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How to do a Screen Capture

A “screen capture” is an instant snapshot of the active computer screen preserved as an image file. Screen captures are useful in preparing presentations, writing articles that illustrate steps in a process, or simply obtaining a “frozen moment in time” on some computer application work. For PC users there are now three ways to “capture” a screen image: (1) through the “PrtScr” key, (2) Using the Windows 7 Clipping Tool, or (3) the Microsoft Office 2010 Word and PowerPoint’s new “Screenshot” import key. Mac users can do a screen shot from the OS X “Preview” application by opening the File/Take Screen Shot menu. The process results in an instant, ready-to-use image file.

Since the screen capture process in Windows is a bit more complicated, this article will focus on the three ways to do a screen capture for Windows PC users:

Using the “Print Screen” method.

To do a screen capture of the entire screen, press the “PrtScr” key in the upper right of the PC keyboard. To capture just an active window, hold down the alt-key and press the “PrtScr” key. Windows copies the screen (or window if you pressed alt) to its clipboard. It is ready to insert (as long as nothing else replaces it before it is inserted). The screen capture can then be pasted (use Control-V for a quick paste) into other applications as a graphics file. To convert the format of the file to a more web-friendly size, paste the screen capture into the Microsoft Paint application and save the file in the desired format (.jpg, .png, etc.). To crop (just use part of) the resulting screen capture, also use the Windows Paint application.

Using the Windows 7 Snipping Tool.

Windows 7 comes with a neat little tool that is placed on the start menu as a scissors icon. (The Snipping Tool icon is also in the Accessories folder, accessible through the “>All Programs” button on the bottom of the Start menu.) Clicking on the Snipping Tool activates a select box allowing “snipping” of all or any part of the active screen. Letting up on the left click completes the selection and opens a new window with the snipped portion of the selection. From this point, the selection can be copied for insertion into another Windows application, or the selection can be saved as an image file (.png., jpeg, .gif or .html).

Microsoft Office 2010’s new “Screenshot” import feature.

Microsoft Word and PowerPoint 2010 editions have a new feature called “Screenshot.” This feature allows a quick insertion (capture) of any open window of your desktop. The feature is located in the Word 2010 Insert tab, Illustrations group. For PowerPoint, go to the Insert tab, Images group. The feature will instantly import any open (not minimized) Window on the desktop into Word or PowerPoint. The feature will NOT import an image of the desktop with no active windows. (Use the PrtScr key or the Windows 7 Snipping Tool for desktop screen captures with no open windows.)

For more information on screen shots, see the following:

• About.com: Graphics Software, “How To Capture a Screen Shot of your Desktop or the Active Window in Windows.”

• Windows 7 features: “Snipping Tool.”

• Mac’s Find out how: “Capture Screen Shots”

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