How to Take a Picture of Your Screen

There are many points in the course of using a computer where it would be extremely useful to be able to take a picture of your screen. Maybe you'd like to share a picture from a game or application you're using, or that you've made. Maybe you've been seeing error messages or weird behavior while performing certain functions, and would like to show a tech professional exactly what's happening. Whatever the reason, taking a picture of your screen is very easy to do, and these pictures are quite easy to edit or otherwise manipulate them for your needs.

How to do a still screen capture

When you see a screen that you wish to capture on your computer, all you have to do to take a picture is hit the "print screen" key. You can find this key in the upper right-hand corner of your keyboard on most standard and laptop boards labeled as "Prnt Scrn." Nothing visible will happen when you hit this key.

Next, open either a graphics creation/editing tool such as Paint, or a rich text word processor. Click in the screen to activate your cursor in the area you wish to place the picture of your screen. Now hit CTRL+V, or right-click and then click "paste" on the menu that pops up. You will now see your screen capture, and can edit it however you like. Click "save," and then use the drop-down menu in the save box to select the file type you wish the screen capture to become. It can now be used like any other file of your chosen type.

How to screencast

If a still picture of your screen doesn't quite fill your needs, you can take a video clip of whatever is happening on your screen. This can include not only a live capture of whatever you're doing on your computer at the time, but you can also add audio in the form of music, or your own voice through a microphone or headphones.

First, you will have to download the right software to do this screen capture. There are many different options available on the Internet for low cost, and several at no cost. The free options may come with some limited functionality, such as a limited length that each video clip can be. If you have a very short clip or know how to edit video to string several clips together, this may not be an issue. Go to your preferred search engine and search for "screen capture software" or "screencast software." Select the option that appears to most closely fit your needs.

Once you have a screencast program downloaded on your computer, then you can begin the video capture. Most software will allow you to choose a section of your screen to capture. You can either do all of it, or arrange the portion that you want to capture into a smaller box so that you have some off-screen space to run other programs or do other work without it being recorded. Save your video clip, and make sure to research the different video formats so that you know which file type best suits your purposes. You can now edit the video, or upload it to online video servers to share with others.

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