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Everything Else » How to take a screenshot

August 13, 2010
by hevans
(NerdKits Staff)

hevans's Avatar

Many times our staff here at NerdKits (and our wonderful community on the forums) is asked to diagnose or help with a problem that is vaguely described. We always encourage customers who email us to include a picture of their setup, and a screenshot of any command line errors they might be getting. Having the full screenshot really helps the debugging process since it often gives us many more clues as to what the problem is than the original poster may have thought to describe.

In order to make this process easier, here is a step-by-step guide to taking a screen shot:

In Windows

In Windows, you can use the Print Screen Print Screen button, usually found near the upper right corner of your keyboard, to copy an image of the current desktop to your clipboard (the equivalent of copying text using Ctrl+C). I recommend you use Alt+Print Screen (hold the Alt key, then press the Print Screen key) in order to copy only the currently selected window. Then open up your favorite image editing program and paste the image right into it. I am going through this example with Microsoft Paint because everybody has it since it is included with Windows.

  • After you press Alt+Print Screen to save the current window to the clipboard, open up MS Paint, which is found in Start -> All Programs -> Accessories.

Open MS Paint

  • Press Ctrl+V to paste the saved image. You should now see your
  • Hide quoted text - image on the canvas.

Paste Screenshot To MS Paint

  • Manipulate the image if you wish.
  • Save the image somewhere you can find it. Saving as a JPEG (.jpg) format is recommended.

In Windows Vista and 7

Windows Vista and Windows 7 have special tool called the snipping tool. It allows you to select a section of your desktop and save it directly as an image. Microsoft does a great job of explaining how to use it, so I don't have to.

In Mac OSX

Pressing Command+Shift+3 will copy your entire screen and save the image to your desktop. Pressing Command+Shift+4 will give you ability to select a rectangle on your screen. The section you select will be saved as an image on your Desktop.

In Linux

Most Linux distributions come with some handy way of capturing a screenshot. In Ubuntu the Print Screen Print Screen button will launch the Screenshot application which makes it easy to grab the whole screen, or a portion of it. You can launch this application from Applications -> Accessories. KDE has a nice screen grabbing tool called ksnapshot. If you are more the command line sort of person, and have imagemagick installed you can do

import -window root screenshot.png

In all Operating Systems - Recommended Method

In all of the methods above you are taking a screenshot and then editing it to your liking in a different image editing program. This is generally a cumbersome procedure. My favorite, and most often used, method of grabbing a screenshot is by using gimp - a free, open source, and rather powerful image editing program. It is not a small piece of software, but once you have it it is very useful for all sorts of image manipulation. To capture a screenshot with gimp, open up the program and choose File -> Create -> Screenshot.

Gimp Create Screenshot

A window will appear asking how you should like to take the screenshot. I usually select "screenshot of a single window," and give myself a 5 second delay. This gives me time to minimize gimp, and get the window the way I want it.

Posting the Screenshot

Once you have the screenshot you can post it to our forums using our recommended best practices for posting pictures.


August 13, 2010
by Rick_S
Rick_S's Avatar

In windows if you just want a screen shot of just the active window you could press alt-printscreen in place of the printscreen key alone. Thought I'd give another option...


August 14, 2010
by Rick_S
Rick_S's Avatar

Whoops,... I feel silly.. You actually said that in your post. I was reading it on my phone and apparantly missed that part :D... Too bad I can't delete my mistake.

I will however state that I totally agree that screen shots are golden, as are the photos of the project in its current state when asking for help. The extra eyes often catch something the person who built the project will miss.

I'm sure that's why authors of books have proof readers. They will catch what the author misses.

Again, I apologise for restating what you had already said....

Rick (With mud on his face :D)

August 25, 2010
by awesome
awesome's Avatar

in iPhone an iPod touch: hold down the power button and press the home key. there will be a camra sound and the photo will be saved to the pictures folder

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