What’s the best way to capture that Windows 10 or Windows 11 screen? We’ll show you.
You only need a few keystrokes to take screen captures in Windows 10 or 11. Here are several ways to do it.
Whether you’re downloading Windows 11 when it launches on Tuesday (find out how to download Windows 11 free) or sticking with Windows 10 for a while longer, it’s easy to take a screenshot to capture part of or the entirety of your display. Maybe you want to save an online receipt, or maybe you want to capture a particularly noteworthy gaming feat to show off to your friends. Windows 10 and 11 offer the same built-in tools (Snip & Sketch and Snipping Tool), and several keyboard shortcuts will let you take a screenshot in an instant.
Here, we’ll walk you through how to use both built-in Windows screenshot tools and other shortcuts for taking screenshots in Windows 10 and Windows 11, so you can decide which you like best.
Snip & Sketch
The Snip & Sketch tool is easier to access, share and annotate screenshots than the old Snipping Tool. And it can now capture a screenshot of a window on your desktop, a surprising omission when the app was first introduced that kept us on Team Snipping Tool until recently.
The easiest way to call up Snip & Sketch is with the keyboard shortcut Windows key + Shift + S. You can also find the Snip & Sketch tool listed in in the alphabetical list of apps accessed from the Start button as well as in the notification panel where it listed as Screen snip. Or you can just search for it if you don’t commit the keyboard shortcut to memory. (If you’re regular screenshot taker, we recommend pinning the app to the taskbar.)
Either the keyboard shortcut or the notification button will dim your screen and open a tiny menu at the top of your screen that lets you choose which type of screenshot you want to take — rectangular, free-form, window or full-screen. Once you take your screenshot, it will be saved to your clipboard and show up momentarily as a notification in the lower-right corner of your screen. Click the notification to open the screenshot in the Snip & Sketch app to annotate, save or share it. (If you miss the notification, open the notification panel and you’ll see it sitting there.
If you open Snip & Sketch from the Start menu or by searching for it, it will open the Snip & Sketch window instead of the small panel at the top of the screen. From here, you need to click the New button in the upper-left to initiate a screen capture and open the small panel. It’s an extra step to proceed this way, but it also lets you delay a screenshot. Click the down-arrow button next to the New button to delay a snip for 3 or 10 seconds.
The Snipping Tool has been around since Windows Vista. Windows has warned for a couple years that the Snipping Tool is moving away, but it’s still kicking around, including in Windows 11. The Snipping Tool has been delisted from the list of apps from the Start menu, but it’s easily accessible via the search bar.
Click the New button to begin the screenshot process. The default snip type is a rectangular snip, but you can also take free-form, full-screen and window snips.
The Snipping Tool does not automatically save your screenshots — you will need to manually save them in the tool before you exit — and it does automatically copy your captures to the clipboard.
To capture your entire screen, tap the Print Screen (sometimes labeled PrtScn) key. Your screenshot will not be saved as a file, but it will be copied to the clipboard. You’ll need to open an image editing tool (such as Microsoft Paint), paste the screenshot in the editor and save the file from there.
You can also set the PrtScn button to open the Snip & Sketch tool by going to Settings > Ease of Access > Keyboard and toggling on Use the PrtScn button to open screen snipping under Print Screen Shortcut.
Windows key + Print Screen
To capture your entire screen and automatically save the screenshot, tap the Windows key + Print Screen key. Your screen will briefly go dim to indicate that you’ve just taken a screenshot, and the screenshot will be saved to the Pictures > Screenshots folder.
Alt + Print Screen
To take a quick screenshot of the active window, use the keyboard shortcut Alt + PrtScn. This will snap your currently active window and copy the screenshot to the clipboard. You’ll need to open the shot in an image editor to save it.
You can use the Game bar to snap a screenshot, whether you’re in the middle of playing a game or not. Hit the Windows key + G key to call up the Game bar. From here, you can click the screenshot button in the Game bar or use the default keyboard shortcut Windows key + Alt + PrtScn to snap a full-screen screenshot. To set your own Game bar screenshot keyboard shortcut, to Settings > Gaming > Game bar. Backing up a bit, you’ll also need to enable Game bar from this settings page by making sure you’ve toggled on Record game clips, screenshots, and broadcast using Game bar.
Windows Logo + Volume Down
If you’re rocking a Microsoft Surface device, you can use the physical (well, sort of physical) buttons to take a screenshot of your entire screen — similar to how you would take a screenshot on any other phone or tablet. To do this, hold down the Windows Logo touch button at the bottom of your Surface screen and hit the physical volume-down button on the side of the tablet. The screen will dim briefly and the screenshot will be automatically saved to the Pictures > Screenshots folder.
Want more Windows info? Check out every big difference between Windows 10 and Windows 11 and every feature we wanted in Windows 11 but didn’t get.