How to take a Screenshot

A Thousand Words

“A picture paints a thousand words”.


That’s maybe more true in the 21st century than ever before. We love sending gifs, emojis and the odd screenshot to people, because they get the message across so quickly.

But, how do you take a screenshot? That really depends on what device you are using, e.g. are you on a computer, tablet or phone? I’ll go through the procedures for as many devices as possible. If I’ve left any out, let me know in the comments section below and I’ll update the article.

What is a screenshot?

A “screenshot” is the name used to describe taking a picture of your computer, tablet or phone. It is also called a screen grab by some people. For the purposes of this article I’m going to refer to your computer, tablet or phone as your “device”.

A screenshot of the main Wikiepedia page from January 2017.
By Eviarts – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=54836122

Screenshots are useful for showing people how to do something on a device when otherwise it would take a lot of words. (a bit like this). They are also used in

  • social media – when you want to share screen images with people. For example when you need to share that inspirational quote but there’s too many letters for a 280 character tweet.
  • messaging friends — you do know that every time you message your wife, she sends a screenshot to all her girl friends to show off how great you are, right?
  • websites — when you want to show a particular screen from an app.
  • creating a gif from a video — this is actually something that a lot of people don’t realise. On an iPhone you can take a video screenshot. So if you want to grab a 3 second clip from a youtube video to use as your new gif, we’ll show you how.

What apps do I need?

Although each device has its own way of taking screenshots, the common theme is that it’s usually built into the device already. That means that you normally just need to hit a combination of buttons or keys to get a screenshot. If you want to do more advanced screenshots, then you might need to download an app, but you don’t need to pay.

Choose your Device


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Android

Taking a screenshot was added to Android version 4 (aka Ice Cream Sandwich) in 2011. But of course, as with everything in Android, not all phone companies use the standard way of taking a screenshot. So we’ve listed as many types of Android phones as we can, with the instructions for each one. If we’ve left out your model of phone, let us know using a comment below.

Samsung phones

A Samsung Galaxy S8 phone. The power and the volume down buttons are circled. Pressing both of them at the same time will take a screenshot.

  • Galaxy S8 and later: Hold down the power and volume-down buttons for a couple of seconds.
  • Galaxy S7 and earlier: Hold down the home and power buttons for a couple of seconds.
  • To find your screenshot go to Gallery ▸ Albums ▸ Screenshots.

Acer phones

  • Hold down the power and volume-down buttons for a couple of seconds.
  • OR

  • Pull down the notification panel to reach quick settings and tap the Screenshot icon.

Asus phones

  • Hold down the power and volume-down buttons for a couple of seconds.
  • OR

  • Pull down the notification panel to reach quick settings and tap the Screenshot icon.

Google phones

  • Nexus: Hold down the power and volume-down buttons for a couple of seconds.
  • Pixels: Hold down the power and volume-down buttons for a couple of seconds.

HTC phones

  • HTC U12+: Press and hold the Power button until your phone vibrates, and then tap the Navigation Bar while still pressing the Power button
  • HTC U series (up to U12+): Hold down the power and volume-down buttons for a couple of seconds.
  • HTC 10: Hold down the home and power buttons OR hold down the power and volume-down buttons for a couple of seconds.
  • All other HTC phones: Hold down power and volume-down buttons for a couple of seconds.

Huawei and Honor phones

A huawei phone, with the power and the volume-down buttons highlighted. Pressing both of these will take a screenshot.

  • Hold down the power and volume-down buttons for a couple of seconds.
  • OR

  • Pull down the notification panel, switch to Shortcuts, and tap the Screenshot icon.
  • To find your screenshot go to Gallery ▸ Albums ▸ Screenshots.

Lenovo

  • Hold down the power and volume-down buttons for a couple of seconds.
  • OR

  • Pull down the notification panel and tap the Screen Shot icon.

LG phones

  • LG G7: Press and hold the power and volume-down buttons for a couple of seconds.
  • All other LG phones: Hold down the power (located on the back of the phone) and volume-down buttons for a couple of seconds.
  • OR

  • Pull down the notification panel and tap the Capture+ icon.

Motorola phones

  • Hold down the power and volume-down buttons for a couple of seconds.

OnePlus phones

  • All OnePlus phones: Press and hold the power and volume-down buttons for a couple of seconds.
  • OnePlus 5, 5T, and 6: Swipe down with three fingers on the home screen.

Sony phones

A Sony mobile phone with the power and the volume-down buttons highlighted. Pressing both of those buttons at the same time will grab a screenshot.

  • Hold down the power and volume-down buttons for a couple of seconds.
  • OR

  • Hold down the power key until a screen appears and tap Take screenshot.
  • To find your screenshot go to Gallery ▸ Albums ▸ Screenshots.

ZTE phones

  • Hold down the power and volume-down buttons for a couple of seconds.

Google Assistant

On supported phones, you can also ask “Google Assistant” to take a screenshot for you. When you’re on the screen you want to snap, just say, “OK Google, take a screenshot,” and it will oblige, saving a picture of the screen under the Assistant screen. So if you want to capture the Google Assistant screen itself, you’ll have to use the hardware buttons.


iPhone and iPads

To take a screenshot on an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch that has a Home button you press, and hold, the Sleep / Wake Button. (This is found on the top or the right-hand side of the device depending on which model it is) and then press the Home Button. You will hear the sound of a camera shutter (if you have the sound on) and the screen will flash.

On an iPhone X, XS, XS Max and XR there is no Home Button. So, you press and hold the Sleep / Wake Button on the right-hand side of the screen. Then press the Volume Up button, which is on the left side of the screen. If you hold the Sleep / Wake Button for too long you will be asked if you want to turn off your iPhone.

an Iphone Ten. It has arrows pointing to the Volume Up and the Sleep / Wake buttons. Pressing both of these at the same time will take a screenshot.

Before iOS 11 the screenshot was automatically saved into your photos as the most recent one. You could access by going to the Photos App.

iOS 11 introduced some new screenshot tools. When you press the 2 buttons you’ll see a small version of the screenshot appear in the bottom left corner of the screen. From here you can swipe left to save it, or click on it to open up an editor. From there the screenshot can be cropped to another size, or drawn on. Once you have it the way you want you can either share it immediately or else save it. You will find the screenshot in the Photos app as the most recent photo.


Windows Computers

There are a few different ways of taking a screenshot on a Windows computer or laptop. To be honest, it’s more complicated to do a screenshot on Windows than most other devices. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not hard to do one, but it’s not nearly as easy as your phone or even a Mac.

The first thing you need to do is find the “print screen” button on your keyboard. It’s normally near the top right of the keyboard, at the right of the Function key, F12. It might be called Print Scrn, Prnt Scrn, Prt Scrn, Prt Scr, Prt Sc or Pr Sc on your keyboard, and those may or may not have a space in the middle of them.

A computer keyboard with the Print screen button circled.

The Print Screen (let’s call it PrtScn) button does different things, depending on which keys are pressed with it. In versions of Windows before Windows 8, you could only do the first 2 options. But since Windows 8 the 3rd option, (Win+PrtScn:) has been available. That’s probably the easiest way to grab a screenshot, especially if you want to keep the file.

PrtScn: If you press the button once, it puts a copy of the entire screen into the clipboard. If you have more than one screen connected to the computer it will save a screenshot of all the screens to a one big image.

Alt+PrtScn: If you just want to grab a single window then make sure it’s in focus. Clicking the mouse somewhere in the window should do that. Then hit the Alt button (normally on the bottom left of the space bar) and the PrtScn at the same time. You can hold down the Alt key, and then press the PrtScn key. That will save a screenshot to the clipboard.

Win+PrtScn: Windows 8 introduced this new way of grabbing screenshots. The “Windows” key is the key at the bottom left of your keyboard. The one with the flag, which brings up the start menu. Press that, and without letting go, press the PrtScn button. That will grab a screenshot of the whole screen and save it to your pictures folder, within a subfolder called ScreenShots.

Note: The first 2 options don’t give you any indication that they have done something! They just copy the screenshot, either the whole screen or the current window, to the clipboard. You then have to “paste” that picture into another app. I’ll explain how to do that in the next section.

Paste your screenshot

If you want to use your new screenshot immediately, and you won’t need it again, then open up whatever app it is that you’re using. Some examples might be your email app, or Skype or a web design app if you’re creating a website.

Click the mouse to the place where you want to put the screenshot and press the Control key (CTRL) and while holding it down, press the V key. (This is the standard combination to paste anything from the clipboard into an app.

If you want to save the screenshot, or if you want to edit it, then the best thing to do is to use Microsoft Paint. It’s not the best art app in the world, but it is available on almost every Windows computer.

Microsoft Paint

The quickest way to open Paint on every version of Windows is by using the Run options in the start menu. Press the Windows key, and while you’re holding it down, press the R key. A new window will open. Type mspaint into the box and press Enter.

When Microsoft Paint is open, press CTRL and V, like we did earlier, to paste the screenshot as a new image.

Now we need to save the screenshot. You can do that by pressing CTRL and the S key. You can also click the File option in the menu at the top of the screen, and then move the mouse down to save but the keyboard shortcut is a lot faster.

Now that you have it saved, you can get on with editing it. MS Paint doesn’t do a very good job of getting the size of the image the same as the size of your screenshot, so you might need to crop off the white frame around the part you need.


Apple Mac

Taking a screenshot on an Apple Mac is much easier than on a Windows computer. There is no need to copy it to a clipboard and then paste it into an app.

Take a screenshot of the whole screen

Look at the bottom left of your keyboard. There’s a button marked “command” – sometimes “cmd”. It has a ‘⌘’ symbol on the key too. (If you have a Windows keyboard connected to your Mac then you should use the Windows Flag key instead of command)

Press, and hold down the ‘Shift’ key, and then the Command key, and finally the number 3. That will save a screenshot to your desktop.

Take a screenshot of part of the screen

If you don’t want to grab the entire screen then you can press Shift-Command and the number 4. Your mouse point will change to a cross-hair.
Move that cross-hair to the top left of the area that you want to grab. Click the mouse and without lifting your finger, drag the mouse to the bottom right. As soon as you lift your finger from the mouse, your screenshot is saved to your desktop.

If you want to cancel, for example to pick a different area of the screen, press the Escape key (Esc) in the top left of your keyboard.

Screenshot the current window

If you want to grab the contents of your current window then you can follow the instructions above and just drag the mouse to the size of the window. But there is a little shortcut.

Press Shift-Command-4 as above. Then, instead of clicking the mouse button, press the space bar. The mouse pointer will change into a camera. As you move the mouse around the window under the mouse pointer will be highlighted. Just click on the one you want, and the screenshot will be saved to your desktop.


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Amazon Kindle

Kindle Fire Tablet

If you’re using a Kindle Fire that was bought after 2012 then the method for taking a screenshot is very similar to other Android devices. Press and hold the power button and the volume down at the same time. You should see an animation and hear a sound. That’s all you have to do. If you go to the Photos app, you’ll find all your screenshots in the Screenshots album.

If you’re using a Kindle Fire that was bought in 2011 then the process for grabbing a screenshot is long. I can’t imagine that any screenshot is worth this much work, but I’ll put the information here in case anyone has a spare hour to kill.

  1. Install the Android SDK on your computer.
  2. Make sure you have the Kindle Fire USB driver installed (Instructions on Amazon website).
  3. Plug in your Kindle Fire to your computer via USB.
  4. Go to your Android tools directory (should be something like C:\Program Files (x86)\Android\android-sdk-windows\tools on a Windows computer, or ~/Library/Android/sdk/ on a Mac) and then scroll down until you see a file labeled “ddms” and double-click on it.
  5. A window will pop up and then you should see the Dalvik Debug Monitor.
  6. Your device should be listed under name so click on it.
  7. Now choose Device and Screen capture from the top menu in Dalvik.
  8. A window will pop up showing your Kindle Fire screen and you can hit Save to capture a screenshot. You’ll need to hit Refresh to update for a new screenshot
  9. You’ll be prompted to save it at a location on your computer. Choose a spot.
  10. Congratulations. It’s been an hour, if you’re lucky, but at least you got your screenshot!

Original Kindle, Kindle 2, Kindle DX, Kindle Keyboard

  • Press and hold Alt-Shift-G on the keyboard.

Kindle 4 (the model with neither a touchscreen or a keyboard)

  • Press and hold the home button and the keyboard button.

Kindle Touch

  • Press and hold the home button, and then tap the screen.

Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle (2014), Kindle Voyage, Kindle Oasis

These models don’t have any buttons on the front, so Amazon had to get a little inventive when creating the trigger for the screenshot.

To take a screenshot on a Kindle that doesn’t have buttons, press two opposite corners of the screen (upper left and lower right, or upper right and lower left). I’ve read some instruction guides that say you need to press 2 corners at the same time. That makes it sound like you need to be really precise and get both fingers to touch the screen in one motion. You don’t need to be that exact. Press one corner, don’t lift your finger, and then press the other one, as shown in the video.

Viewing your screenshots

After you have grabbed your screenshot, you need to connect your Kindle to your computer using a USB cable.
The screenshots are saved in different locations on the various models, and you’ll need to connect your Kindle to a computer and transfer them over USB. Generally you’ll find the screenshots in either the main folder or the documents folder. If you don’t see them in either location, you probably didn’t quite get the button presses exactly right.


Chrome Books

Chrome OS was designed by Google to be a way for users to run application inside their Chrome web browser. It is now available on a number of Chrome Book laptops, which have been made by companies like Acer, HP and Samsung. If you would like to grab a screenshot on one of these Chrome Books you need to use the Window Switcher Key. This is the key that has a bunch of rectangles on it, representing a bunch of windows, generally found above the 6 & 7 keys, between full screen and bright down. On some other laptops you might expect to see the F5 key in that position.

Chromebook Window Switcher key.

Take a screenshot of the whole screen

If you press the Control Key (Ctrl) plus the Window Switcher key, a screenshot is copied to the clipboard. If you want to use the screenshot immediately you can go to whatever app you’re using and hit Ctrl and V.

If you don’t need the screenshot immediately then it is also saved in the Downloads folder.

No Keyboard?

If you happen to have a tablet that is running Chrome OS, or indeed one of the 360 degree screens, such as the Google Pixel Book, you’re going to need a different way to take a screenshot. Providing you are running Chrome OS Version 64.0.3282.134, which came out in February 2018, or later you can just press the power button and the volume down button at the same time. This is the same as most Android phones & tablets.

Take a screenshot of part of the screen.

If you only want to take a screenshot of a part of the screen then

  1. Press Ctrl + Shift + Window Switcher.
  2. The mouse cursor will change to a crosshairs.
  3. Click and drag the rectangle to the size of the screenshot that you need.
  4. You can now either press Ctrl + V to paste this screenshot into the app of your choice, or find the file in the Downloads folder.

Windows Phone

There aren’t many Windows phones anymore, but in case you still do, here’s how to take a screenshot:-

  • Windows Phone 8 – Press, and hold, the Power button and then the Start button.
  • Windows Phone 8.1 or Windows 10 – Press, and hold, the Power button and then the Volume Up button. It has to be Volume Up, because if you press Volume Down, the phone will restart.

If you are using the “Continuum” Feature in Windows 10, then this will just take a screenshot of the phone screen. It won’t include any external screens. If you want to get a screenshot of the external monitors, you should follow the instructions for Windows.

Unfortunately, if you have a phone that runs Windows Phone 7 you won’t be able to take a screenshot

To find your screenshot look in the Photos App. In there you will see an album called “Screenshots”.


Xbox one

Xbox has had the ability to capture video since it first came out, but taking a screenshot was only added in 2015.

You can’t take screenshots of the menu interface though, it’s just in games that it works. So launch the game first.

You can take a screenshot on an Xbox One by saying “Xbox, take a screenshot”. Or, you can double-press the Xbox button. That will bring up a new menu, called a Snap Menu. Just press the Y button then to save the screenshot.

Sharing Your Screenshots

  • If you want to share your Xbox One screenshot, launch the Upload Studio app.
  • Pick Manage Captures and open the screenshot you’d like to share.
  • Press the Menu button and then choose Share. From there, you can send your screenshot to Twitter, OneDrive, your personal Showcase, or to a private message.
  • If you want to change your background to be your screenshot then that can be done too. Open the Upload app (That’s not the same as The Upload Studio). Then choose My Captures, open the screenshot that you want, press Menu and choose Set as Background.

Any More?

I think we’ve covered absolutely everything, but you never know. If you have a device which is not covered in this post let us know in the comments below and we’ll update the post with instructions on your device.

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