How to Take a Screenshot on a Laptop? [Windows and Mac]

You’re probably reading this title and you think that everyone knows how to take a screenshot.

I also used to think the same thing until I switched to using Windows PC and I needed to capture a portion of my screen for later reference, only to realize I was missing some features. 

Screenshots are not only convenient but are necessary to getting work done faster. You see, while different operating systems use different methods, the basic principle remains the same.

Today in this article, I’ll show you how to take a screenshot on your Windows or Mac laptop.

How to Take a Screenshot on Windows 10?

You have many options to work with if you want to capture what is on your laptop screen. 

Windows 10 come with in-built tools for taking screenshots – Snipping Tool, Game Bar, and Snip & Sketch – along with different keyboard shortcuts.

You can also install third-party applications. I’ll show you how you can use these Windows 10 tools, keyboard shortcuts, and third-party apps to take screenshots of the entire or part of your laptop screen. 

Using the Print Screen Key

PrtScn + MS Paint

Most of you probably don’t know what this button does. If you’re wondering which key is Print Screen, it is often abbreviated as PrtScn, PrtSc, or prt scr on keyboards.

To capture the screenshot of an entire screen, press the PrtScn key. 

Then, press the Windows key to open the Start menu and search for Microsoft Paint to open the app. Press Ctrl + V to paste the screenshot. You can now save the screenshot where you like on your laptop.

Windows + PrtScn keys

Another quick way to screenshot the entire screen on your laptop is by pressing the Windows + PrtScn buttons. 

Your screen will dim briefly (for less than a second) to indicate a screenshot has been taken. You can then find the screenshot saved in the Pictures library under the screenshots folder.

Just press Windows + E to open Computer or File Explorer and select Pictures on the left pane. Open the screenshot folder to find your saved screenshot. 

Windows + PrtScn keys

Alt + PrtScn keys

To screenshot the currently active window or an app you’ve just opened, click on the window or app to bring it to the foreground. This is applicable if you have multiple apps opened.

Now, press Alt + PrtScn keys, then open the MS Paint app to paste the screenshot of the window and click save.

Using Snip & Sketch

Snip & Sketch tool is easily accessible. You can open the app by pressing the keyboard shortcut Windows + Shift + S keys.

Or go to the Action Center in the notification panel and select Screen snip. This allows you to take a screenshot easily without starting the app.

You can also go to the Windows search box in the lower left of your taskbar, type Snip & Sketch, and hit Enter to start the app. If you regularly take screenshots, pin the app to the taskbar for quicker access whenever you need it. 

Pro tip: You can open the snip & sketch tool by pressing the PrtScn key once. To do this, go to Start>Settings>Ease of Access>Keyboard. Now turn on the ‘Print Screen Shortcut‘ option to use the PrtScn button to open screen snipping.

When you click the dropdown arrow, you will be given three options for when the screenshot toolbar appears. Snip now will bring the toolbar immediately, while snip in 3 and 10 seconds will have a time delay.

Snip & sketch tool

Click on New to bring up the overlay for the screenshot toolbar. Depending on what type of screenshot you want to take, you have five choices: rectangular, freeform, window, and full-screen snip.

Rectangular snip lets you drag your mouse and choose the area you want to capture and then let go. Freeform lets you draw out the area of your screenshot. The window snip captures the entire window of any app or programs visible on your screen by clicking into it. Full-screen snip captures everything on the screen. Once you’re done capturing your screenshot, you can mark it up using the annotation tools at the top and save it.

Using the Snipping Tool

You can still use Snipping Tool. However, Microsoft warns Snip & Sketch will soon replace it. It is easily accessible via the Windows search box. Its default snip is rectangular, although you can select other snips – free-form, window, full-screen snips – by clicking on the dropdown arrow. You will need to save your screenshot before exiting the app, as it does not automatically save the screen captures.

Snipping Tool

Using the Game Bar

The Game Bar is an overlay screenshot toolbar you use to capture screenshots of Windows 10 apps and when playing a game. Press Windows key + G to display Game Bar. Click on the Capture icon and then click Camera to take a screenshot.

You can also press Windows + Alt + PrtScn buttons to capture a screenshot of the active window. A notification will pop up saying the screenshot has been saved. 

If your Game Bar doesn’t open, go to the Start menu, click on Settings, select Gaming/Xbox Game bar, and then toggle on “Record game clips, screenshot, and broadcast using the Game bar.” From there, you can also set your own keyboard shortcut for opening Game Bar and taking a screenshot.

Windows game bar

Using Third-Party Apps

Using Windows 10 built-in screenshot tools have its limitations. However, there are third-party apps, each with its own unique features, that will help take your screenshots to the next level.

ShareX is the best screenshot utility. It is a completely free, open-source app with several ways of taking screenshots. It is the most feature-packed screenshot tool of any free screen capture tool you can get. It has a built-in editor and keyboard shortcuts for taking screenshots.

ShareX Screenshot

Greenshot is an open-source tool that for several years was a favorite for many when doing a screen capture. For those of you who need a simple tool, it’s still one of the best.

Lightshot is a free screenshot tool good for simple uses like highlighting stuff, adding arrows and boxes, and even text as well to screen captures. It is available in both Windows and Mac and is recommended to those who don’t do a lot of editing.

LightShot download page

Other screenshot apps include TinyTake (available for both Windows and Mac), Monosnap, PicPick, and Screenpresso

How to Take a Screenshot on Mac?

There are different keyboard shortcuts you can use to screenshot your Mac laptop screen.

Press Shift + Command + 3 at the same time to capture the entire screen. A screenshot thumbnail will appear on the bottom-right of the screen. There, you can either click to edit the screenshot or save it on your desktop as it is.

Screenshot on Mac 1

Press Shift + Command + 4 to capture a portion of your screen. This will turn your pointer into a cross-hair. Move the cross-hair where you want to capture the screenshot. You can then click and drag it over the highlighted area and release the mouse. You can press the Escape key to stop taking the screenshot.

Screenshot on Mac 2

To capture a window, press Shift + Command + 4 + Space bar. This will change the pointer to a camera icon which you can move over to the window or menu and confirm it is selected. Click your mouse to take the screenshot. Your screenshot will be saved to the desktop. If you hold Control as you use these shortcuts, they’ll save to your clipboard instead.

Screenshot on Mac 3

Press Shift + Command + 5 to open the screenshot toolbar on your Mac. You will find the control for taking a screenshot on the left-hand side. You can choose to capture the entire screen, a part of the screen, or a single window. You can click Options to find features like setting a screenshot timer and changing your save location.

Screenshot on Mac 4

How to Take a Screenshot on Chromebook?

Chromebook keyboards are a little different from Windows or Mac laptops, which can be confusing for new Chromebook users. However, there are a few keyboard shortcuts you need to know to take screenshots. Here’s how.

To capture the entire screen, hit Ctrl + Switch window

To screenshot a portion of the screen, hit Ctrl + Shift + Switch window. The cursor will temporarily change to cross-hair. Click and drag the crosshair over the area you want to capture and let go.

How to Take a Screenshot on a Chromebook

All the screenshots will be saved in the Downloads folder.

If you had a problem sharing error messages with support services or saving temporary images and texts, then I guess you now know how. Screenshots can be helpful for various reasons that are specific to you. If you enjoyed this guide, share your thoughts in the comment section below. 

Chris Martin is a professional tech writer. He's been covering tech tutorials, hardware reviews, and more as a professional writer for over seven years now and it doesn't look like he'll be stopping anytime soon! In addition to writing about the latest gadgets on the market, he also covers topics such as how to set up your home network or troubleshoot any computer problems you may have.

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