Capture a Screen SnapShot with PrtSC and MS Paint

paintsnapshotEver ask an expert or blogging tips author for help with your blog? Usually you start with "I followed the instructions but it's still not working."  That's when the helper might reply "Send me a snapshot of that part of your screen so I can see what's wrong."

Don't gasp for air, ask how to do that or take out your digital camera! To take snapshots, all you need is the PrtSc key and MS Paint. Nothing to download, register or pay for, since these elements are built into your Windows PC.

What is a screen snapshot? - It's an image of your computer screen that you capture and save as a graphical file.

How to capture your snapshot - The Print Screen key in the top right-hand of your keyboard copies the screen into the Windows clipboard. Once there you can paste it where you want.  There are two methods:

  1. prtscCapture the entire screen- The PrtSc key snaps everything including all applications you're running, the desktop and the launch bar at the bottom of your screen.
    If your key has a function at the bottom (SysRq in my case) then   need to hold down the Shift key to access the top function.
  2. Capture only the currently selected window- alt-prtscThe Alt and PrtSc is more discreet, snapping only the working window. You can hide those gaming sites or work related stuff.  Be sure to highlight any sections you want before the snapshot!  Hold down and release both keys.

How to deliver your screen snapshot

Once you have the image in the clipboard you can paste it into a word processor or your graphics software to create a mail attachment. MS Paint is simple to use for this purpose.

start-paint-programOpen MS Paint: Press Start, Programs, Accessories, Paint. This shows a blank canvas where you can paste the captured screen. Then save the file to your desktop. Compose an email and attach the snapshot file.


There are many instances where a picture can be "worth a thousand words." Keep this simple method handy so communicate when asking for help or when creating a tutorial. The captured screen can also go into a Word document or PowerPoint, which can then become your attachment.

You can paste the screen shot into other packages that let you edit the image (crop, add text, clip selected sections, etc.) like Ms Picture Manager. Then create a file attachment.


  1. Hi !! I love IT. Where You write more ?

  2. i want to print my screen. i followed the techniques provided above but still cannot access it. Is there another way? my computer key here has a PRTSC sys Req….help

    • Did you use the shift key? and which program (MS Word, etc.) did you paste from the clipboard? What about Matt’s suggestion:
      “I love this trick, especially because you don’t even have to leave the keyboard.

      once you hit “prnt scrn” then hit “windows button” + R to bring up the “run” prompt, then simply type in the word “mspaint”

      even shorter shortcut”
      Currently I use FireFox addon called Pixlr to grab defined areas, save to my desktop then upload or attach as needed. Let me know…

  3. This is a basic keyboard shortcut for screen capture and it'll be useful for newbies. Another option (Vista users) you can use Snipping Tools.

    For a complete list of keyboard shortcut (Vista), read it from here

    • Very handy list, thanks. It's good to have 'snipping' type tools. I use Fireshot, a Firefox add-on and MS Image Composer when I want to add text. See my suggestions for John – you may want to personalize the 'admin' and look at the 'resouce' in tagline. The homepage is great in giving new visitors so many posts to choose from. well organized.

  4. Thanks for sharing this great tip it was exactly what I was looking to do. Now I have no excuse not to get a capture and send it.

    • Always good to find that 'tip in time.' Your template is nice with the touch of green. I'd suggest an 'about' page to give readers more background. Definitely get a gravatar. You have a perfect logo symbol for a favicon— get going on the branding that helps with credibility. see

      Brand Your Blog With A Favicon

  5. Wow.. That's great.. I don't know before the Alt + Prtsc… Thanks

  6. I usually use Photoshop for my screenshots … but I wish I knew how to get a high resolution screen shot – you know, the kind you can print well? Screenshots are usually taken at 72 ppi whereas print quality should start at 180 ppi and ideally, be at 300 ppi.

    • You can experiment a bit with resizing the image after you paste into Photoshop. Start with the exact portion of the screen you need by cropping away things that don't need to print. Turn off 'anti-lasing' [try leaving on also to see the effect]. Convert to 'indexed colors' then increase the DPI to 288. This reduces the print size but gives you higher quality print [caution text may still be too small to read]. You can also try 144 DPI to see difference.
      Then use 'CMYK' for printing and save it as TIFF since jpg compression may mess things up for next time…
      Let me know. Anyone else have ideas on this?

      Also why do you need to print — will saving as a PDF work if it's for historical puposes? Also if color not important try black and white printing…

  7. I love this trick, especially because you don't even have to leave the keyboard.

    once you hit "prnt scrn" then hit "windows button" + R to bring up the "run" prompt, then simply type in the word "mspaint"

    even shorter shortcut :)

  8. I use this way to get snapshot of my blog a lot . It helps me to use them as example for my readers. I guess this article would be useful for many .

  9. This is just great!

    I love it when I learn more on how to use the keyboard.

    Thanks a mil.