Press Windows + Print Screen to instantly take a full screenshot in Windows 11. The screenshot will be saved to C:\Users[User Name]Images Screenshots. Press Windows + Shift + S to open Snip and Sketch and capture screenshots of a specific region or window or take a freeform screenshot.
If you need to capture the content of your Windows 11 PC screen (or a part of it) for later reference, then it’s time to take a screenshot. You can use built-in screenshot features or third-party tools. Here are several different ways to do it.
Copy the entire screen to the clipboard: press Print Screen
In Windows 11, as in previous versions of Windows, you can copy an image of your entire screen to the clipboard (a temporary storage area for copying and pasting) by pressing the Print Screen key (PrtScn). Sometimes the Print Screen key will be labeled “PrtScn” or “PrtScrn” on your keyboard.
On desktop keyboards, you’ll usually find the Print Screen key to the right of the F12 key, on the top row of keys. On laptop keyboards, you may need to press a function key (“Fn”) while pressing the Print Screen key for it to work.
With a screenshot on your clipboard, you can paste the screenshot into any application that can receive pasted images. For example, you can open the Paint application that comes with Windows and paste the image with Ctrl + V. Then press Ctrl + S to save the screenshot as a file in the desired image format.
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Save a screenshot as a file: Press Windows + Print Screen
If you want to instantly save a screenshot as an image file on your PC, press Windows + Print Screen on your keyboard. Windows will take a full-screen screenshot and automatically save it as a PNG file named “Screenshot(#).png” in the
C:Users[User Name]PicturesScreenshots folder (where “#” is a number that counts over time based on the number of screenshots you’ve taken).
And remember that if you have a laptop, you may need to hold down the Function or “Fn” key while pressing Print Screen or “PrtSc” for it to work, so you may need to press Windows + Fn + Print Screen to capture your screen as a PNG file.
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Copy active window to clipboard: press Alt + Print Screen
If you want to capture the currently active window to the clipboard (without having to select it or crop an image), press Alt + Print Screen on your keyboard. Once on the clipboard, you can paste the screenshot into any application that receives images, such as Microsoft Paint, Adobe Photoshop, or a free image editing application such as Paint.NET.
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Capture a part of the screen to the clipboard: press Windows + Shift + S
If you want to capture a specific part of your screen that you select yourself, you can use a special Windows 11 screen snipping tool. At any time, press Shift + Windows + s on your keyboard. The screen will go dark and you will see a small toolbar at the top center of the screen. From left to right, this is what the options do:
- Rectangular cutout: Select a free-form, rectangle-shaped area of the screen to capture.
- Free Form Trim: Select an irregular shape as a screenshot. The area around the irregular shape (in the rectangular image) will be black when you paste it.
- Window cutout: Choose an application window and capture just that window.
- Full Screen Clipping: Similar to pressing Print Screen itself, this option captures a screenshot of your entire screen.
To capture a rectangular selection of the screen, for example, click the left plus icon on the toolbar, which looks like a rectangle with a plus sign in the corner.
Then hover near what you’d like to capture. Click and hold the mouse button, then drag the mouse (or your finger on a trackpad) until you’ve selected the rectangular area you want to save.
When you release the mouse button, the area you selected will be copied to the clipboard. If you have notifications turned on, you will see a small popup in the corner of the Snipping Tool screen. If you click on it, the screenshot you just took will open in the Snipping Tool app, where you can annotate, crop, or save as needed (see section below).
If you ignore the pop-up notification, you will need to paste the screenshot into an image editing program such as Microsoft Paint in order to save it to a file. However, you can also paste the image directly into other applications, such as email clients and messaging applications.
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Use Print Screen to open Screen Snipping
Windows 11 includes a handy option that will let you launch the screen snipping tool (seen in the last section) by pressing Print Screen instead of having to press Windows + Shift + S. To enable it, open Windows Settings by pressing Windows + i . Then navigate to Accessibility > Keyboard. Scroll down and toggle the switch next to “Use the Print Screen button to open screen snippets” to “On.”
After that, close the settings. Whenever you want to open the screen snipping tool to quickly copy screenshots to the clipboard, just hit Print Screen on your keyboard.
Take a screenshot on a device without a print screen key
On some older Windows devices that lack the Print Screen key (such as early Microsoft Surface tablets), you can take a screenshot by pressing Windows + Fn + Spacebar.
Alternatively, if you have a tablet or other device with a Windows logo button, you can press the Windows button and the Volume Down button at the same time to capture the entire screen. Either method will save a screenshot to the Pictures/Screenshots folder in your user folder.
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Take a screenshot with the snipping tool
To take screenshots with more control that you can annotate, save, or share, you can use the Windows 11 snipping tool. To start it, open the Start menu and type “snipping,” then click the Snipping tool icon when see it.
When the snipping tool opens, click “New” to start a new capture.
Once you do, you’ll see a small toolbar at the top of the screen (like the one you see in the “Capturing a portion of the screen” section above) that allows you to perform a rectangular crop, a shape crop free, a window snip, and full screen snip. The difference here is that with the Snipping Tool app running, these tools don’t just copy the screenshot to the clipboard. Instead, you can save them to a file.
After capturing the screenshot using one of the methods on the toolbar, it will appear in the Snipping Tool window. You’ll have the opportunity to crop it, annotate it with a drawing pen, save it as a file, or share it with others using the toolbar at the top of the window.
Also, if you need to capture something with a timed delay, the Snipping Tool is ideal. Click the clock icon on the toolbar and select a delay time from the dropdown menu that appears.
After selecting the time, click the “New” button and a screenshot will be activated after the time period you selected. To save the file, click the save floppy icon on the toolbar and choose a location. Nice and easy!
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Take a screenshot (or video) with Xbox Game Bar
You can also take a screenshot or capture a video using Xbox Game Bar. To do so, first open Xbox Game Bar by pressing Windows + g on your keyboard (or you can press the Xbox logo button on a connected Xbox controller). Once it appears, you can use the “Capture” widget to capture screenshots in PNG format and videos in MP4 format.
If you don’t see the “Capture” window on the Xbox Game Bar screen, click the “Widgets” button in the toolbar at the top of the screen and select “Capture.”
In the “Capture” window (which appears in the upper left corner of the screen by default), click the camera icon to take a screenshot of the current application (or the desktop, if there is no application active).
Similarly, to record a video of the currently active app, click the record button (which looks like a small white dot inside the larger gray button circle). Note that for some reason, Windows 11 won’t let you take a video from File Explorer. or the desktop, just one active application.
To stop recording, click the square “Stop” button on the Xbox Game Bar floating toolbar or within the Xbox Game Bar capture widget.
After capturing, the screenshots and videos will appear on your
C:Users[username]VideosCaptures binder. You can also review them in the “Gallery” widget within the Xbox Game Bar interface. When you’re done capturing, click any blank area on the screen or press Escape to close the Xbox Game Bar.
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Use a third-party screenshot utility
Although the Windows operating system (OS) contains its own screen capture capabilities (as you have seen above), you can gain new features and flexibility by installing a third-party screen capture program.
Among the dozens of free screenshot apps available for Windows, we recommend Greenshot as a good starting point. It’s free and includes different capture and output options for several different screenshot keyboard shortcuts.
If you want something even more powerful and don’t mind spending a few bucks on quality software, we recommend Techsmith’s SnagIt. Many of us here at How-To Geek have used it for years. It’s a feature-packed app that makes it easy to take great screenshots (it can also capture videos and animated GIFs).
SnagIt offers a free trial, so we recommend you give it a try and see if it meets your needs. If you take a lot of screenshots, it can make your life much easier.