A screenshot is the best evidence for showing what is displayed on your laptop screen. Whether you want to showcase a video game moment, capture a funny post, or illustrate a technical problem to the tech team, a picture of whatever is displayed on your screen will get you covered.

So how do you take a screenshot?

This article will take you through four easy ways to get it done. Two of them do not require you to install any program.

Method 1: Windows Hot-Keys and shortcuts

Windows comes with inbuilt functions for taking screenshots on any PC. We will specifically look at hotkeys, keyboard short-cuts, and a dedicated screenshot app.

The PrtScn key

The PrtScn (Print Screen) key is the simplest method of taking a full-screen screenshot.

When you press this key, your laptop takes a picture of what is displayed on your screen and stores it in the clipboard. You won’t view any activity on pressing the key, so don’t feel confused when nothing happens.

If your laptop has a function (Fn) key, use this combination Fn + PrtScn.

To view your screenshot, paste it in a program that processes images such as Microsoft word.

Pasting a screenshot in Photoshop (image credit: Laptop Analyst)

As another option, paste it in an image-editing app like Photoshop to edit and make necessary adjustments.

Take and save a screenshot simultaneously  with the Windows + PrtScn shortcut

If you want to take and save a full-screen screenshot without making annotations and adjustments, the Windows + Prtscn is your best method. Just press the Windows and Prtscn keys at the same time.

For keyboards with the Fn Key, press Fn + Windows + PrtScn.

Retrieve your saved screenshot by using this file path: Libraries > Pictures > Screenshots

file path: Libraries > Pictures > Screenshots

Screenshot the active window with Alt + PrtScn shortcut

Maybe you just want to capture a specific window instead of the whole screen. In that case, press the Alt and PrtScn keys all at once.

For laptops with the Fn key, use this combination: Fn + Alt + PrtScn.

Take a screenshot on Surface Pro with the Fn and Spacebar Keys

Because Microsoft Surface pro tablets don’t have a PrtScn key, you have to use different shortcuts.

Simply replace the PrtScn Key with the Spacebar. For example, use the Fn + Spacebar combination to take a screenshot of the entire screen.

Method 2: Windows snipping tool

The snipping tool is a tiny program that lets you take and edit screenshots. It’s packaged with Windows 7, 8, and 10, so you don’t have to install anything. Windows 7 and 10 users can access it by typing the phrase “snipping tool” in the start menu search box. If you’re using Windows 8.1, type in the start screen.

Searching the snipping tool in Windows 8
Searching the snipping tool in Windows 8 (Image credit: Laptop Analyst)

The snipping tool gives you four key screenshot options: free form screenshot, full-screen screenshot, windows screenshot, and rectangular screenshot.

Choose the rectangular screenshot option for the highest level of customization.

To take a screenshot, click the New menu option and select the area you want to capture.

Creating a new snip with snipping tool

After capturing your selected screen area, the snipping tool will open a work-space where you can edit and make annotations to your screenshot. You have a handful of tools at your disposal. There’s a pen for making notes, a highlighter for marking text, an eraser for undoing your previous action, and the options of copying, saving, or sharing your screengrab via email.

Editing a screenshot with snipping tool
Editing a screenshot with snipping tool (Image credit: Laptop Analyst)

Want to take another snip? press the New menu option again. This will discard and replace the former snip with your new screenshot.

Method 3: Screen capture with Lightshot

Lightshot gives you more creative freedom than windows’ snipping tool through its rather advanced editing kit.  This app is barely 3MB, meaning it’s easy to download and install. Get it through this link.

After installing Lightshot, it will override the PrtScn hotkey automatically. So use this key to activate the program any time you want to take a screenshot.

Lightshot screenshot activated
Adjusting the capture area after pressing the PrtScn key (Image credit: Laptop Analyst)

Note, however, that Lightshot must be active in the system tray for hotkeys to work.

Lightshot is active on windows system tray
Lightshot is active on the windows system tray (Image Credit: Laptop Analyst)

There’s a whole bunch of hotkeys that you can use with Lightshot.

  • CTRL + C = copying a screenshot to the clipboard
  • CTRL + S = saving screenshot as a file
  • CTRL + E = Editing selected Area online
  • CTRL + D = uploading a screenshot
  • CTRL + A = Expanding capture area to full screen

Apart from useful HOTKEYS, there are several editing tools for adding notes and markings on what you’ve captured. You can add typed text, draw rectangles, sketch lines, or make notes using a pen. Colors are completely customizable through a color picker.

Making annotations on screenshots with lightshot
Making annotations on screenshots with lightshot (Image credit: Laptop Analyst)

Lightshot has a special feature for sharing screenshots on social media and another for searching similar images on the web through Google’s Image Search engine.

Alternatively, you can save files directly to your laptop hard drive or upload them online for further editing.

menu options for saving screenshots in lightshot
Right-clicking on the screenshot brings up some menu options (Image Credit: Laptop Analyst)

Method 4: Icecream Recorder Screenshot tool

Icecream screen recorder is meant for recording whatever is happening on the screen in video format. However, it also has a powerful in-built screen-grab tool that you can use to take and edit screenshots.

Start by downloading the latest free version of Icecream recorder from here. The file size is about 50 MBs.

Next, install and launch the app.

Check the screenshot options and choose your preferred method. I like to go with the custom method for the highest level of freedom. It allows me to create and adjust the resolution of the capture area as I wish.   

Icecream screen recorder screenshot options
Icecream recorder screenshot options (Image credit: Laptop Analyst)

Other options are also handy. The area auto-detection is specifically good for auto-detecting windows and specific areas on your screen.

Auto-detected areas are highlighted with orange borders (Image Credit: Laptop Analyst)

The draw menu provides a fair suit of tools for making annotations on your screenshots. You have a pen for making notes, a marker for highlighting, a text feature that lets you type text, a blur tool for blurring anything you want to hide, an eraser, and a unique feature for adding numbered steps (very useful if you’re making tutorials). You can draw shapes, adjust line size, and select colors.

Editing a screenshot with icecream recorder's free screenshot tool
Making annotations with Icecream screenshot tool (Image Credit: Laptop Analyst)

After editing your screenshot, save it by pressing the screenshot icon or copy it to the clipboard through the copy button. Icecream screen capture tool includes a URL button for sharing and opening your screenshots online.

Use the screenshot button to save your screenshot (Image Credit: Laptop Analyst)

Apart from that, you can personalize the app through the settings menu. Be sure to check the storage and hotkey settings as they can be very convenient.

The screenshot tools used in this tutorial will work on any windows laptop that has a standard keyboard layout. Mainstream laptop models from companies like Dell, Lenovo, Asus, HP, ACER, TOSHIBA, Microsoft, MSI, and Samsung are well compatible.

For queries and recommendations, please use the comments section.

Author: Victor Wachanga

Writer, 3D artist, and thinker. Tech is fascinating. Tech is scary

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