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How to Use the Print Screen Key

Rahul Thadani Aug 26, 2020
'PrtScn' is a short form of 'Print Screen', and it's present as a key on the computer keyboard. It is used to take a screenshot that is saved in an image form. The following story provides valuable information regarding the usage of this key.
The print screen key is a seemingly dormant one, and it is rarely used. Different computer manufacturers have different methods of naming this key, but its location is pretty much constant in every keyboard.
Its position is right after the function keys, and there are many people who think that pressing it directly commands the computer to take a printout of the current screen. This is not true, as its function is to take a screen snapshot, and to store it on your clipboard for further use.
The clipboard is an invisible medium that comes into play, whenever we are transferring files or folders. Whenever we cut or copy something, the item is temporarily stored on the clipboard, before we actually paste it elsewhere.


  • Open the screen that you wish to copy.
  • Now, press the print screen key ('PrtScn'), and the mirror image of that screen will be stored on your desktop.
  • Open an image editing application like Microsoft Paint.
  • Paste the screenshot in this application either by pressing Control + V, or by going to the Edit menu and selecting Paste.
  • You can either enlarge this image, or you can even crop it, according to your requirement.
  • Save the file at a suitable location, and it is now ready for use. You can either view it and use it for some other purpose, or you can even send it to another person.
You can even use this method on laptops for a similar purpose. Various laptop brands have differing nomenclatures and positions for this key.
The image will be saved in the Bitmap (.bmp) format. You can also change the format to GIF. Do not use the JPEG format, as it makes the text appear as unclear and blurry. You can press ALT + PrtScn to copy a screenshot of a selected window on your monitor, instead of the entire screen itself. This means that you don't have to crop the picture in your image editing program.

Using Print Screen in Mac OS

An Apple Mac is very different from a machine using Windows XP or Windows Vista Operating System, and it doesn't consist of a print screen button. But, the method of taking a screenshot is slightly different from that of a Windows-based computer.
Method # 1
  • Open the screen that you wish to capture.
  • Press the 'Apple' key + Shift + 3.
  • Click on the window.
  • The image of your screenshot will be automatically saved on your desktop.
Method # 2
  • This is for capturing just a portion of your screen.
  • Open the screen and press the Apple key + Shift + 4.
  • The mouse cursor will change to a "+" sign. You can use it to drag and highlight the area that you want to capture.
  • After this, the screenshot image will be saved on your desktop.
Method # 3
  • This method is used to capture a screenshot of a particular application window.
  • Open the screen and press the Apple key + Shift + 4.
  • The mouse cursor will change to "+". Press Space bar once, and the cursor will further change to the shape of a camera.
  • Use it to click on the application window, which you wish to capture.
  • The corresponding image will be saved on your desktop.
Once you have figured it out, and mastered how to use the above mentioned methods in Windows and Mac, you can utilize this key for a number of purposes. It is indeed a very handy tool, and one that has been around ever since computers were invented.