Often the quickest way to keep a record of something on your computer is to take a screenshot. Whether it’s for sharing on social media or for technical support documentation, being able to quickly capture your screen is a vital skill that every computer user should know. But, with all the hardware variations between laptop models and the differences between Windows and MacOS, it can be a confusing process.
also: How to Take a Full Page Screenshot in Google Chrome
Let us show you how to quickly and easily take a screenshot on everything from a Dell, Lenovo, or other Windows-based laptop to an Apple MacBook.
How to take screenshots on any laptop
You’ll need your laptop and, in some cases, basic image editing software. The entire process should take two minutes or less, depending on which method and operating system you’re using.
Screenshot on Windows based laptops
While the process of taking a screenshot is somewhat different on every laptop, the biggest differences will be between Windows-based laptops like those made by Dell, Lenovo, and others, and those made by Apple running MacOS. Let’s talk about Windows based laptops first.
Option 1: The old-fashioned way
The easiest way to capture your entire screen at once is to use Windows’ built-in hotkey: Print screen key. The non-standard nature of laptop keyboards means that this key can be in several places. Often it’s near the top right, as it would be on a full-size keyboard, but it can also be at the bottom, as it is on the Lenovo example below.
In any case, it should be easy to find by searching for the marked key Prt, PrtSc, Prnt Scr, or something similar. Once you find it, just tap on it. Don’t worry if nothing seems to have happened. Windows doesn’t display it well, but you just copied your screenshot.
Once you’ve captured your screenshot, the easiest way to edit and save it is to paste it into an image editing application. If you have Photoshop, this will work, but since most people don’t have access to such professional software, a much simpler, free option also works: Microsoft Paint.
Just open this app that has been included in Windows since time immemorial and click Ctrl+V or click Clipboard button on the upper left side and click pen. In both cases, capture what was on the screen when you hit it print screen will be inserted into the document earlier.
From here you can edit the image, resize it, crop it and save it. Now you have a screenshot of your laptop.
Option 2: Snipping Tool and Win+Shift+S
Windows also includes a handy tool for taking screenshots or capturing individual windows or parts of windows. It’s called Snipping Tool and its full menu can be accessed by opening your start menu and typing “snip”. Alternatively, you can go directly to the capture feature it offers Win+Shift+S.
If you choose to open the full app, you’ll see a small menu a + New A button that will allow you to start capturing the screen in the same way Win+Shift+S would be Both access methods allow you to create a frame or freeform shape that you want to capture, or to capture your current window or the entire screen.
The main difference in using Windows+Shift+S is that Windows does not automatically provide a post-capture extraction tool interface. Instead, it will immediately copy your results to the clipboard and save the resulting image C:\Users\Username\AppData\Local\Temp (by default). If you want, you can click the message that appears on the bottom right of the screen to open the full Snipping Tool interface and save the file elsewhere as well.
Screenshot on Macs
On Macs, the process uses a less intuitive keyboard, but also doesn’t require any software or plug-ins.
To take a screenshot on any Mac, including MacBook laptops, simply press Shift+Cmd+3. Unlike Windows, this will not copy the screen to your clipboard, it will actually save the capture as an image file on your desktop using the “Screen Shot” format. [date] on [time].png.”
MacOS also has its own way to capture part of the screen. Just press Shift+Cmd+4 and your cursor will turn into a crosshair. You can then create a box by clicking and dragging. When you release the click, whatever is in the field will be saved. Finally, Shift+Cmd+4+Spacebar will capture your entire current window.
Is there an easy way to record a video of my laptop screen?
It definitely is. For Mac users, we’ve already covered how to capture your system recordings using MacOS’s built-in QuickTime player. While Windows will soon have a similar, built-in feature to complement the aforementioned Snipping Tool, you can use the Xbox Game Bar included with Windows 10 and 11 to record not only your games, but any screen . activity.
What is a good, free image editing software to use on my screenshots?
At ZDNET, we like Pixlr. It’s a free web app that handles most of the basic tasks you’ll want to use on your screenshots, including cropping, resizing, and adding text. It also includes some more advanced effects such as the liquid tool. If you need something more advanced, but only occasionally, we’ve got a guide on using Adobe’s free trial to get short-term access to Photoshop.
Why? [insert on-screen item here] Do you look weird in my screenshot?
There are a number of reasons why things can look weird in your screenshots. Animated elements, such as active video playback, can often look distorted or blurry because the moment you captured was in fast motion, or you moved between frames. Likewise, some operating system assets and parts of applications contain transparencies or overlays that don’t play well with screen capture tools. For best results, always make sure everything on the screen is as still as possible when taking a screenshot.