How To Use Screen Capture Function in Mac or PC

Written by on June 13, 2012 in Technology - No comments | Print this page


Screen Capturing is so simple even he can follow through

Often times while working or playing on your computer, you may have wished to be able to save the screen or even to send a copy to a friend. You may have thought that it would require expensive software or that it would be complicated to set-up, but that is not the case at all.

In fact, it is incredibly simple on both Mac and PC computers.

There are many software programs available to perform screen captures with fancy extras and functions, however if you just need a simple click and go method, then follow these simple steps and you will be capturing like a pro in just minutes.


For Screen Captures in Microsoft Windows 98 or Prior

1. Press the ‘Print Screen’ Key found in the center panel of your keyboard or (on some laptops) on what would be F13

* To capture an the active window you can simply hold down the ALT key and ‘Print Screen’

2. Choose an editing program for images such as ‘Microsoft Paint‘ or ‘Inkscape‘ and open it

3. Choose the ‘Edit’ menu from the top bar

4. If it asks to ‘enlarge’ the image – Yes

5. If your image has unnecessary background or excess border – you can use the ‘crop’ tool to remove it

6. Choose ‘File’ from top bar and just ‘Save as’ then enter a file name (and to a place) that you will remember

7. ‘Save’ usually as a ‘.gif for images with text and clarity (.jpeg images are generally not clear or readable)

That is it – you are done with a basic screen capture.

** Should you choose to do further editing or markup to the image then save it first then save it again under a second name before making changes to it. By doing this you will save yourself from having to recapture the image if you make errors you cannot fix. This is true for any capture on any system, always save a secondary copy to avoid possible disasters.


For Screen Capture using Windows Vista and above

1. Begin by opening your ‘Start’ menu (click the Windows symbol found on the bottom left of your screen

2. In the text box at the bottom of the menu that pops up – type in ‘Snipping’ and you will see it appear above

3. Click it and you will see a new tool window appear

4. Now your screen will dim and you will be able to select something by clicking and dragging the cursor to select area

5. When you have the area that you wish to capture let go of the mouse and the capture will be in the tool window

6. If you are satisfied continue, if you are not happy then click ‘New’ and repeat the process until you are

7. To markup the image you can use the ‘Highlighter’ or ‘Pen’

8. When you have what you need captured ‘Save’


For Screen Capture on a Mac OS X System

  • To capture the entire desktop and save to .png automatically

– press Command + Shift + 3 together

  • To copy the whole desktop and put on your clipboard

– press Command + Control + Shift + 3 – then you can use your own image software or place it where you need it

  • For just part of a screen

– press Command + Shift + 4 – then click and drag to select your area for copy, the image will be saved automatically as a .png file that will be found on your desktop

*** In Mac 10.3 or earlier versions the file saved will actually be in PDF format instead of .png

  • For an application window

– use Command + Shift + 4 and press the ‘spacebar’ – The cursor will now be a camera and can be moved around as needed – Move your cursor over the window – click mouse – and your screenshot will be on your desktop as a .png file

*** Again, this will be a PDF file automatically within systems prior to 10.3

  • Another method of screen capture within the Mac operating system would be Apple’s built in utility ‘Grab’ which can be found in the ‘Utility’ folder under the ‘Applications’ folder. This will automatically save to a .tiff file and would allow you to capture the cursor within the image. You can also choose the file type here.

To include the cursor image, go to the ‘Grab Preferences to select an icon to use in your shots

Using ‘Grab’ choose ‘Run Grab’

Decide which capture mode to use and…. 

— In ‘Selection’ mode – Using the tool provided you will outline the part of the screen you wish to capture by dragging around it, once you are done just let go of the mouse – Your screenshot will open in a new window.

Note – The cursor will not be included in this image.

— In ‘Timed’ Mode – When using this mode you will actually get an instruction window – set up the window to be captured so that it is what you want – Press the ‘Start Timer’ and in exactly 10 seconds your screen will be captured.

Note – With ‘Timed’ mode your cursor will be part of the final image

— Using ‘Screen’ mode – The screen will ask you to click the screen when you are ready to capture the image.

Note – Your cursor will be part of the image and will appear wherever you click the screen for capture

— Within the ‘Window’ mode – The pop-up will ask you to select the window that you wish to capture – then click on ‘Choose Window’ – the pop-up will dissapear and your window will be captured as requested.

Note – This option will show the cursor in the image exactly where you clicked to capture

That’s it! Honestly, that is all there is to it and it will not cost you a single dime to complete.

Of course, there is plenty of software to do this with and that will obviously have more options, features, and abilities, but if you are anything like me then you like things to be simple. These options are simple and you should not let them intimidate you.

Instead learn about your keyboard and its functions beyond just typing.

Learn what your computer is actually capable of and try to do something different each day.

If you want to master any software or technique then your first step should always be to learn about the machine in front of you and its software, then learn just one thing at a time, master it, then move on to the next.

What would you like to see covered in the How To section of this online magazine?

Send me your requests and I will follow up with each submission.

Do you have any tricks for screen captures?
Image courtesy of


This is a guest post – Liz Calamusa is a published author as well as an expert in Online Business practices. Liz’s work can be found on many well-respected websites as well as an ongoing series of business manuals that is causing quite a stir due to the very different approach she has taken.


About the Author

Guest Blogger

This article was written by a guest contributor. You will find their details at the bottom of the post. To submit your own Guest Post to our website, please visit our SUBMIT page for details about adding your article.