A key tool at the heart of our new digital age, the screenshot, screen capture, or "print screen", feature has shaped how we consume digital media. But what is a screenshot, do you need a separate screenshot tool or snipping tool app, and how do you capture screenshots on a Windows desktop, Mac device, iPhone, or Android device?
At its core, a screenshot is a static image or snapshot of your entire screen, capturing what is currently displayed on a computer, smartphone, or other digital device's screen. It serves the purpose of capturing and preserving visual information at a specific moment in time.
Screenshots: Capturing moments in the digital realm, one pixel at a time.
Why Is The Screenshot or Snap Tool Useful?
Each screen shot or screen capture is helpful for sharing information, allowing users to capture and share images of webpages, error messages, fun images, text, or any other screen captures that give useful context.
Most screenshots are full-screen screenshots, and are very useful for troubleshooting purposes as they capture the entire screen. By capturing a screenshot of technical issues, users can document and communicate problems more effectively, making it easier for others to understand and offer assistance.
Once a screenshot is taken, it can be saved as an image file, such as PNG or JPEG, in a desired location, most often in a specific screenshot folder or desktop folder. But you may now ask "how do I screenshot on my PC and mobile device?". Well, below is a comprehensive list of how to screenshot on different devices.
How to Screenshot Windows, Mac, iPhones, and Androids
From the print screen key function to using the snipping tool window, there are many different ways to add to your screenshots folder depending on what device you are on. Here is a full list of every major device you may want to use a screenshot tool with, whether it's an in-built screenshot app or a third-party app.
How To Screenshot on PC, Laptop, and Computer Devices
When it comes to computers, the screenshot tool is almost as old as the software itself, and along with many different in-screen ways to capture the entire screen, there are also many different shortcuts such as the print screen button. Whether on a Mac or a Windows device, here is how to take a full-screen screenshot or full-screen capture.
How To Take a Screenshot on a Mac
When taking screenshots on a MacBook, there are many different screen capture shortcuts, and depending on if you want to capture the entire screen or specific elements the easiest way is to use the following keyboard shortcuts:
- To capture the whole screen: Press Shift + Command + 3. The screenshot will be saved as a file on your desktop.
- To capture a selected portion of the screen: Press Shift + Command + 4. The cursor will change to a crosshair, allowing you to click and rectangular snip drag to select the area you want to capture. This image will automatically save to your desktop.
- Capture a specific window or menu: Press Shift + Command + 4. The cursor will change to a crosshair. Press the Spacebar. The cursor will turn into a camera icon. Move the camera icon over the window or menu you want to capture and click on it. The screenshot of the window or menu will be saved as a file on your desktop.
If you truly want to know how to screenshot on Mac, for those on MacOS Mojave (10.14) or later, you can use the following shortcuts to take a screenshot with more options:
- To capture a portion of the screen and open it in Markup: Press Shift + Command + 5. A screenshot toolbar will appear at the bottom of the screen. You can choose options like capturing a selected portion, capturing the entire screen, or taking a screen recording. After capturing, the screenshot or screen record will open in Markup for further editing.
- To capture a specific window or menu using the screenshot toolbar: Press Shift + Command + 5 to bring up the screenshot toolbar. Click on the "Capture Selected Window" or "Capture Menu" options in the toolbar. The cursor will change, and you can select the window or menu you want to full-screen snip capture.
Remember, these keyboard shortcuts are for MacBook devices running macOS. If you have a different version of macOS, the shortcuts might vary slightly.
Print Screen Mac? How To Print Screen on Mac
Unfortunately, there is no single print screen key on Mac or other Apple devices. You can, however, achieve the same thing as a print screen key by pressing Shift + Command + 3 at the same time to take a screen capture of the entire screen.
How To Take A Screenshot on Windows 7, 8, 10 & 11
To take screenshots on a Windows computer, there are several methods you can use. All of these ways to screenshot on a PC screen should be applicable across Windows 7, 8, 10, and 11:
- To capture the entire screen: Press the (PrtScn) Print Screen key on your keyboard. This keyboard shortcut gets an image of your screen automatically saved to the clipboard, allowing you to easily insert images into Microsoft Word or your pictures folder.
- Capture the active window: Press Alt + Print Screen (PrtScn) on your keyboard. This captures a screenshot of the currently active window and saves it to the clipboard. Again, you can paste it into an image editing program and save it. Xbox game bar
How to Use the Snipping Tool Shortcut, Instead of Print Screen Windows Shortcut
If you need more customization in your screenshots, the Windows snipping tool is an excellent feature to use. To use the Window Snip Tool, search for "Snipping Tool" in the Windows Start menu. Open the Snipping Tool application and click on "New" to capture a screenshot. You can select the area you want to capture using different snipping modes (rectangular, free-form snip draw, window, or full-screen). After capturing, you can annotate or save the screenshot.
On Windows 10 and later, you can also use the Snip & Sketch tool. To access this, press Windows key + Shift + S on your keyboard. The screen will dim, and the Snip & Sketch tool will appear at the top of the screen. You can choose from different snipping options (rectangular, free-form, window, or full-screen) and capture the screenshot. It will be copied to the clipboard, and you can paste it into an image editing program to save it.
Screenshotting For Gamers on PC
If you want to capture an image of your screen while gaming, your best bet is often to use the Windows Game Bar (for capturing games and apps). Simply press the Windows key (key with the Windows logo on) + G to open the Windows Game Bar.
Next, click on the camera icon to capture a screenshot of the active particular window or game. You can access the screenshot from the Game Bar's Captures tab.
These methods should cover most Windows computers and versions, allowing you to use that keyboard shortcut Windows magic to capture your screen whenever you need. You can then use file explorer to find your screenshots or save them in your preferred folders.
How To Screenshot on Windows Vista
Although a much earlier OS, Windows Vista functions very similarly to newer versions of Windows, and you can still use the print screen (PrtScn) key on your keyboard to capture a screenshot of the entire screen. This print scrn button will automatically save your screenshots to the clipboard, where you can paste them as a jpg file or a png file.
To capture any specific active window, you will need to press Alt + Print Screen (PrtScn) on your keyboard. This captures a screenshot of the currently active window and saves it to the clipboard.
Unfortunately, as an older version of Windows, Windows Vista does not include the Snipping Tool by default. You may, however, be in luck as some versions may have it. You can check if it's available by searching for "Snipping Tool" in the Start menu dialogue box.
If present, select "Snipping Tool", click "New," and select the area you want to capture. You can then annotate or save the screenshot.
How To Screenshot on Mobile Devices and other Platforms
While the ability to take a screenshot and the snipping tool may have started on computers, these days people need to take a screenshot on many different devices, from phones and tablets to gaming consoles. Here is everything you need to know about how to take a screenshot on different devices.
How To Screenshot on Android Devices
On Android devices, there are a few different methods to take screenshots, depending on the device model and Android version. Here are some common ways to capture screenshots on Android:
How to Take a Screenshot on Android Via the Physical Buttons Method
One of the most common and easiest ways to take a screenshot on Android devices is to press and hold the Power button and the Volume Down button simultaneously until you see a visual indication that a screenshot has been taken.
This method works on most Android devices, including Samsung, Google Pixel, and many others.
How to Take a Screenshot on Android Via the Power Menu Method
On certain Android devices running Android 11 or later, you can take a screenshot by pressing and holding the Power button to open the power menu.
On this mini menu, you should be able to manually select "Screenshot" or "Take screenshot", which will cause the mini menu to minimise and screen capture to be taken of your screen, automatically saved to your photos or screenshots folder.
How to Take a Screenshot on Android Via the Quick Settings Method
Another way to quickly screenshot your device with some Android devices is to access the quick settings panel. This can be accessed by swiping down from the top of the screen with two fingers, or on some devices by swiping down once and then swiping down again to expand the panel fully.
On this panel, you should look for a "Screenshot" or "Capture" icon/button in the quick settings panel, and you can simply tap on it to take a screenshot. You can also often record videos of your screen via this quick panel, and stop recording via a small stop square on the upper right side or left side.
How to Take a Screenshot on Android Via the Palm Swipe Method
This method is available on certain Android devices, such as Samsung Galaxy phones. Go to the device settings, search for "Palm swipe to capture" or a similar option, and enable it. Once enabled, you can capture a screenshot by swiping the edge of your hand horizontally across the screen.
After taking a screenshot, a notification may appear briefly indicating that the screenshot was saved. You can also access your screenshots in the Gallery or Photos app, where they are usually stored in a "Screenshots" folder. From there, you can view, edit, and share the captured screenshots.
How To Take a Screenshot on iPhone
Essentially all iPhones, you can use this simple method to take a screenshot:
- Press the Side button on the right side or top of your iPhone (depending on the model) simultaneously with the Volume Up button on the left side of your iPhone.
- Quickly press and release both buttons at the same time. You should see a flash on the screen and hear a camera shutter sound (if your device's sound is turned on) to indicate that the screenshot has been taken.
- The screenshot will be saved to your Photos app, and you can access it whenever you need by going into your Photos app.
How To Screenshot on iPads
To take a screenshot on an iPad, you can use the following method:
- Locate the buttons: Find the Sleep/Wake button (also known as the Power button) usually found at the top right corner of your iPad (may be elsewhere on different models). Additionally, find the Home button on the front face of your iPad below the display.
- Capture the screenshot: Press and hold the Sleep/Wake button and the Home button simultaneously. If your iPad does not have a Home button (like the iPad Pro 2018 and later), press and hold the Sleep/Wake button and the Volume Up button simultaneously. Make sure to press and release the buttons quickly.
- View the screenshot: After capturing the screenshot, you will see a flash on the screen, and you may hear a camera shutter sound (if your device's sound is turned on). The screenshot will be saved to your iPad's Photos app.
Saved screenshots can be found in the Photos app on your iPad. Simply navigate to the "Screenshots" album, and the most recent screenshot will appear at the bottom of the album.
How To Screenshot on an Xbox or PlayStation
Taking a screenshot on Xbox and PlayStation consoles can vary depending on the specific model and software version.
For Xbox Devices
With Xbox Series X/S and Xbox One, during gameplay, press the Xbox button on your controller to open the guide menu. Navigate to the "Capture & Share" tab and select "Take a Screenshot." For Xbox Series X/S, you can also press the 'Share' button on your controller to take an immediate screenshot.
For PlayStation Devices
On the PlayStation 5 while playing a game, press the Create button on your DualSense controller (the button with the small icon that looks like a camera). A menu will appear at the bottom of the screen. From there, select "Take Screenshot" to capture a screenshot.
For the PlayStation 4 during gameplay, press the Share button on your DualShock 4 controller (the button with the small icon that looks like a square). This will bring up the Share menu. Then, press the "Triangle" button to save a screenshot.
On PlayStation consoles, you can customize screenshot settings, such as image format and quality, through the console settings or capture options menu. On Xbox consoles, you can only change where your screenshots are saved through the console settings.
From Mac to Android, every platform offers us a canvas, and a screenshot is our paintbrush.
Conclusion: The Value of Screenshots
Almost as old and as useful as computer technology itself, the ability to screen shot and capture the contents of your screen is a vital part of the modern day and is useful for almost anything from capturing important information on a website or Word doc, capturing a funny image, or sharing the context of your screen with colleagues.
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