By Delia / Last update March 28, 2022

Screenshots allow you to capture exactly what you see on your screen, whether it's a document, a photo, a computer setting, or a video you're watching. Microsoft's desktop operating system has long offered a number of options for capturing images from your PC screen, and Windows 11 simplifies and optimizes these options even further. Whether you want to capture the full-screen or just a portion of the screen, you can do it with the included tools.

windows 11

Use PrtSc key to capture the whole screen

In Windows 11, as in previous versions of Windows, you can copy the entire screen image to the clipboard by pressing the Print Screen (PrtScn) key. Sometimes the Print Screen key is marked as "PrtScn" or "PrtScrn" on the keyboard.

When you press PrtSc, you will not receive any indication that you have successfully captured the screenshot, but you can easily paste the screenshot into an application such as Paint, Paint 3D, Adobe Photoshop or Microsoft Word, and then edit or save it.


Use Alt + PrtSc to capture the currently active window

If you want to capture only the currently active application window, use the Alt + PrtSc key combination. As with the full-screen capture operation, use this key combination to save the current window to the clipboard, which you can then paste into the image application.

Save screenshot as a file using Windows + PrtSc

If you want to take screenshots and automatically save them to an image file on your computer, you can press the Windows key and the PrtSc key at the same time. This method causes the screen to flicker and places the image file in the Pictures > Screenshots folder by default. You can also paste the snapshot to any location immediately after using this method.

screenshots folder

Using the Snipping Tool to capture part of the screen

If you want to capture a specific part of the screen of your choice, you can use the special Windows 11 screenshot tool. Press Windows + Shift + S and your screen will blink and a small toolbar will appear at the top of the screen, allowing you to do the following:

snipping tool windows 11

  • Rectangular Snip: Draw a box around what you want to capture
  • Freeform Snip: Draw any shape around what you want to capture.
  • Window Snip: Choose a window to capture.
  • Fullscreen Snip: Capture your entire screen (same thing as PrtScr).

After taking a screenshot, it will be saved to your clipboard, just like using the PrtScr key option. You can then paste it elsewhere to view it. If you click on the screenshot tool preview displayed at the bottom of the screen, you will find the option to edit the screenshot (crop, rotate, etc.) and save it to your desktop.