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What is a Screen Shot?

Everything You Need to Know About Screen Shots


Screen Shot Tutorials

Everything You Need to Know About Screen Shots

© Sue Chastain

Question: What is a Screen Shot?

What is a screen shot? What software do I need to take a picture of my computer screen?


Answer: "Screen shot" is the phrase used to describe the action of capturing your computer desktop or anything shown on your computer screen to a static image file. In other words, it is a way of taking a snapshot, or picture, of your computer screen. Some people also call it a screen grab.

Screen shots can be very helpful when you need to demonstrate something that would be difficult to explain in words. Here are just a few examples of situations where a screen shot can be useful and why:

  • In software reviews, to show what the software looks like.
  • In software tutorials, to demonstrate how to perform a function.
  • In technical support troubleshooting, to show error message or software issues.
Screen shots are also useful to save snippets of anything you have on your screen, particularly when it can not be easily printed. I use screen shots all the time for things I want to save to refer to later, but don't necessarily need a printed copy of.

You do not need special software to take a picture of your screen because screen shot functionality is built into all current operating systems.

In addition, many graphics programs also have screen capture capabilities built in. However, if you take screen shots often, using special screen capture software can come in handy. Dedicated screen capture software offers many benefits, such as:

  • the ability to automatically name and save your screen shots to a specific folder,
  • auto-scroll functions to capture long documents like Web pages that don't fit on the screen,
  • timed captures to allow you prepare the workspace before capturing,
  • markup tools for adding callouts, arrows, shapes, and text annotations to your screen shots,
  • options to include or exclude the mouse cursor.
There is even screen recording software that will capture all the activity on your computer monitor and turn it into a video file.

You can find screen capture software in the following categories:


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