The Art of the Screen Capture

What is a Screen Capture?

A Screen capture, which is also referred to as a screen shot, is the act of capturing what is displayed on your computer screen and saving it in an image format.

There are many ways to take screen shots, from basic button combinations on  Windows and Macintosh  systems to multiple different screen capture programs that are available to download for free.

How to Take a Screen Capture on a Mac:

Creating a screen capture on a Macintosh system is just a combinations of 3 simple buttons:

    1. To take a screen shot on a Macintosh you press Command, Shift, and the number 3. The image will be placed on your desktop with a file name that looks something like the following: “Screen shot 2014-01-25 at 08.45.00 AM.png”

This is an image of the Mac Command button. + This is an image of the Mac shift button. + This is an image of the mac numeral 3 button.

  1. To take a screen shot of only a certain area of your Macintosh screen you will follow close to the same button combination as before. The only variation will be pressing the number 4 instead of the number 3. Again, the file will be saved on your desktop.

This is an image of the Mac Command button. + This is an image of the Mac shift button. + This is an image of the Mac numeral 4 button.

How to Take a Screen Capture on Windows:

The first step is the find the “Print Screen” button on your keyboard. Usually, it is located right near the backspace button. The text on this button is usually abbreviated to “prt sc” or a close variation. Creating a screen capture on a Windows operating system is a fairly easy task.

    1. This is an image of the Windows print screen button.To capture a screen shot, you must press the Print Screen button. This will copy what is currently on your screen to your clipboard.
    2. Now you must paste this screen capture into a program. Paint is recommended because it comes pre-installed to every Windows system.

Microsoft Paint

  1. After you paste the screen shot into Paint you can save it as an image.

What Are A Few Common Screen Capture Programs and How Do You Use Them?

Snipping Tool (Windows)This is an image of the Snipping tool icon.
One of the most popular screen capture programs for the Windows systems is Snipping Tool. It comes pre-installed in Windows 7 and up. Snipping tool is a simple tool to use.

    1. Once you have found it on your system and have opened it, it will pop up its menu that looks like this:

This is an image of the Snipping tool menu panel.

  1. Once the menu is open, click new and make a selection of what you need to make a screen shot of.
  2. Once your selection has been made, a new window will appear where you can preview your selection. If your selection is to your liking, you will hit File>Save As, name your file, and place it where you will be able to find it later.

Jing (Windows/Mac)

Jing is a screen capture program that is available for both Windows and Mac systems.

For Jing you will need to create an account. This is because this program allows you to host your images on a site called

This is an image of the Jing sun rays menu.

  1. After installing the program, you will see a little “sun” at the top of your screen while the program is open. When you mouse over the icon, three rays will appear. One of the rays will have cross-hairs; this is the capture option.
  2. Click on Capture
  3. Select an area of your screen to capture
  4. At this point, you can either save it to your computer, copy it to your clipboard to paste elsewhere, or you can share it to

Adobe Photoshop (Windows/Mac)

Photoshop is not commonly thought of as a program that is used for taking screen captures, but it can prove to be very useful while working on projects in Photoshop. It gives you the ability to take a quick snapshot of what you are working on while making major changes so you can reference back to what your image previously looked like.

  1. Select New Snapshot from the panel pop up menu
  2. In the name box, enter a name for the snapshot. Use a name that will help you remember what the contents of the sceenshot are.
  3. If you would like, you can select a snapshot subtype in the the “From” menu.
    • If you select full document, it will create a snapshot of all layers of the image in the current
      state and will keep you layers separate.
    • If you select merged layers, it will merge all your layers into a single layer.
    • The final option is just taking a snapshot of the layer you are currently on.
  4. Finally, you can click “Ok” to create a snapshot.

There is an endless selection of screen capture programs available to chose from, but it is always recommended to do research of the screen capture program you are looking into using so you know what all the characteristics of it are. For the everyday user, a free screen capture program is always recommended.

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