Create a snapshot of your screen (screenshot)

Wizard A friend called to ask me how to take a screenshot of a program’s settings menu. Generally, there are two built-in alternatives to grab a picture of the screen:

  • capture the whole screen – press Shift + Print Screen to copy the whole visible screen, then paste in an application (can be either a graphic editor like Photoshop, or rich-text editor like Word)
  • grab the current (active) window only – press Alt + Print Screen to copy, then paste in an application

These shortcuts apply to Windows, but there are the equivalent shortcuts in MacOS also. Just try different combinations of Shift, Option and Command keys together with Print Screen to see which does what.

Bear in mind, that some applications (video or games) use advanced techniques to display content, utilizing what’s called an overlay surface. In such cases, you may or may not be able to capture the window’s content.

Additionally, if you wish to record video of your interactions with a program, you will need to use a dedicated screen capturing application.

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3 Responses to “Create a snapshot of your screen (screenshot)”

  1. Michel says:

    On Windows, you really don’t need to press Shift+PrintScreen: just PrintScreen is enough… 🙂

    However, the Alt+PrintScreen trick is nice: I didn’t know you can automatically capture only the screen for the current app in focus! Thanks for sharing it!

  2. [vladi] says:

    Yes, and you can also grab an open sub-window this way – capture a settings screen, a warning/error message, etc. – everything, that has a window an can ‘receive focus’ should work.

  3. Michel says:

    That’s an excellent tip, thanks again! 🙂


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