Article: Printscreen One Powerful Button

by Steve Perlow


Printscreen One Powerful Button

On the upper right of your keyboard you almost certainly have a key that looks something like:



Forget about the SysRq key for now, it wont do much good unless your running Linux and doing more in Linux than just using your computer for day to day tasks. The print screen key however, is a very valuable tool for everyone running Microsoft Windows.

Have you ever wanted to show someone exactly what is on your screen? Maybe you have an error message and the easiest way to describe it is to simply show someone the message. With Print Screen you can.

Just give it a try. Hit Print Screen on your keyboard. You may notice a very brief pause on the screen, or you my not, it isnt important. Now open up any image editing program. I usually just use Microsoft Paint (Start Menu? Programs?accessories?Paint), because it comes with windows. You can use any image editor you are comfortable with.

Now go to Edit?Paste, and you should get your screen capture pasted into Paint.



You may already be thinking how simple and powerful this button is, and youre right. There is just a little more to it.

Page 2, shrinking your screen

The image so far is probably much too big to be useful. Its a copy of your whole screen, so it takes up your whole screen. Itd be a very large file to email in this state. Thankfully its simple to resize the image.

In Paint, just go up to Image?Stretch/Skew, as shown here:



If you want the image to be half the size, put in 50 for horizontal AND vertical. Remember, if you only change one, the image will be out of proportion and may not look right. Make the image whatever size you want, and you can now save your image.

One important point is to save your image as a file format other than bitmap or bmp. Either JPEG or GIF should work well.


A bitmap file is very large and impractical in most cases for sharing with others. It saves every bit of color information about a picture, which can be useful in some cases, but most likely you want the compression offered by one of the other formats. It cant hurt to try both and see the difference.



Page 3, Window Capture

Using the above method, its easy to capture an entire screen. Its also not hard to use the simple selection tools in Paint to save just part of your screen, for example, just one window. If that is your goal, there is actually an even easier way.

Alt Print Screen

Holding Alt on the bottom of your keyboard while pressing Print Screen will copy just the active window. So in our example if you click somewhere on the aworldofhelp webpage in internet explorer, then hit Alt Print Screen you would get just that window, not anything else that was in the way, or your task bar at the bottom of the screen. Ive selected just the System Properties box instead using this method.



One could easily send this image to someone, so it was perfectly clear what you are talking about.

Alt Print Screen is extremely useful in the workplace. It can be used to send actually copies of an error message to a helpdesk (Then they should have no excuse not to fix your problem).

In another example you may know how to do something no one else does. Instead of just writing a text guide line by line, you could include images of steps along the way. A guide like this is often significantly easier to use, and absolutely looks nicer.






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