How to Take a Screenshot on a Windows PC

Taking a screenshot isn’t a particularly exciting computing task, but it’s a very useful skill to have nonetheless. Screenshots can be helpful at work, essential for record-keeping, or may even be requested by tech support to better illustrate a bug you’re experiencing.

But if you’re taking screenshots on a Windows PC, the first thing to know is that you’re not just stuck with one method for doing so. You aren’t limited to just the Print Screen key. Your other options include sending screenshots to OneDrive, getting them via Game Bar, and others. Our preferred method uses the Paint program, but you can edit screenshots with nearly any first- or third-party tool.

Further reading

  • How to take a screenshot on a Chromebook
  • How to take a screenshot on a Mac
  • How to take a screenshot on an iPhone

Step 1: Capture the image

Windows provides six methods to capture your desktop as an image. Three are based on the Print Screen (PrtScn) key while the remaining three require the Windows (Win) key.

On external keyboards, you’ll find a dedicated PrtScn key located in the upper-right corner. The Win key typically resides on the lower left between the Control (Ctrl) and Alternate (Alt) keys. It sports the Windows logo, so it’s hard to miss.

On laptops, the Print Screen command may be combined with another function on a single key, as shown above. In this case, you must press the Function (Fn) key in addition to the Print Screen key.

Here’s a breakdown of the six screen capture commands:

  • Print Screen (PrtScn)Captures the entire screen. If you have more than one display, this function captures everything shown across all connected displays as a single image. By default, this method does not save your image as a file, but merely sends the captured image to the clipboard.
  • Alt + Print ScreenCaptures a single window. Be sure to highlight the target window first, such as a document or browser, before pressing these two keys (or three on a laptop). By default, this method does not save your image as a file, but just sends the captured image to the clipboard.
  • Win + Print ScreenCaptures the entire screen. The difference here is that Windows saves the image as a file. By default, it’s sent to C:UsersPictures>Screenshots on your PC.
  • Win + Shift + SCapture a screenshot using the built-in Snip & Sketch tool. The screen dims and provides four choices on a small toolbar: Rectangular, Freeform, Window Snip, and Fullscreen Snip. This tool does not save captures as an image but merely sends them to the clipboard. We expand on this later in the guide.
  • Win + GOpens the Game bar. Click the Capture button and then the camera icon and this tool will save an image to C:UsersVideos>Captures by default.
  • Win + Alt + Print ScreenCaptures the entire screen. This command saves an image to C:UsersVideos>Captures by default.

In some cases, the screen flickers or dims to signify that Windows grabbed a screenshot. If this doesn’t happen, open File Explorer and head to their respective default locations to see if Windows saved your image.

OneDrive Salva screenshot

If you’re using OneDrive, you can save screenshots to the cloud so they’re accessible from every device. It does not save screenshots by default. Instead, you must click on the cloud icon parked next to the system clock (or in the hidden icons menu marked with an upward-facing arrow icon), select Help & Settings, and click Settings on the pop-up menu. Next, click the Backup tab in the resulting pop-up window and check the box under Screenshots.

In this case, you can press the first three Print Screen commands to automatically save an image to OneDrive. You won’t see the screen flicker or dim for the first two commands — you’ll receive a notification instead. Be sure to sync the Screenshots folder if you want to access the images on your PC.

Step 2: Open Paint

If you used a method that saves your screenshot locally as a file, you can locate and view the image using the Photos app. If everything looks great, you can move it, attach it to an email, upload it to the cloud, and so on. However, if you need to crop an image — especially those taken on PCs with more than one screen — you have three native tools at your disposal: Paint, Paint 3D, and Photos.

Compared to Paint and Paint 3D, Microsoft’s newer Photos app is somewhat limited. You can rotate and crop images, change their aspect ratio, apply filters, adjust the color, remove red-eye, and more. You can’t create an image from scratch and paste from the clipboard.

In this guide, we use the older Paint program because it’s familiar and reliable. By default, you won’t find it listed on the Start menu. Instead, type Paint in the taskbar’s search field and click the resulting desktop app.

Paint may also be available when you right-click on an image. When the pop-up menu appears, hover your mouse pointer over the menu’s Open With option to see Paint listed on a secondary menu, as shown below.

Apri con Paint

Alternatively, you can locate the program — mspaint.exe — in the C:WindowsSystem32 directory. Right-click on the file and select Pin to Start on the pop-up menu.

Step 3: Paste the screenshot (clipboard only)

You’ll need this step if you used a screenshot method that sends your capture to the clipboard.

With Paint open, click the clipboard-style Paste button located in the top left corner. You can also press the keyboard’s Ctrl and V keys to paste the image on Paint’s blank canvas, which expands accordingly.

With your screenshot properly inserted into Paint, you can crop, paint, create shapes, add text, and more. If you want to add stickers, 3D shapes, effects, and more, click the colorful Edit With Paint 3D button located on the toolbar’s right end.

Step 4: Save the screenshot


This method applies to all screenshot methods.

When you finish editing the image, click the main File option in the upper-left corner. Next, select Save As in the drop-down menu. This option expands with a selection of four file formats — PNG, JPEG, BMP, and GIF – along with the Other Formats option to save your image as a TIFF or HEIC file.

Se non hai familiarità con i formati di immagine, consulta la nostra guida, JPEG e PNG: quando e perché usare un formato rispetto all'altro .

Qualunque sia il formato scelto, viene visualizzata una finestra popup. Immettere un nome file e selezionare il formato file desiderato dal menu a discesa. Puoi anche selezionare una destinazione specifica se non desideri salvare lo screenshot nella posizione predefinita.

Quando sei pronto, fai clic sul pulsante Salva nell'angolo in basso a destra.

E questo è tutto! Hai finito.

Alternative: lo strumento di cattura

Screenshot dello strumento di cattura di Windows 10 immagine dello schermo

The best alternative native method is the Snipping Tool. This built-in screen-capture utility works well enough, but it’s not the most robust or versatile when it comes to saving a snapshot. However, it’s a utility that allows users to better define and capture portions of their desktop display as a screenshot.

To start, just type Snipping Tool into the taskbar’s search field and select the resulting app. Once it opens, you’ll see a notification that it’s moving to a new home in a future update. It’s still an available tool but Microsoft encourages you to use Snip & Sketch or the aforementioned Win + Shift + S keyboard shortcut.

With the Snipping Tool opened, click the Mode button to expand its menu. You’ll find four screen-capturing options: Draw a window (Free-Form Snip), box in an area (Rectangular Snip), capture the current window (Window Snip), and capture the entire screen (Full-Screen Snip).

Note that if you use the Free-Form and Rectangular modes, the screen turns white. Once you begin defining the screenshot space, the white tint clears within that area. If you’re capturing a specific window, your screen tints white save for the contents within that window.

The Snipping Tool includes a delay feature too. It can wait between one to five seconds before it snaps a screenshot so you can capture a precise moment in a video or animation. You can then take repeated snips in the same mode simply by pressing the Alt and N keys.

Once you capture a screenshot, the Snipping Tool interface expands to display your screenshot. You can perform light edits like using a pen, highlighter, and eraser. You can also click the colorful Paint 3D button to perform additional edits in the newer application.

When you’re done editing within the Snipping Tool, click File in the upper left corner and then click the Save As option listed on the drop-down menu.

Alternatives: Snip & Sketch

Cattura e disegna

Snip & Sketch è la versione più recente di Microsoft della sua utilità di cattura. Puoi accedere a questo strumento dal menu Start o digitando Win + Maiusc + S sulla tastiera.

Se utilizzi la scorciatoia da tastiera, lo schermo si oscura e visualizza una barra degli strumenti a cinque pulsanti lungo la parte superiore. Hai le stesse funzioni trovate nel vecchio Strumento di cattura, ma non salva i tuoi screenshot come file. L'immagine va invece direttamente negli appunti.

Se invece carichi l'app Snip & Sketch, fai clic sulla freccia a discesa accanto al pulsante Nuovo nell'angolo in alto a sinistra e seleziona Snip Now nel menu a discesa. Lo schermo si oscura e viene visualizzata la barra degli strumenti a cinque pulsanti. In questo caso, lo screenshot viene caricato all'interno dell'app, consentendo di ritagliare l'immagine e applicare una penna, una matita, un evidenziatore e una gomma.

Quando sei pronto, salva l'immagine ovunque sul tuo PC facendo clic sul pulsante in stile disco. Se desideri modificare e salvare lo screenshot utilizzando un editor di immagini installato, fai clic sull'icona a tre punti sulla barra degli strumenti e seleziona l' opzione Apri con nel menu a discesa.

Alternative di terze parti

Se desideri ancora più opzioni per la scelta e la personalizzazione dei tuoi screenshot (e non ti dispiace scaricare una nuova app), ti suggeriamo di provare LightShot. LightShot può essere un'opzione migliore per lavori più professionali o screenshot che richiedono modifiche significative.

Suggeriamo anche GNU Image Manipulation Program o GIMP. È uno strumento open source per i creativi che non vogliono pagare un abbonamento ad Adobe Photoshop. Fornisce tutto il necessario per creare opere d'arte, modificare immagini ad alta definizione e altro ancora.