Tips and tricks for the perfect Windows XP Print Screen

Learn everything you need to know to make a perfect Windows XP Print Screen.

If you just need a quick error message screenshot to send to a technical support person, you already have everything you need on your Windows XP computer. Just press the "Print Screen" button, which is usually located to the right of the F12 button.

Windows XP Print Screen

Nothing happens at all ?

Ok, it may seem as if nothing happens when you hit the Print Screen button, but Windows already made a picture of your screen and copied that to the clipboard.

Windows does that in the background, so you won't notice anything. The image is there though, available for you when you need it.

Just fire up Word, WordPad, Paint or whatever application that can handle images and then select "Edit" from the application menu and choose "Paste" (you can also press the CTRL-v key combination). The picture of your screen magically appears in the application.

You can even use this technique to capture a particular strange behavior of your computer in a picture and mail it to someone who can help you. Or maybe you want a screenshot as proof of an online transaction or money transfer.

Not the entire screen ?

No problemo. The Windows XP Print Screen functionality can handle that. Press and hold the ALT-key and then press the Print Screen key. Try and paste that image in your word processor and you'll see that only the active window was captured in the screenshot.

Windows XP Print Screen in a graphics file format

When you paste your screenshots in your word processor, you generally won't be able to save your images in a graphics file format like .jpg or .gif. They are saved in the word processor's file format.

Why is that important ?

If you want to use your screenshots in other documents later on, you need to store them on your hard drive in a graphics file format. You need an image editing program like PhotoShop or Paint.Net to do that. PhotoShop has endless possibilities for graphics, but Paint.Net has a price advantage over PhotoShop ...

It's free.

And still it is a powerful yet simple tool for photo and image editing. Just enter "download paintdotnet" in Google and get yourself a free copy. Paint.Net offers a lot of different graphic file types to save your clipboard-pasted images.

Making more advanced screenshots

Maybe you've outgrown the phase of single-screen snapshots. If you want to make a snapshot of a scrolling window, a menu, or just a part of the screen, you need something more powerful than the Windows XP Print Screen functionality.

SnagIt is an excellent tool for that.

It's not free, but you can download a 30 day free trial from techsmith's website (

Using SnagIt you can capture literally anything on your screen, including

If you need screenshots for presentations or software manuals, SnagIt beats the Windows XP Print Screen functionality hands down. It will give your presentations a professional, dynamic look in a fraction of the time.

You can even add short video clips of onscreen activity or text callouts to illustrate the steps you want the reader to follow.

We especially like the possibilities for batch processing. You can convert any number of images to a single file format and add effects such as borders, watermarks and drop shadows all at one time.

Below is an example screen shot of the SnagIt website in a scroll window with an added drop shadow.

Windows XP Print Screen with SnagIt

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