Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Screen Shot is Worth More Than a Thousand Words

Circled All Programs in Paint on a Screen Shot
So you see something that you'd wish your tech nerd friend could see.  Perhaps your friend could explain it, fix it, or show how to work around it.  But they're not available.  What to do?  Take a Screen Shot!

Some Background Info
Ever wonder what the PrtScn (or it might say Print Screen or PrScr) key is for, now? A long time ago, it did what you might think. Push it and your printer would print an image of whatever was on your screen. It was kinda cool.  And helpful.

But that's not what it does in Windows today.

When you press the PrtScn key, you won't see anything happen.  But an image of your entire screen is placed on the Windows Clipboard. Now you can do something with it.
Like email it to a friend.

Here's How
We need to make a file out of it. Let's only use what's available in every copy of Windows.  
  1. press PrtScn - I know, nothing "happens"
  2. open Paint - click on Start, All Programs, Accessories, and then Paint
  3. paste - you should now see an image of your screen
  4. save this image to a file - but change Save as type to either JPEG or PNG  for a much smaller file
  5. email your screen shot as an attachment - remember where the file was saved (usually Desktop, My Pictures or My Documents)
Note:  "click" means left-click. "Right-click" means, well, you got it.  And "double-click" means left-click-twice.... 

Can you see the value of this?  A picture is often so much clearer than any written explanation.  The screen shot also saves the time in typing.  

Extra Tips
  • PrtScn takes a picture of the entire screen, as you see it
  • Alt+PrtScn captures only the active window
  • Highlight - when in Paint, use brushes to underline, or circles/squares to outline or otherwise draw attention to the part of the screen that's important
  • Close Paint as soon as you're done saving the file - you might mistake the Paint image for the programs and desktop behind the Paint window
  • PrtScn does not work on blue screens, any BIOS or other startup screen - rule of thumb:  If you cannot open Paint, you cannot take a screen shot
a Blue Screen of Death (BSOD)

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