Capture Screenshots in a Flash with Windows' Snipping Tool

Want to save an image of what's on your computer screen? That's called a screenshot, and savvy users know that one tap of the Prt Scr key will copy the entire screen to the clipboard, where you can then paste it into the image editor of choice. (Even savvier users press Alt-Prt Scr to capture just the active window.)

That gets the job done, but I think there's a better way: the Snipping Tool. Built into Windows 7 (and some versions of Vista), it lets you capture a custom chunk of the screen, then mark up, save, and share that image. It's fast, simple, and free. How can you go wrong?

To get started, click the Start button, type snip, and then click Snipping Tool.

The program will start "activated," meaning it's immediately ready for you to start snipping. (This dims your screen somewhat, which is normal, so don't freak out.) If you're not quite ready to "snip" yet, just click Cancel until you are.

Snipping involves clicking and dragging a box (which you'll see outlined in red) around the area of the screen you want to save. The moment you release the mouse button, that captured area will appear in the Snipping Tool window.

From there you can save the snip (in your choice of GIF, JPEG, PNG, or HTML formats), copy it to the clipboard, e-mail it, or add some basic notations using a pen and highlighter.

Great little tool. Give it a try!

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