Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tech Tip: Capturing an Image on Your Computer Screen

How to take a screen shot

Taking a screen shot (also known as a screen capture) is essentially having the computer take a picture of what is on the screen. There are countless times when it is easier to show someone what is on your computer screen than to explain it in words over the phone or in an email. For example, if you are trying to teach someone how to use a new program through email, or you are having technical problems and need to show your IT person what is going on, or you are writing an article/report on a software program and want to show examples of what it can do, sharing a screen shot will help!


Taking a full screen shot is easy. Simply press the Print Screen button on your keyboard (on laptops it may be abbreviated i.e. PrtSc). This puts a picture of your screen in the computer’s clipboard, which is exactly the same as when you copy text or an image. Then you can open a program like Word, Notepad, Paint, or Outlook and paste it with either Control – V or right click – Paste. If you just want a screen shot of the current program you are using, hold down Alt when you press Print Screen.

If you want to edit the screen shot, use a paint or image editing program. In paint you can do things like draw arrows or circles to point something out, or you can crop the screen shot to include only the details you want.


On the Mac there are two ways to take screen shots. First, there is a program that comes on every Mac called Grab. You can find it in the folder Applications – Utilities. With grab you can capture pictures of the whole screen, the front-most window, a selected area, or you can even do a timed countdown capture.

Second, you can use these shortcuts:

*Hold down the command key(or apple key on older computers) and the shift key, then press the number 3 to take a picture of the entire screen and save it on the desktop.


*Hold down the command key and shift key, then press the number 4 which turns your cursor into crosshairs which you can click and drag to select an area of the screen to capture. You will hear a shutter sound when an image is captured using either shortcut.

If you want to edit the picture just double click on the picture to open it in Preview, a program that opens image and pdf files. It comes pre-loaded on a Mac. With Preview you can crop the photo or use the annotation tools to make circles and arrows on the picture.

iPhone/iPod Touch

You can even take screen shots on your iPhone or iPod Touch too. Simply press both the home button and the sleep button at the same time. The screen should flash white and you will find the screen shot with the rest of your pictures

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