How to Take the Perfect Screenshot in Windows

Christian Cawley 23-05-2016

You probably know how to take a screenshot in Windows, but how do you make it perfect? How can you get the exact element that you wish to illustrate?


The process for taking a screenshot differs slightly from version to version. Here, we’re looking at how to take a screenshot in Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and Windows 10.

How to Make Windows 7 Screenshots

In Windows 7, you can use the Print Screen key to capture the full screen or the ALT + Print Screen key combinations to capture only the active window. The latter will save you from cropping the image later.

In Windows 7 (and earlier) you can capture the entire desktop by pressing the Print Screen key. Understand that the image is stored in memory, specifically in the clipboard 5 Tips to Manage Your Windows Clipboard Like a Pro Better known as Copy & Paste, a tool for students to lift passages from Wikipedia, the Clipboard can save you loads of typing time. We'll show you how to use it like a pro. Read More , and if you press Print Screen again, the original capture is overwritten. The best thing to do is open up an app, such as Word, or Microsoft Paint How to Edit and Enhance Screenshots Using MS Paint Here's how to edit a screenshot using Microsoft Paint so you can edit screenshots on Windows 10 without extra software. Read More , and use the Paste function to copy it into the app before saving.

Windows 7 features a rudimentary version of the Snipping Tool, which can also be used to capture screenshots. Our collection of tips and tricks for making screenshots in Windows 7 How To Take Awesome Screenshots In Windows 7 In 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. In this article I... Read More tells you more about this.

Making Screenshots in Windows 8 and 8.1

With Windows 8 and its immediate successor, Windows 8.1, a new system was put in place for capturing screenshots. Windows + Print Screen (or on some laptops, Windows + Fn + Print Screen) is a good option, and can often be better (and quicker) than using the Snipping Tool You've Been Taking Screenshots the Slow Way All This Time Screenshots are slow if you're using Print Screen and Paint. Here's a built-in tool that's faster and more convenient! Read More . With Windows + Print Screen, the image is immediately saved into a PNG file in the C:\Users\[USERNAME]\Pictures\Screenshots folder.


The same is largely true for Windows 10.

Note that the previously mentioned ALT + Print Screen keyboard shortcut by default also captures the area around the active window. It looks quite untidy, but can be fixed. In Windows 8, 8.1, or 10, click the Windows key, type advanced system settings, and open the respective option. Under Performance, click the Settings… button, disable the Show shadows under windows setting, and click OK to save your changes.

How to Take a Screenshot in Windows 10

With Windows 10, the Snipping Tool has been developed further, and is preferable to using the old ALT + Print Screen key combination for capturing sections of the desktop. (ALT + Print Screen is still limited to capturing the active window, and retaining a single image in the clipboard.)



In Windows 10, the Windows + Print Screen combination is still quicker for capturing an image on the fly, but the time taken to capture and edit a screenshot can be quicker with Snipping Tool.

You can find the Snipping Tool in Windows 10 and Windows 8 by pressing Start + Q and typing snip. The first option should be Snipping Tool. In Windows 7, Snipping Tool is in Start > All Programs > Accessories > Snipping Tool.

The Game Bar

For a more convenient alternative in Windows 10 — as well as a tool that can capture images from video games — you should take a look at the Game Bar, which can be initiated by hitting Windows + G, and checking the box labelled Yes, this is a game. Once this is done, you can click the screen capture button in the Game Bar (or press Windows + Alt + Print Screen), which is then saved in the Videos/Captures folder (regardless of whether you’ve captured a video or an image).



Note that if you want to automatically save the image to OneDrive How to Save Windows 10 Screenshots Straight to OneDrive If you're taking lots of screenshots in Windows, it's a good idea to put them in OneDrive automatically so you don't lose them. Read More in case of accidental loss, you can. If you prefer to disable this, however, click on the OneDrive cloud icon in the system tray and select Settings, then Auto save. From here, clear the checkbox against Automatically save screenshots I capture to OneDrive, and click OK.

Print Screen images can also be saved to Dropbox If Your PrintScreen Key Isn't Working, It Might Be Dropbox Dropbox is useful, but for some reason its desktop app hijacks your PrintScreen key. Here's how to shut that off and get its normal functionality back. Read More , although this can prove an unwanted interruption.

Using a Tablet? Try This for Windows Screenshots

Windows 8 and Windows 10 tablet users without keyboards have their own shortcuts for capturing screenshots. They’re pretty handy, and are similar to the Android approach of making screeners 5 Best Android Apps for Taking Better Screenshots Sure, you can take basic screenshots on your Android phone or tablet -- but you could be doing so much more. Read More .

Whether you’re using a Surface Pro 4 or some low budget alternative, screenshots on Windows 8 and 10 tablets can be made with the Windows button + volume down key, pressed simultaneously. The resulting screenshot will be saved to the default C:\Users\[YourUserName]\Pictures\Screenshots folder.



Windows 8/8.1 tablet users can also use the Charms bar in a pinch, by swiping in from the right edge and selecting Share. Here, you have the option to share a screenshot, which will then be opened in a compatible Windows Store app of your choice. If you prefer, however, you can simply share it to the Mail app and email it.

Troubleshooting Screenshots in Windows 8 and Windows 10

You may run into issues capturing screenshots made with the Windows + Print Screen button in Windows 8 and 10. Fortunately, most of these issues can be fixed.

Images Not Saving? Try This!

If screenshots are not automatically saving to C:\Users\[YourUserName]\Pictures\Screenshots, you can still use the Print Screen button and paste (Ctrl + V) into an image editor or Word document. To resolve the issue of the screenshots not saving, however, you’ll need to open the Registry Editor.

Press Windows + R and enter regedit. Next, click OK to open the Registry Editor, and navigate manually, or using search, to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer. In the right-hand pane, look for ScreenshotIndex; it should be missing, as its absence is the reason for your screenshots not being saved.


To create this missing entry, right-click in an empty space in the right-hand pane and select New > DWORD Value. Double click to assign a name of ScreenshotIndex, and set the Decimal Value data to 695. Click OK to confirm, and then navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders. Here, find the string {B7BEDE81-DF94-4682-A7D8-57A52620B86F} and double click it to open, confirming that the Value data reads %USERPROFILE%\Pictures\Screenshots.


If all matches up, click OK, close the Registry Editor, and reboot Windows.

Resetting the Counter

Images captured using Windows + Print Screen are saved automatically in Pictures/Screenshots, in PNG format with sequential filenames (eg. Screenshot (604).png).


If you’re regularly in and out of this directory to copy, edit, and delete images, this can prove problematic when it comes to finding new images. You can sort by date and time, but even then, if you’re looking for a specific image, it can be hard to find if the numbering system is out.

To overcome this, you can reset the counter on these images. Do this by pressing Windows + R and type regedit, then click OK. In the Registry Editor, find HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer, and once selected, find ScreenshotIndex in the right-hand pane. Right-click this, select Edit DWORD (32-bit) Value, and in the Value data box change the current value to 1.


Click OK when you’re done, and exit the Registry Editor. With this change made, images will begin either from 1 or the next-lowest number.

Edit the Screenshot Folder Location

By default, your screenshots will be saved to C:\Users\[YourUserName]\Pictures\Screenshots. However, you may wish to move this. Right-click on the Screenshots folder icon and select the Location > Move button.


Use this to navigate to the new target, and click Apply when you’re done. You can also paste a new file path into the field and click Apply.

Click OK to close the Properties box. From this point, all screenshots will be saved to the newly-specified location. If you wish to reset this back to the default option, reopen the Properties box, click Location and then Restore Default.

What Next for Your Screenshots?

Once your image is captured, you can edit it in any number of Windows-compatible image manipulation tools. If you have a lot of images that require editing en masse, however, batch editing tools that offer resizing, conversion, and renaming features, are also available.

Meanwhile, if you’re finding the native Windows print screen options a bit limited, consider some third party options 4 Best Tools For Creating Screenshots Compared CTRL + SHIFT + 4. Three keys - that's all you need for perfect screenshots. It doesn't need to be a hassle! Try these advanced screen capturing tools and you won't ever look back. Read More . Oh, and don’t forget that Snipping Tool and the Windows Key + Print Screen shortcut are no good for capturing images from video games. Instead, you’ll need to use the Game Bar or various third party alternatives How to Take Videos & Screenshots of Games in Windows You want to document your game progress, but when you hit PrtSc on your keyboard, all you get is a snapshot of your desktop? Here's how to take video game screenshots. Read More .

What do you use for screenshots in Windows? Do you prefer Windows + Print Screen or the Game Bar? Perhaps you have a third party solution you always rely on. Tell us about it in the comments!

Related topics: Screen Capture, Windows 10, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1.

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  1. Anonymous
    August 15, 2016 at 4:46 pm

    Good read. Thank you for your time. I have need to capture more than just the screen i.e. the entire page.) I understand I could use a clipping program or edit print function. I don't want to reduce clutter by adding extensions/add-ons like pocket or edit print programs. I would like to have an easy screen capture for the page. (LOL screen ? page.) Any ides on how this can be accomplished with the print screen programs?

  2. Dennis Primm
    May 24, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    I'm running Win 10 Home (64-bit) and all my screenshots default to "OneDrive\Screenshots", which aggravated me. Now I know how to change it to my Pictures folder.

    Thank you very much for this informative article!

  3. Christian Cawley
    May 23, 2016 at 6:01 pm

    This is a superb suggestion, I really couldnt agree more!

  4. me
    May 23, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    It is time for screen shooting to move forward. I have yet to find an utility to do this, but screen shooting programs seem to have forgotten about EXIF, XMP and other forms of metadata. It is possible to get the name of the program, being captured, and possibly other information about it. If it interfaced with the steam API you could have tons of information the user could choose to embed.

    Then instead of screenshot ####.png or jpg, you can now search for pictures from Fallout 4 and narrow it down by other features. It could even pre-tag the images, to a certain degree.

    Obviously give the user an opt out/in option for those concern with privacy.