The Print Screen button varies from keyboard to keyboard. Desktops will sometimes have a standalone Print Screen button, but oftentimes, especially on laptops, the standalone button is embedded as a secondary function within an existing key and to access it, you have to press and hold the “Function” or “Fn” key, then press Print Screen. Also, some laptops, like Lenovo Thinkpad x1 Carbon, might not have the print screen keyboard shortcut. To take a screenshot, you can press the Fn + T keys, then paste the screenshot to your image editor like Paint for further editing.

II. Capture the Entire Screen and Save the Image In the Screenshots Folder

Press the Windows key + print screen key at the same time to capture a screenshot and save it in the Screenshots folder in Pictures. When you press these keys, the screen will dim for a second to indicate successful screen capture.

Quick Tip: To locate the Screenshots folder, open File Explorer and click Pictures. You can also use the Windows key + E keyboard shortcut to open File Explorer and look for Pictures on the navigation panel. In addition, your screenshot will be saved in your OneDrive account if you have it enabled.

Worthy read: Best Windows shortcuts.

III. Capture an Active Window

Click on the specific window you want to capture, then press Alt + PrtScn. The screenshot will be captured and copied to your clipboard. To view or edit it, paste the screenshot on another program like Paint or Word processor, then save it after editing.

2. Use the Snipping Tool

Most Windows computers have the Snipping tool. To open it, type “Snipping Tool” in the search bar and open the app.

To take a screenshot, click New and select the screenshot modes:

  • Free-form snip: allows you to draw any shape with your cursor to capture exactly what you need
  • Rectangular snip: lets you capture a precise rectangular area of your screen. It’s ideal for grabbing sections of websites, documents, or any application, providing a straightforward way to focus on specific content
  • Window snip: lets you select and capture an active window, making it easy to document your work in any program without extra background distractions
  • Full-screen snip: captures everything visible on your screen with a single click

You can also time your screenshot by clicking the Delay button, then select a delay of up to 5 seconds.

Once you capture the screenshot, you can view it from the app and make a few edits, like annotating with a colored pen or highlighter. You can also use an eraser to remove the annotations. If you want to edit or annotate further, click Edit with Paint 3D where you can add shapes, etc.

Save your screen capture by clicking Save Snip.

3. Use the Snip & Sketch Tool

On Windows 10 and above, you can also use the Snip & Sketch tool to capture screenshots. You can type Snip & Sketch in the search bar to locate and open the app or press Windows Key + Shift + S.

When you open the app, your screen will dim, and you can select your best mode:

  • Rectangular snip where you select the area to capture
  • Window snip where you select the precise window to screenshot
  • Free form snip when you draw freehand with your mouse/cursor when selecting the area to capture on your screen
  • Full-screen snip where you capture everything on your screen

The screenshot will be saved to your clipboard, and you may even see a pop-up preview in the bottom right corner of your screen. You can edit your captured screenshot from the Snip & Sketch app. For instance, you can use annotations like touch writing, a ballpoint pen, a pencil, a highlighter, and an eraser to add instructions. The ruler makes it easy to draw lines on some areas to highlight them.

After editing, you can save the screenshot to your computer, or click Share to send it to someone or share via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

4. Use the Xbox Game Bar

Press the Windows key + G to bring up the Game Bar overlay on your screen. It is primarily designed for gaming but can be used to capture screenshots in any application.

Once the Game Bar is open, look for the camera icon, which represents the screenshot function. either click this icon or press Windows + Alt + PrtScn as a shortcut to capture a screenshot of your current window.

After taking the screenshot, a notification will appear, indicating that the screenshot was captured successfully. You can click on this notification to quickly access the screenshot, or find it saved in the Videos/Captures folder in File Explorer. You can also find your screenshots in the Gallery folder in the Game Bar. To do so, click the Widgets Menu, then Gallery.

5. Power + Volume Up

The method of taking screenshots using the Power + Volume Up button combination is specific to Windows devices with a physical hardware layout that includes these buttons, such as the Microsoft Surface series of tablets and laptops. Here’s how to screenshot:

Navigate to the screen or application you want to capture on your device, hold down the Power button and then press the Volume Up button on the side of your device simultaneously.

The screen will dim briefly, indicating that a screenshot has been taken. This method captures the entire screen. The screenshot you’ve just taken will be automatically saved to the Screenshots folder within the Pictures library on your device. You can access this folder through the File Explorer to view, edit, or share your screenshot.

Quick Tip: if you have Surface 3 or earlier, you will need to press the Windows + Volume Down Button instead of the power button.

6. Use the Windows Steps Recorder

The Windows Step Recorder

The Windows Steps Recorder, previously known as the Problem Steps Recorder (PSR), is an incredibly useful tool built into Windows that allows you to capture a series of actions performed on your computer. This tool is especially beneficial for creating step-by-step tutorials or documenting processes in a collaborative environment.

Here’s how you can use it to capture screenshots of different pages effectively:

  1. On some laptops, you won’t find the Steps Recorder directly in the Start menu. Instead, press the Windows key + R to open the Run dialog box, type psr.exe, and press Enter. Alternatively, click Start or Windows + S and type Steps Recorder, then open the app.
  2. Click on the “Start Record” button. The tool will now start documenting every mouse click and keyboard input. Each action you take will be accompanied by a screenshot, ensuring a visual and descriptive documentation of the process.
  3. For additional clarity or to highlight specific details within a step, you can click “Add Comment” during the recording. Select the part of the screen you’re commenting on, and type your explanation or note. This capability is invaluable for emphasizing critical points or providing extra guidance.
  4. After completing the sequence of actions you want to document, click “Stop Record.” The Steps Recorder will prompt you to save the recorded session. In addition, the output is a zipped file containing an MHTML document, which is convenient for sharing and reviewing.
  5. Open the saved file to review the recorded steps, complete with screenshots and descriptive annotations. This document can then be shared with colleagues or used as instructional material.

7. How to Take a Screenshot on Windows Using Zight (Best Method)

Zight (formerly CloudApp) is a free screenshot tool with a ton of features you won’t find in many other free software programs.

This software lets you capture screenshots in seconds, and then edit and share almost instantly, allowing you and your team to visually communicate with ease. Here’s how to use the image capture tool on Windows to capture and edit a screenshot in a few simple steps:

  1. To get started, download and install Zight.
  2. Open the Zight icon in the system tray in the lower right-hand of the Windows desktop and select the “Screenshot” option. You can also take a screenshot by pressing Alt + Shift + 5.
  3. Use your mouse to control the snipping tool and select the area on your screen you wish to record, and once done, the screenshot will be captured.

Two things happen immediately after you capture your screen:

  • The screenshot is saved to your clipboard as a shareable link
  • And the screenshot link automatically opens in your default browser where you can annotate and edit it before sharing

You can choose from a wide range of editing options for your screenshot through the screenshot editor. For starters, markup your image with arrows pointing to important information. Underline or separate elements in the image with lines. Draw on the image with a pen, highlighter, circle, and square tools – or even layer text on top of the image, among other options.

Besides annotating your screenshot, you can also edit it by cropping, zooming, redacting sensitive information, or adding stickers to it.

Now that your screenshot is ready, you can also protect it before sharing. Zight allows you to set your Share settings. Locate Share Your Image, and below it, you might find the default setting to be Anyone with the link can view. If your screenshot includes sensitive information, you want to change this.

Click Edit, and you find share settings like:

  • Anyone with the link can view
  • Anyone with the link and passcode can view
  • Anyone can view in your organization
  • Anyone can edit in your organization
  • Anyone, as long they give their email address can view
  • Only emailed people can view

You can also set when the link expires. To do so, click Advanced Settings under When does this link expire? You can save the link to expire after a certain number of views or set an expiry date. Before sharing, you can also allow reactions and comments on the image to create a better collaborative environment.

The best part about all this? Zight makes it very easy to share your screenshot. All you need to send your recipients is the link, and they can view it on their browser even if they don’t have a Zight account. In addition, you can embed the link in emails, or chat forums on Google Docs, Slack, Asana and more. In addition, you can also track various analytics like the number of views – especially when you want to reach a wide audience or track team engagement.

Quick Tip: Suppose you already took a screenshot with any of the Windows methods we discussed above, but can’t find the right annotation tools to leave the best instructions for your teams. In this case, you can open your Zight dashboard and click Upload. Then locate the screenshot from your File Explorer, upload it to Zight, and annotate it. Then, you can share it as a link, or download it to your computer, too.

Clearly, Zight is powerful screenshot software, but it has a whole lot more to offer…

‍How Zight Can Be Your All-In-One Visual Communication Tool

In addition to our screenshot tool, we bring HD screen and webcam recording, and GIF creation to the cloud in an easy-to-use, enterprise-grade app so you can quickly create and share visual content.

Zight is used by over 3 million people and is trusted by top companies such as Uber, Salesforce, and Adobe. We’ve been ranked by G2 Crowd as one of the top sales enablement tools and we continue to help companies improve communication with all of our solutions.

We believe fast and easy collaboration is a great thing, not only for your bottom line but for your company culture as well. And we make it easy for teams like yours to:

  • Save Time
  • Communicate More Clearly
  • Grab Attention
  • Personalize Content
  • Engage Customers

And so much more.

Discover why Zight (formerly CloudApp) is the best free screenshot software for teams using Windows today.

In Closing

You can only use native apps or a third-party tool to take a screenshot on Windows. Each method comes with simple shortcuts to make the capturing process as painless as possible.

But, if you ask us, we’ll tell you it’s much better to take a screenshot on Windows using a third-party app like Zight. There are many reasons to not use native screenshot apps, including the risk of losing your captures with device change, and the lack of enough editing tools. Zight, on the other hand, gives you all you need for high-quality screenshots, from the Alt + Shift + 5 keyboard shortcut to advanced annotations and security features, and cloud storage.

Want to explore more about third-party apps? We have awesome reads too, including the best Greenshot alternatives, Lightshot alternatives, Fireshot alternatives, Snagit alternatives, and so much more! As you’ll see, not many tools beat Zight for screenshots and screen recordings.

So, get Zight today – it’s your best screenshot tool for Windows!

Create & share screenshots, screen recordings, and GIFs with Zight