How to take a screenshot on Windows

Whether it’s a fresh new meme or some notes from your online class, sometimes you come across something you want to save for later by taking a screenshot. Any of the best laptops on the market — and most devices in general — lets you take a screenshot in one way or another, and Windows 11 lets you do it in many different ways.

Not only does Windows 11 provide tools for taking screenshots out of the box, there are some third-party tools that take things further with sharing functionality or even automatic screenshots on a timer.

Taking a screenshot with Print Screen

The quickest way to take a screenshot is to use the Print screen key on your keyboard. It will likely be shown on your keyboard as Prt sc or Prt scn.

  1. Locate the Print Screen key on your keyboard.
    Close-up picture of a laptop keyboard with a Print Screen key, which is a secondary function of the Shift key

  2. On the screen that you want to capture a screenshot of the entire screen, press the Windows + Print screen keys.

    On some keyboards, Print Screen may be a secondary function of another key. You may need to press the Fn key simultaneously to use it.

Your screenshot will automatically be saved in your Pictures library, in a folder called Screenshots.

With the latest version of Windows 11, you can also press the Print screen key by itself to launch the Snipping Tool, which gives you more options for capturing a part of your screen. We’ll talk more about that below.

On previous versions of Windows, pressing the Print screen key alone will take a fullscreen screenshot and copy it to the clipboard, rather than save it to a file.

If you want something a bit more advanced so you can take a screenshot of a specific app or an area of the screen, Windows 11 also has the Snipping Tool. To use it:

  1. Press Windows + Shift + S on your keyboard.

    On recent versions of Windows 11, you can press the Print screen key instead. This option can also be enabled in the Settings app, under Accessibility > Keyboard.

  2. Use the toolbar at the top to select your preferred capture mode: Freeform, Rectangle, Window, or Fullscreen. Fullscreen will immediately take a screenshot of the entire screen.
  3. Draw the area of the screen you want to capture, or click on a window if you chose window mode.

Screenshots are automatically copied to the clipboard and saved. However, you’ll see a notification on your screen that lets you edit the screenshot too.

  1. Click the notification that appears after taking a screenshot.
    Screenshot of a Windows 11 desktop with a Snipping Tool notification shown after capturing a screenshot

  2. You can use tools like a pen and highlighter to modify the screenshot as needed. Changes are automatically copied to the clipboard.
    Screenshot of Snipping Tool editing a screenshot with the pen options menu highlighted.

  3. Click Save to save the modified screenshot as a file.

And that’s it! Snipping Tool includes some basic drawing tools, and the latest versions even include text recognition, so you can copy text from screenshots or redact sensitive information more easily.

How to take timed screenshots

Sometimes, you need to take screenshots of certain UI elements that disappear when you press the shortcut keys to launch Snipping Tool. Thankfully, you can also set a timer to take a screenshot. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Start menu and open the Snipping Tool app. You can search for it using the search bar.
  2. Click the clock icon (Delay snip) on the toolbar at the top and choose one of the delay options: 3 seconds, 5 seconds, or 10 seconds.
    Screenshot of the capture delay options in the Windows 11 Snipping Tool

  3. Choose the capture mode you want to use (as mentioned above).
  4. Click New.
  5. Open the content you’re trying to capture.
  6. Wait for the capture UI to appear and select the content you want to capture (fullscreen screenshots will be captured automatically).

This should make it easier to take screenshots of more volatile UI elements that disappear when you press certain keys, like tooltips and other elements that appear on mouse hover.

Taking a screenshot of a game with the Xbox Game Bar

If you’re a gamer, you’re probably aware of a tool called the Xbox Game Bar that comes pre-installed on Windows. This overlay lets you quickly access Xbox social features, change per-app volume, see system resource usage, and of course take screenshots of an app or game. Here’s how:

  1. While playing a game, press Windows + G to launch Xbox Game Bar.
  2. In the top-right corner (by default), you’ll see a Capture window. Click the camera icon to take a screenshot of your currently open app.
    Screenshot of the Xbox Game Bar UI with the Capture window highlighted in the top left corner

    Alternatively, you can immediately take a screenshot of a game by pressing Windows + Alt + Print Screen on your keyboard without opening the Game Bar.

Screenshots taken using Xbox Game Bar are saved in the Videos library on your computer, inside a folder called Captures. In addition to taking screenshots, the Xbox Game Bar can also record your screen. We have an article on how to record your screen if you’d like to learn more about that.

Taking a screenshot using PicPick

PicPick is a third-party application that offers a large variety of screenshot-taking options along with some other tools that can be useful to you. You get options like taking screenshots of scrolling windows, screenshots of particular colors on the screen, or even measuring the dimensions of objects in your screenshot using an on-screen ruler. Here’s how you can use PicPick and capture better screenshots:

  1. Download PicPick from the official website and install the app.
  2. Open the app and you’ll be greeted by this screen. You may see a warning about a default shortcut not being available, but we’ll ignore that for now.
    Screenshot of the home screen on the PicPick app

  3. Select any of the capture options available under Screen capture.
  4. Once you capture the screenshot using your preferred option, you can edit it with a fairly robust set of tools, including drawing, fill, shapes, and more.
    Screenshot of the image editor in PicPick after taking a screenshot

  5. Click the Save button at the top left of the window to save your screenshot as a file.
  6. You can also use the Share tab to upload the file to an online service and share it more easily.

How to take multiple screenshots automatically

What if you’re watching a video or presentation and you want to capture screenshots of multiple parts without having to go into the screenshot tool every time? Thanks to a tool called AutoScreenshot, you can capture screenshots automatically on a set frequency, so you never have to miss an important slide in a presentation, and you can still pay attention just fine. Here’s how to use it:

  1. Download Auto Screenshot from GitHub. You can choose either the setup or portable versions, but we’ll use the former option here.
  2. Run the installer and follow the setup process.
  3. Open Auto Screenshot (it should be in the Start menu).
  4. You can change settings like the output folder for the screenshots and the naming structure of the screenshot files.
    Screenshot of the Auto Screenshot app showing the settings for automatic screenshots

  5. Choose the Saving interval to change how often screenshots should be taken automatically.

    By default, screenshots are taken every five minutes. To take screenshots more frequently, enter a lower time, such as 30 seconds.

  6. Click Start to begin taking screenshots automatically.
  7. Open the presentation or other content you want to capture and view it as normal.
  8. When you’re done, go back to the Auto Screenshot window and click Stop.

These are some of the best and simplest ways in which you can take a screenshot on Windows. If you’re not a Windows fan, we also have guides for taking screenshots on Mac and on a Chromebook.