How To Take Awesome Screenshots In Windows 7
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<firstimage=”//”>screenshot windowsIn principle, taking a screenshot is very simple. With the right technique however, you can save yourself a lot of time and hassle and greatly improve the look of your screenshots.

As a technology writer I frequently rely on screenshots to visually demonstrate what I’m trying to explain. To get my point across, it’s important that I take no nonsense screenshots with clear markings. Apart from that, I have to fulfill certain criteria, for example the screenshot width, image format, and file size. Over time I have acquired quite a routine. In this article I want to show you the basics of taking a screenshot in Windows 7 and share my experience with you, so that taking and working with screenshots will become a breeze for you too.

The Basics

I bet you all know that you can take a screenshot of your entire computer screen by clicking the Print Screen or PrtScrn button on your keyboard. Depending your keyboard, you might have to click a function (FN) key in combination with the [PrtScrn] button.

screenshot windows

Now did you know that you can take a screenshot of only the currently selected window by holding down the [ALT] key at the same time as clicking [Print Screen]? This is quite handy if you want to save yourself some cropping.

By the way, the [Print Screen] button is called that and not screenshot because back in the days before Windows, clicking this button would actually print the current screen.

Where Is My Screenshot?

In case you didn’t know, clicking this button loads an image of the entire screen (a screenshot) into your Windows clipboard. From there you can paste it into an image editing tool to work with it, e.g. crop or annotate it. So what do you do once you have taken a screenshot?

To save or work with a screenshot in Windows 7, you need to paste it into an image editing program. Simply open the program of your choice, for example Paint, eventually open a new file, then click [CTRL] + [V] to paste your screenshot from the clipboard. From there you can edit it and save it as an image file.

You can use any image editor or even Word. Personally, I prefer IrfanView. It’s a lightweight but powerful tool that allows you to view, crop, resize, and batch process image files. In fact, all I use to create my screenshots is the above mentioned buttons and IrfanView. You can read more about IrfanView here:

I save all my screenshot images as PNG (portable network graphics), a format optimized for transferring images on the Internet.

Windows 7 Snipping Tool

If you’re not comfortable with manually taking a screenshot and pasting it into an application for editing and/or saving or if you often take partial screenshots and want to save time cropping the image, you should try the Windows 7 Snipping Tool. You can find it under > Start > All Programs > Accessories > Snipping Tool.

windows 7 screenshot

You can select from taking a free-form Snip, a rectangular Snip, a Windows Snip (same as [ALT] + [PrtScrn]), or a Full-screen Snip (same as just [PrtScrn]). The partial screenshot is pretty neat and something you cannot easily do with the manual method described above.

windows 7 screenshot

When you’re done taking your screenshot, the image is opened in the Snipping Tool editing window. Here you can draw with a pen, highlight elements, copy the image for further editing elsewhere, or save it.

screenshot windows

You can do all that and more with IrfanView and other tools. For simple screenshots in Windows, however, you may find it more comfortable to work with the Snipping Tool.

5 Tips For Optimizing Your Screenshots

  1. Avoid Resizing
    When you resize a screenshot image, it tends to become fuzzy and text will be hard to read. Rather than resizing…
  2. Crop Images
    This way you eliminate things you don’t really want to show. Use the [ALT] + [PrtScrn] key combination to capture only the current window, then crop further.
  3. Annotate
    With annotating I mean highlighting key elements in your screenshot, for example by pointing an arrow to a certain position, circling a button, or highlighting text. You can also add text comments. If you’re using IrfanView, go to > Edit > Show Paint dialog to get a menu with the respective features (also shown in screenshot above).
  4. Edit to Perfection
    Sometimes you take a screenshot of something and there is an add in the middle. To enhance your screenshot, cut it out. You can also cut out superfluous space and make your screenshot more compact than what you see on the screen. In IrfanView for example, you can easily copy and paste selected parts of your image and thus re-arrange it.
  5. Use Dedicated Screenshot Software
    There are lots of great screenshot tools out there. Some are free, others not. Our Managing Editor Mark swears on SnagIt (not free). I would recommend Screenpresso. Our writer Jessica, who edits her screenshots to absolute perfection, also uses FastStone Capture 5.3.

For more screenshot tips and tricks, check out the following articles:

How often do you actually take screenshots and what technique have you been using so far? Do you wish the Print Screen button would actually still print the current screen?

Explore more about: Image Editor, Screen Capture, Windows 7.

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  1. Michael Scott
    July 9, 2016 at 7:11 pm

    Use Awesome Screenshot. It's amazing. Just download it as a Chrome (or other browser extension) and put the button beside your address bar for real handy screenshots.
    Shoot the entire, visible screen or just selected areas.
    Crop and highlight or add annotation. Great program. Google it.

  2. Jeffrey Cox
    January 7, 2016 at 7:14 pm

    Thanks for this article. I ran across it Googling for an answer to something that is bugging me.

    I was putting together a presentation in Google Slides recently, and was taking screen shots of different things and pasting them into the presentation. For example, one of Google Maps so I could have a picture of a state. The screenshot was simply not as clear as the original. i.e., it was not as sharp. If you ALT+TAB between Slides and the Browser, you saw a notable difference.

    I didn't resize it.

    I've seen this working with some web site projects also.

    Does anyone have any ideas? Doesn't Print Screen take an exact copy of the screen?

    • Tina Sieber
      January 27, 2016 at 6:48 pm

      Did you adjust the native screen resolution or text scaling? That can lead to blurry screenshots in Windows 8 and 10. But you're probably using Windows 7.

      Maybe Google Slides does something to the images. What happens when you paste / import them to a desktop program?

  3. Ben
    July 7, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    I use Zscreen (  It offers tons of options, including support for image uploading sites, hotkeys, and rounded corners and dropshadow for active windows in Vista/7.

  4. Paul
    July 7, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    WinSnap is good too.

  5. Mark
    July 7, 2011 at 3:33 am

    At my work, I've tried using Win7 Snip tool, but it seems rather clunky. (It seems easier at home.)  Also, my IT Nazis have everything locked down, can't install anything, so using IrfanView won't ever happen.  Are there any good similar apps that could run off of a USB drive?

    • Dan
      July 7, 2011 at 4:09 am

      Google for IrfanView Portable, you can find a few packages. I myself prefer Hornil StylePix (portable) for light image editing needs. Other image editing apps you might be interested in are Artweaver and Fotografix, which are also portable. Although, truth be told, MS Paint (Win7 version) is more than capable if you just need to touch up or paste screenshots.

      BTW, there's also LightScreen Portable, which is a screen capture tool.

      • Tina
        July 7, 2011 at 1:35 pm

        Thanks for the suggestion, Dan!

    • Tina
      July 7, 2011 at 1:35 pm

      You can get portable IrfanView here: However, it's more of a universal image editor than a screenshot tool.

      PicPick is another portable screenshot utility that may work for you:

  6. Ivan kolevski
    July 7, 2011 at 12:19 am

    Good selection of screen capturing tools. I prefer using Picpick. Have used it for over 1 year and it does excellent job. Much better than any other tool out there. Picpick is freeware.

    Ivan K.

    • Tina
      July 7, 2011 at 12:30 am

      Thanks for sharing, Ivan!