How to Capture the Desktop Screen


At some point, an occasion may come up that requires capturing a screen shot of what is displayed on your computer's desktop screen and saving it as an image file. You may want to use the image to demonstrate something to another person or simply have it for your own future reference. Fortunately, whether you are using a Mac or a PC, the process of capturing your computer's desktop image and saving it to your hard drive takes a minimal amount of effort.

On a PC

  • Close any windows or programs that you do not want to appear in your screen shot. When the screen looks the way you want it to, press the Print Screen (Prt Sc) button on your keyboard, which will generally be located in the top row above the Backspace key.

  • Open a basic image editing program such as Microsoft Paint. Paste the screen shot into the program by pressing Ctrl-V, or by clicking "Edit" in the toolbar and then "Paste."

  • Click "File" and then "Save As." Save the file in a true image format such as PNG or TIFF, which will not cause any loss of color or clarity in the image.

On a Mac

  • Hold down the Control key while pressing Command-Shift-3 when the desktop screen looks the way you want it to. This will copy the desktop image to your computer's clipboard.

  • Open an image editing program. Paste the desktop image into the program by pressing Command-V.

  • Save the image in TIFF or PNG format so that it will look exactly as it originally did on your screen without losing any color information.

Tips & Warnings

  • An even simpler screen shot method to use on a Mac is to press Command-Shift-3 without the Control key, which creates a PICT file of the screen image in your boot drive's top directory.

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  • Photo Credit Ciaran Griffin/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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