How to Take A Screenshot in Windows 8.1

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Capturing Screenshots in Windows 8.1

If a picture is indeed worth a thousand words, then there’s no substitute for taking screenshots to illustrate your work environment, Windows error or gaming high score. Fortunately, Windows 8.1 offers two simple methods of taking screenshots. For a quick capture that immediately saves as an image file, the Windows hot key method takes the cake. But if you need more control over your snaps, you’ll need to employ the Snipping Tool.

Windows Hot Keys

Print Screen: Pressing the Print Screen (or sometimes labeled PrtSc) key takes a screenshot of your entire display and copies it to your clipboard. This function is fairly useless unless you have another program to paste it into, so the natively available Paint program frequently accepts such shots for cropping, annotating and saving. One advantage of this method is the ability to capture pop-up menus, such as the right-click context menu, by opening the menu before snapping the shot.

Windows-Print Screen: Holding the Windows key and pressing the Print Screen key takes the same entire-desktop screenshot, but it automatically saves the result to the Pictures library, which you can find using File Explorer. This is perhaps the quickest option for taking a desktop screenshot for emailing or archiving. Like the previous method, this hot key can also capture pop-up menus.

Windows-Alt-Print Screen: Pressing the Windows, Alt and Print Screen keys simultaneously restricts the screenshot to the active window, so if the image you wish to copy resides in a single program, you don’t need to capture the extra fluff. Unlike the previous two hot keys, this one won’t capture pop-up menus, because the act of pressing the Alt button removes the menu before taking the shot.

Snipping Tool

  • Search for and select Snipping Tool from the Windows Search screen.

  • Click the New drop-down menu and select the type of screenshot you want:

Free-Form Snip enables you to drag a marquee of any shape around a specific area to be captured; the resulting images is still rectangular, but anything outside the marquee is omitted.

Rectangular Snip captures a rectangular area, drawn with your mouse.

Windows Snip captures only a selected window.

Full-Screen Snip takes a screenshot of the entire display.

Tip: Although it seems counter-intuitive, you can also capture pop-up menus with the Snipping Tool. To do so with the Snipping Tool open, invoke the pop-up menu and press Ctrl-Print Screen. The program then acts like you selected Rectangular Snip, but the pop-up menu remains.

  • Drag the selection marquee around the area to be captured. In this example, a rectangular image is selected.

  • When you release your left mouse button the image within the marquee appears in the Snipping Tool. You can copy it to the clipboard by pressing the Copy button, email it by pressing the Email button, draw using the Pencil button or highlight using the Highlighter button.

  • Click the Save button, choose a location, enter a name and select Save to save the screenshot.


  • Screenshots taken by author.