1. Technology

How To Capture a Screen Shot with the Snipping Tool in Windows

Use the Windows Snipping Tool to Grab Screen Shots


Windows Vista Snipping Tool

The Snipping Tool in Windows offers rudimentary markup tools--multiple pens, a highlighter, and eraser. View Larger

© S. Chastain Snipping Tools Screen Shot

The Snipping Tool is included with Windows Vista and later.

© Microsoft

Before Windows Vista, if you wanted a screen shot you had to use the less than intuitive method of pressing the print screen key and pasting the screen shot into a graphics program to add markup and save it. With Windows Vista and later, Microsoft has included a utility called the Snipping Tool to make capturing screen shots easier. Of course, there are many free screen capture tools for all versions of Windows if you've not upgraded to Windows Vista or Windows 7.

Note: The Sniping tool is not available in Windows Vista Home Basic Edition. It comes with Vista Home Premium, Business, Enterprise, or Ultimate Editions.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: 1 minute

Here's How:

  1. Click on the Start Menu and start typing "snipping" into the search box.
  2. Snipping Tool should show up in the Programs list above the search box, and you can click on it to start it.
  3. The Snipping Tool window will appear on your screen. You may move it to an edge of the screen so it's not in your way, but it will also disappear when you start dragging a selection area.
  4. The Snipping Tool assumes you want to create a new clipping as soon as you open it. Your screen will dim, and you can click and drag your cursor to select an area to copy. As you drag, the selected area will be darker, and surrounded by a red border if you've never changed the Snipping Tool options.
  5. When you release the mouse button, the captured area will open in the Snipping Tool window. If you're not happy with the selection and need to try again, click the "New" button.
  6. When you are happy with your clipping, press the second button to save the screen shot as an image file. See the tips below for file format suggestions.


  1. If your screen shot contains a limited number of colors and you want to retain crisp lines and keep the file size small, save as a GIF file. If your screen shot contains many colors and you want to retain crisp lines and full quality, save as a PNG file. If your screen shot contains many colors and you want to make the file size small, save as a JPEG file.
  2. Before saving your screen shot, you can use the Pen and Highlighter tools in the Snipping Tool toolbar to add markup to your screen shot. The eraser tool will remove marks made with the Pen and Highlighter Tools.
  3. You may email a screen shot without saving it by using the "Send To" button on the Snipping Tool toolbar.
  4. Go to Tools > Options to change the way the Snipping Tool operates. For instance, you can change the color of the selection outline by selecting a new ink color, or turn the outline off entirely by unchecking the box for "Show selection ink after snips are captured."
  5. Enable the option "Display icon in the Quick Launch toolbar" if you want to keep the Snipping Tool handy for quick access in Windows Vista. In Windows 7, you can pin it to your taskbar by right clicking on the icon in the start menu and choosing "Pin to Taskbar."

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.