How to Take a Screenshot on a Computer — Mac, Windows, and Chromebook

Taking a screenshot on your computer is like riding a bike. Once you know how to do it, you'll do it all the time.

Brandon Charles - Author

Apr. 18 2024, Published 1:43 p.m. ET

Macbooks in an Apple Store
Source: Getty Images

Sometimes you need to capture something that isn’t just an image. Whether you’re working on a Mac, a laptop powered by Windows, or a Chromebook, here’s how to take a screenshot.

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The only unfortunate aspect of taking a screenshot on a computer is that each method is different. If you’re used to working on a Mac at home and Windows at work or vice versa, it may be a bit confusing switching back and forth between platforms. But if you’re already doing that, you know that it can be confusing at times.

Macs in an Apple Store
Source: Getty Images
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The Mac screenshot process is very simple.

Just press and hold "Shift," "Command," and "3" and voila, there’s your screenshot. Your screenshot will appear in your desktop folder unless you change the save setting. If you’re using macOS Mojave or later you can choose where screenshots will save.

If you don’t need a whole screenshot but just a portion of your screen, it’s a similar process. Press and hold "Shift," "Command," and "4." Once that’s done, your arrow will become a crosshair. Move the crosshair wherever you need and once you let off of "Shift," "Command," and "4," there’s your partial screenshot. This will also appear in your desktop folder.

If you need more detailed instructions, the Apple Support site does a good job explaining the finer details.

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Laptops running Windows
Source: Getty Images

The Windows screenshot process is also simple. Well, one of the options is simple.

The easiest method for taking a screenshot on a computer running Windows is the Windows Key + Print Screen Key method. The method is actually what it sounds like. Press down on the "Windows" key and the "Print Screen" key and there’s your screenshot. The screenshot will be in your Pictures folder, in the aptly titled subfolder "Screenshots."

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The Snipping Tool method is the Windows version of capturing a portion of your screen. Go to the search button, enter "Snipping," pull up whatever you want to screenshot, and click "New." At this point, your arrow is now a crosshair. Click and drag what you’d like to capture and let go. At this point, you’ll be able to edit your screenshot within a new window and select if you’d like to save it and where you’d like to save it.

If all of this sounds confusing, it kind of is. It may be easier to just take a screenshot of the entire screen and edit that photo in your preferred photo editing app or service.

If you’d like more details, the Microsoft Windows help pages are somewhat helpful and somewhat absurd if you read the comments. For better or worse, the comments on tech support pages tend to answer your questions that aren't covered.

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People working on a Chromebook
Source: Getty Images

The Chromebook screenshot method is the simplest.

Does your Chromebook have a screenshot key? It does? Great. Press it. There’s your screenshot. They’re automatically saved in your "Downloads" folder. You can change their destination if you want.

Does your Chromebook not have a screenshot key? No problem. Press "Shift," "Ctrl," and show windows. That’ll pull up the screenshot options of full, partial, and window.

Once you figure out how to take a screenshot, you’ll also remember how to take a screenshot — it’s like riding a bike.

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