Hi! Sometimes you’d like to show someone far away what your screen or active window looks like. For example, you can make some instructions for how to use a software program or you can send someone a screenshot of an error message so she can help you.
It’s really easy to do, both on a PC and on a Mac.
I use screenshots all the time. This week, I needed to teach someone a new function in our scanning program. I took a series of screenshots of the program in action, pasted them into a Word document, and wrote instructions under each screenshot so the user could follow along.
Here’s how to do screenshots. On a PC, you have a couple of choices:
- press the PrtScn button to capture your entire screen and paste it to the clipboard. The PrtScn button is usually on the top row on the right side of your keyboard.
- hold the alt key and, at the same time, press the PrtScn key to capture only the active window.
The screenshots are copied to the clipboard. That means you can use the paste command to put the screenshot into the program of your choice. I often use Word and Outlook as the destinations for my screenshots.
This function is also available on a Mac, of course. Here are the choices if you’re a Mac user:
- Command-Shift-3: Take a screenshot of the screen, and save it as a file on the desktop
- Command-Shift-4, then select an area: Take a screenshot of an area and save it as a file on the desktop
- Command-Shift-4, then space, then click a window: Take a screenshot of a window and save it as a file on the desktop
- Command-Control-Shift-3: Take a screenshot of the screen, and save it to the clipboard
- Command-Control-Shift-4, then select an area: Take a screenshot of an area and save it to the clipboard
- Command-Control-Shift-4, then space, then click a window: Take a screenshot of a window and save it to the clipboard
A note about the clipboard: The clipboard is also called the paste buffer. When you copy something (like a screenshot), the operating system stores what you copied in the paste buffer. The clipboard remembers only the last thing you copied to it. So if you take a screen shot, then copy a line of text (using ctrl-c, for example), the clipboard will only have the line of text, not the screenshot. When you take a screenshot, paste it where you want it immediately so you don’t lose it.
Just so you know, there are utilities -some free and some for cost- that give you more screenshot functions and power. The clipboard is free and, most of the time, will be all you need.