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I'm one of today's best-selling computer book writers, with more than 15 million books in print.

This website keeps you up-to-date on my books, and your computers. Each week, I answer a reader's question on-line.

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Taking screenshots in any version of Windows

The Print Screen key captures an image of the screen, but doesn't send it to your printer.Q: I am running Windows 7 Home, and I need to print screen shots. The Print Screen button doesn’t work. What am I doing wrong?

A: When you press the Print Screen key, usually labeled “Prt Scr,” “Print Scr,” “PrtSc” or something similar, you won’t think anything has happened. It certainly won’t send your screen to the printer.

But in the background, Windows has sent a snapshot of your screen to the Clipboard, a little storage tank for informational tidbits. (Windows XP even lets you view the clipboard’s contents; later Windows versions don’t.)

In your case, since you want to print that snapshot, you should copy your snapshot into a graphics program like Paint. (Paint is a graphics program included with every version of Windows, including Windows 7.)

Follow these steps to print or save screenshots from within any version of Windows:

  1. On your Windows desktop, align your windows the way you want them to appear when printed or saved as an screenshot.
  2. Press the Prt Scr key to send the image of your desktop to Windows’ hidden Clipboard. (To capture only an image of your currently open window, hold down the Alt key while pressing PrtScr.)
  3. Click the Start menu, choose All Programs, choose Accessories, and click on Paint.
  4. When Paint opens, click the Paste icon from the ribbon along the top; your image will appear in Paint. (Or, you can hold down Ctrl and press V to paste your screenshot into Paint.)
  5. Once the image is in Paint, you can print it (Ctrl+P) or save it as a file (Ctrl+S). (You can also edit it with Paint’s editing tools before printing or saving your handiwork.)
  6. If you’re e-mailing the image to somebody, save it in the PNG or JPG format, as those formats create smaller files.


Comment from John
Time October 26, 2010 at 8:49 am

How do you paste more than 1 image at a time? I want to make snapshots of an ongoing poker game. This happens quickly. I want to capture the images in real time. I can only access the last picture from Paint. I also cannot find my clipboard in my system 32 folders.
Thank You

Comment from Andy Rathbone
Time October 26, 2010 at 10:25 am

If you want to copy and paste several images in a sequence, you need a more full-featured program. Several programs can do what you want. I use WinSnap, which can take and save screenshots rapidly. It works with Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7.

I used WinSnap for all the screenshots in my latest book, Upgrading and Fixing PCs Do-It-Yourself For Dummies, and it worked very well.

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