How to capture your computer screen display Print E-mail
Ever wished you could just send someone, perhaps support personnel, a capture of your computer screen, so they can see what you are looking at? Or perhaps prepare an instructional guide for your office staff? There’s even a handy button on your keyboard labeled Print Screen, but it doesn’t seem to do anything. Actually it does.

The handy Windows Print Screen key is provided to obtain screen captures. The key may appear differently depending on your Windows keyboard (possibly abbreviated “PrtScn” or similar), but its standard position would be in the upper right section containing the Break and Scroll Lock keys, usually after the row of Function (F1- F12) keys.

You may have thought that pressing the Print Screen Key would literally send a picture of your screen to the printer, and that is how old operating systems like DOS used to work. In Windows though, the key takes a snapshot or picture of your computer screen as a bitmap and copies it to the clipboard (the clipboard is an invisible holding area for content that is copied), where you can do more with it then simply printing. It’s similar when you copy something from a document and it goes to your clipboard waiting to be pasted in its final destination.

So how exactly do you get to see those Screen Captures or send them to someone else? You have to paste the image into Paint or another program that will handle images. Here’s how to create a simple screenshot:
  • While the message or window is on screen, press the PrintScreen button on your keyboard. (On keyboards that have an F Lock key, you may have to press F Lock first.)
  • In windows, click Start > Run, type mspaint and click OK. This will load Paint, which comes with Windows.
  • In Paint, click Edit > Paste to paste in your screen capture (Ctrl+V may also be used to paste from the clipboard). You should now see the screen image.
  • Next use File > Save to save the image as a file. Although the image is initially copied as a .bmp (Bitmap) file, you can convert to another format. Use the “Save As Type” option in the file dialog to do so.
    • If you plan to send the screen shot to a technician, we recommend saving in the GIF format so it will be small and efficient to email.
    • For presentations or other purposes, you may wish to choose a different format. Be sure to name it appropriately and note where you save the file, so you can locate it easily.
  • You can now send this file to someone via email, use it in a presentation, create a little manual of screenshots showing how to perform a specific task, edit it further in a graphics program, and so on.
  • For example, to upload a screenshot to 3D Inspection System’s technical staff, use the "File Attachments" browse button at the bottom of the support ticket form to include the file you saved when you send your question. 
Here's a few other handy tips to note:
  • The clipboard can hold only one thing at a time. So if you wish to capture a series of screens, you must first paste whatever you stored before you use the Print Screen key again afterward.
  • Holding the ALT key while pressing the Print Screen key will capture only the currently active window, rather than the entire screen. If you are sending a screen capture to a technician though, it may be helpful to capture the entire screen so they can see what type of windows you have loaded and other details that may be important.
  • If you would like to print the image to your printer, use the print command from the graphics program into which you paste the image. It may also be helpful to preview first to make sure it formats you printout as expected. If the image is too large to fit on a page for instance, you may wish to edit it further.
  • You may use other editing tools in your graphics program to draw arrows, circle items, or add comments or text to your screenshot.
  • If you plan on sending or emailing your image to someone else, we don’t recommend pasting into Word or another specific program that your recipient may not have. Otherwise your recipient may not be able to easily receive or open the file type you send. But they should be able to open a standard graphic.
For most general screen capture needs, typical users of Windows (XP/Vista/7) should not have to buy a special Print Screen Program. Now that you know how Print Screen works, you may use these features that are built right into your hardware and Windows!

If you are using Windows 7 (and some versions of Vista), you may alternately use the special snip tool included with Windows to create a screen shot. To do so, in windows click Start, type snip and press Enter. That will load the snipping tool you may then use to capture part of your screen. You may then use the snipping tool to save your image as a GIF or other format. Snip also includes some additional handy options as well.

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