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Taking a Screen Capture/Screenshot

(To take a screenshot on Windows 10, see here, or on MacOS, see here.)

Windows has an in-built ability to take a “capture” of the current screen as a bitmap image. This can be useful for troubleshooting, or constructing training notes and so on because the image can be pasted directly into a word processing, image editing or email program.

Capturing the Image

  1. Set up the screen so it shows what you want.

    Hint: it is sometimes handy to include the mouse cursor in the image, or to exclude it from the image. Move the mouse cursor into or out of position as required.

  2. To capture the entire desktop, press the key PrtScr (PrintScreen).

    To capture only the contents of the foreground window, press Alt-PrtScr.

    (Note: in some cases Alt-PrtScr will capture the entire display, not the foreground window. This may happen if a program is running which captures the Alt key for its own purposes. If you find Alt-PtrScr is not working, close some programs. For example, Serif Photo Plus can cause this behaviour.)

    At this point the image has been copied to the clipboard but nothing else appears to happen.

    NB. On some keyboards, such as laptops, it might be neccesary to use Fn key, as PtrScr might be combined with another key, such as Insert. In this situation the keystroke would be Fn-PrtScr or Fn-Alt-PrtScr.

Saving the Image

Creating an Image File

The best image file format for a screenshot is PNG, as it preserves the pixels and colours accurately. BMP format is also of high quality, but creates very large, unwieldy files. JPGs are generally not optimal for screenshots and will create fuzzy edges.

  1. Click Start, Run and type MSPAINT.

  2. Press Ctrl-V or use Edit, Paste to paste the image.

  3. Choose File, Save As and change Save As Type to PNG (*.png).

Microsoft Word

  1. Open Microsoft Word.

  2. Position the cursor at the desired location and press Ctrl-V (Paste) or from the menu use Edit, Paste to paste the image into the document.

  3. The image may be resized as required by manipulating the handles on the edges and corners. Drag the corners to maintain the aspect ratio.


Not all email programs can support an embedded image. In any case, it is generally more useful to save the screen image as a file (as above) and attach the file. However, to paste an image:

  1. Open a message and change the format to Rich Text or HTML.

  2. Position the cursor in the message body and press Ctrl-V.

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