Make screendump of the desktop using Print Screen

Windows can take a screenshot, when using one of the following keyboard shortcuts:
  • Print Screen (Prt Scr) - Will take a screenshot of the entire desktop and save to clipboard
  • Alt + Print Screen (PrtScr) - Will a screenshot of the active window and save to clipboard
  • Win + Print Screen (PrtScr) - Will take a screenshot of the entire desktop and save as PNG (Win8+)
To see/edit the content of the clipboard open MsPaint and do a Paste, and now you are able to edit the screendump and later save it into a file.

Note if wanting to make screenshots for documentation or bug reports, then one should consider to use advanced tools that allows one to annodate and crop the screenshots:
  • GreenShot
  • Microsoft Snipping Tool (Included with Windows Vista+)
Note one can also activate Print Screen screendump for DirectX games by setting this registry key:

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \SOFTWARE \Microsoft \DirectDraw]
EnablePrintScreen = 1


Note the native Windows message box has the ability to copy the message text into the clipboard, by pressing the CTRL+C. This is useful in case one need to Google the error message, or sent it to the application support team, as it will avoid typos.

Note in Win9x/WinNT then MsPaint can only save image as uncompressed BMP format. When saving a screen dump from 16/32 bit desktop then the file size will be huge. Consider to save the image in 16 or 256 colors by using "Save as..". Alternative it is possible to install a MS PAINT Codecs addon which will allow it to save in GIF and JPEG which can compress the image and make the file size smaller.

More Info MS KB173884

Updated: 9 December 2012

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