Have you heard the term “screenshot” lately? It is one of the greatest things since—you name it. A screenshot is a digital image of what your screen looks like at any given moment, just as if you had taken a picture of it with a digital camera. The ability to take a screenshot has been around for quite a while (30+ years), and it is a great thing for helping solve problems for someone who isn’t in the same room with you. You can send the image by email to a support person who can then tell you what you need to do to fix your problem. You can also use a screenshot (or several of them) to show someone else how to do something. So that’s just great—now you need to know HOW to create one, right?
Well, for a PC it’s pretty straightforward. Most keyboards have a print screen button somewhere along the top row. It usually shares the button location with Sys Rq. “Print screen” may be written out or abbreviated as “Prt Scr” or something similar. The key harks back to the good old days before graphical interface (the pictures we see on the computer screens) when pressing the key actually just sent whatever text was on the screen to your printer to be printed. (I often used it to print an index of files on my floppy disk.)
Here’s how you do it on most PCs. You hold down the Shift key AND the Prt Scr key (Shift+PrtScr) at the same time. The computer copies a pretty picture of your screen onto the clipboard, ready to paste into any program. If you are going to email the image to someone, you can just paste it into your email by pressing Ctrl+V. If you need to send it through Skype, you’ll need to turn it into a file by pasting it into a photo or word processing program and saving the file to your hard drive. Then you can drag the file onto your Skype window, and off it goes!
For a Mac, the process is a little different, but maybe even easier. To get the picture of your screen onto the clipboard for pasting into a program, you press Command+Control+Shift+3 and then paste away. If you need it as a file anyway, you can leave out the Control key from the process. Command+Shift+3 will create a .png file of your screen and put it on your desktop all in one easy step, as long as your fingers are coordinated!
Just so you know, there are programs out there that will create your screenshots and save them to a file for you. Some can even copy just portions of your screen to a file. Whether or not you need those programs depends on how much you use screenshots and what you use them for. Personally, PrtScr has worked for me for about 30 years. I don’t do a lot of screenshots, but if I were creating a lot of tutorials, I might look into one of these programs.