Windows Snipping Tool


Snipping Tool for Windows Screenshots

The Snipping Tool is free and allows you to capture full screens or just a portion of the screen in any Windows program…

Microsoft has several free, desktop mini-programs. Many have been available for the last several versions of Windows, such as Paint, Notepad and WordPad but a few are later additions, such as the Snipping Tool and Sticky Notes (in Windows 7 and above), and Windows Fax and Scan and Steps Recorder available in Windows 10. None are full-blown programs but they will help in a pinch if you don’t have MS Office or a photo program.

These all reside in the Accessories folder but a much faster way to find them is to click the Start button (or press the Windows key on the keyboard) and type whatever you are looking for. If it is a tool (like this one) that you know you’ll want to use all the time, just right click on its icon on the Taskbar (after opening), and choose Pin to Taskbar. (You could also choose to Pin to Start Menu by right clicking over the name when it appears at the top of the Search menu).

Access all the tools in Windows 7 by clicking Start and then All Programs. Scroll down to the folders and click Accessories. Click Snipping Tool.

In Windows 10, click Start and click on any of the letters displayed above the programs, click on the “W”, and then click Windows Accessories but on to what you came for…

How the Snipping Tool Works

The options and process in both Windows 7 and 10 are the same except that a Delay feature has been added to the tool in Windows 10 to allow time to get the right shot.

Windows 7

Windows 10

Another feature in Windows 10 is that you can use the keyboard shortcut WIN PRNTSCR to capture a snip and it will be saved automatically to your Pictures folder in a Screenshots subfolder. However, it will be a shot of the entire screen. This shortcut will work in Windows 7 to capture the screen but it will automatically be saved to the Windows Clipboard so needs to be pasted into another program to save.

Windows 7 and Above

The Snipping Tool dialog box normally activates when you click its Taskbar icon. If the screen doesn’t fade, click the New button to start the process.

Now, just click, hold and draw around the part of the screen or object that you want to capture. Can be text or a picture or whatever. This allows you to crop as you select and get just what you want. When you release the mouse, you have an image of what you selected. You have options on what you want to do with the picture. (The Delay button will not be on the Windows 7 version but everything else will be the same):

The Save icon allows you to save the snip as an image anywhere you choose. The Copy icon copies automatically to the Windows Clipboard so that you can paste into any program screen. The Mail icon assumes you have Microsoft Outlook (desktop) so you can email directly from here. The Pen allows you to make annotations in various colors on your snip and the highlighter highlights. The eraser lets you erase those imperfect notes or lines!

Change Snipping Defaults

The drop down arrow on the New button gives you options for the four different types of screenshots you can apply:

The default is a rectangular snip but you can draw free form in any shape or choose to capture a whole window or the entire screen. If you change the Snip type, it will become the default.

You can also use the keyboard shortcut CTRL PRTSC (Print Screen key) to perform the snip instead of clicking New.

The Menu Bar that appears after a snip offers commands as well, and clicking Tools > Options…gives you access to some default settings, such as changing the color of the pen:

Capture Windows Start Screen

One of the drawbacks on the surface is not being able to capture the Start Menu, drop down menus or the shortcut options displayed with the right mouse button. Not to worry…you can do it!

The Snipping Tool will not work normally on the start screen. When you click the Start button and then activate the Snipping Tool, the Start Menu disappears.

You can capture the entire start screen using the WIN PRTSCR buttons but this also captures the screen behind it such as the Desktop or the active program window. You could do this and this open the image in a photo editor and crop it, save it, etc., but that is a long way around.

Capture Parts of Start Screen with Snipping Tool in Windows 7

  • Open Snipping Tool
  • Press ESC key
  • Press the WIN key to switch to the Start Screen
  • Move the mouse cursor around the desired area to capture just that portion

Capture Context Menu in Windows 7

The steps for getting a screenshot of a drop down menu or a shortcut (right click) menu are the same as above for the Start Screen except:

Replace Step 3 with a right click over the desired object (Desktop, file or folder or menu)

Next right-click on the desktop, file or folder and then press CTRL+PRNTSCR. This will let you capture the right-click context menu.

Capture Start Screen or Context Menu in Windows 10

The Delay feature in the Windows 10 tool allows you to set the number of seconds before taking the screenshot.

  • Start the Snipping Tool
  • Set desired number of seconds for Delay
  • Click New
  • Immediately press WIN key for the Start Menu or right click over area to display shortcut menu (or click a drop down arrow). You need to have this displayed before the time runs out
  • When screen grays out, draw around desired area

If you have a problem with the above steps working, here is the longer way to do the same:

  • Start the Snipping Tool
  • Set desired number of seconds for Delay
  • Click New
  • Press ESC
  • Right click over desired area to display menu (twice if needed). Snipping Tool will disappear
  • Press CTRL PRNTSCR to activate the Snipping Tool
  • Draw around menu or desired area

Remember, to capture the entire window, just press WIN+PRNTSCR at any time
without using the Snipping Tool and it will be automatically saved to the Screenshots folder under Pictures.

NOTE: In all versions of Windows, you can still use the PRNTSCR key to get a screenshot of the entire screen, and ALT PRNTSCR to capture just a front screen, like a dialog box or message window, and then paste into another program for saving or printing. (These do not work for the Start Screen or context menus).

There is a “garage” project app from Microsoft called Snip, which is similar to the Snipping Tool but more robust in that it allows recording during capture and also maintains all of your “snips” in a library. It is a separate download and not automatically included in Windows. MS Office also has a screenshot feature that works only in the Office Suite. I will cover these both in a later post.

Here is the link to the newer Snip app:

Hope this has solved a problem for you. Let me know if you use the Snipping Tool or if it is new to you and how it has helped. Happy Computing!


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