If you need to capture the screen content of your Windows 11 PC (or a portion of it) for future reference, then it’s time to take a screenshot. You can use screenshot features built into Windows 11 or third-party tools.
Here are the different ways to do it.
Copy the entire screen to the clipboard: Press Print Screen
In Windows 11, as in previous versions of Windows, you can copy an image of the entire screen to the clipboard (a temporary storage area for copying and pasting) by pressing the Print Screen (PrtScn) key. Sometimes, the Print Screen key will be labeled “PrintScn” or “PrintScrn” on the keyboard.
On desktop keyboards, you’ll usually find the Print Screen key to the right of the F12 key, along the top row of keys. On laptop keyboards, you may need to press a function key (“Fn”) while pressing the Print Screen key for it to work.
With a screenshot in the clipboard, you can paste the screenshot into any application that can receive pasted images. For example, you can open the Paint app that came with Windows and paste the image with Ctrl + V. Then press Ctrl + S to save the screenshot as a file in the desired image format.
Save a screenshot as a file: Press Windows + Print Screen
If you want to immediately save a screenshot as an image file on your PC, press Windows + Print Screen on your keyboard. Windows will take a full screen screenshot and automatically save it as a PNG file named “Screenshot (#). Png” in the
C:\Users\[User Name]\Pictures\Screenshotsfolder (where “#” is a number that accumulates over time based on the number of screenshots you have taken).
And remember that if you have a laptop, you may need to hold down the Function or “Fn” key while pressing Print Screen or “PrtSc” to get it to work, so you may need to press Windows + Fn + Print Screen to capture the screen as a PNG file.
Copy the active window to the clipboard: Press Alt + Print Screen
If you want to capture the currently active window to the clipboard (without having to select it or crop an image), press Alt + Print Screen on your keyboard. Once in the clipboard, you can paste the screenshot into any app that will receive images, such as Microsoft Paint, Adobe Photoshop, or a free image editing app like Paint.NET.
Capture part of the screen to the clipboard: Press Windows + Shift + S
If you want to capture a specific part of the screen that you select yourself, you can use a special Windows 11 screen capture tool. At any time, press Shift + Windows + s on your keyboard. The screen will go blank and you will see a small toolbar at the top center of the screen. From left to right, here’s what the options do:
- Rectangular capture: selects a free-form rectangular area of the screen to capture.
- Freehand capture: select an irregular shape as a screenshot. The area around the irregular shape (in the rectangular image) will be black when you paste it.
- Capture window: choose an application window and capture that window only.
- Capture full screen : Similar to pressing Print Screen alone, this option takes a screenshot of the entire screen.
To capture a rectangular screen selection, for example, click the leftmost icon on the toolbar, which looks like a rectangle with a plus sign in the corner.
Then, place your cursor near what you want to capture. Click and hold the mouse button, then drag the mouse (or finger on a trackpad) until you’ve selected the rectangular area you want to save.
When you release the mouse button, the selected area will be copied to the clipboard. If you have notifications turned on, you will see a small pop-up in the corner of the Snipping Tool screen. If you click on it, the screenshot you just captured will open in the Snipping Tool app where you can annotate, crop, or save it as needed (see the section below).
If you ignore the pop-up notification, you’ll still need to paste the screenshot into an image editing program like Microsoft Paint in order to save it to a file. However, you can also paste the image directly into other applications, such as email clients and messaging apps.
Use Print Screen to open Screen Capture
Windows 11 includes a handy option that will allow you to launch the screen capture tool (seen in the last section) by pressing Print Screen instead of having to press Windows + Shift + S. To enable it, open Windows Settings by pressing Windows + i. Then go to Accessibility> Keyboard. Scroll down and slide the switch next to “Use Print Screen Button to Open Screen Capture” to “On”.
After that, close the settings. Whenever you want to open the screen capture tool to quickly copy the screenshots to the clipboard, press Print Screen on your keyboard.
Take a screenshot on a device without a Print Screen key
On some older Windows devices without a Print Screen key (such as early Microsoft Surface tablets), you can take a screenshot by pressing Windows + Fn + Spacebar.
Alternatively, if you have a tablet or other device with a Windows logo button, you can press the Windows button and the Volume Down button at the same time to capture the entire screen. Both methods will save a screenshot in the Pictures \ Screenshots folder in the user folder.
Take a screenshot using the Snipping Tool
To take screenshots with more control that you can annotate, save, or share, you can use the Windows 11 Snipping Tool. To launch it, open the Start menu and type “snipping”, then click the snipping tool icon when you see it.
When Snipping Tool opens, click “New” to start a new capture.
Once done, you will see a small toolbar at the top of the screen (like the one seen in the “Capture a part of the screen” section above) that allows you to perform a rectangular cut, a freehand cut, a window cut, and capture in full screen. The difference here is that with the Snipping Tool app running, these tools don’t just copy the screenshot to the clipboard. Instead, you can save them to a file.
After capturing the screenshot using one of the methods in the toolbar, it will appear in the Snipping Tool window. You will have the opportunity to crop it, annotate it with a marker, save it as a file or share it with others using the toolbar at the top of the window.
Also, if you need to capture something with a delay, the Snipping Tool is ideal. Click the clock icon in the toolbar and select a time interval from the drop-down menu that appears.
After selecting the time, click the “New” button and a screenshot will activate after the selected time period. To save the file, click the save floppy disk icon on the toolbar and choose a location. Nice and easy!
Take a screenshot (or video) with the Xbox Game Bar
You can also take a screenshot or take a video using the Xbox Game Bar. To do this, first open the Xbox Game Bar by pressing Windows + g on your keyboard (or you can press the Xbox logo button on a connected Xbox controller). Once displayed, you can use the “Capture” widget to take screenshots in PNG format and videos in MP4 format.
If you don’t see the “Capture” window on the Xbox Game Bar screen, click the “Widgets” button in the toolbar at the top of the screen and select “Capture”.
In the Capture window (which appears in the upper left corner of the screen by default), click the camera icon to take a screenshot of the current app (or desktop, if no app is active).
Similarly, to record a video of the currently active app, click the record button (which looks like a small white dot within the circle of the larger gray button. Note that, for some reason, Windows 11 does not will allow you to record a video of File Explorer or desktop, only an active app.
To stop recording, click the square “Stop” button in the Xbox Game Bar floating toolbar or the Xbox Game Bar Capture widget.
After capture, the screenshots and videos will appear in yours
C:\Users\[username]\Videos\Capturesfolder. You can also review them in the “Gallery” widget within the Xbox Game Bar interface itself. When the capture is complete, click on an empty area of the screen or press Exit to close the Xbox Game Bar.
Use a third-party screenshot utility
Although the Windows operating system (OS) contains its own screenshot capabilities (as you saw above), you can gain new features and flexibility by installing a third-party screenshot program.