A picture is worth thousand words. This is so very true when you are trying to describe your problem to an IT-specialist. You should always write down exact error messages you are seeing when a program or Windows itself does not work correctly - this helps a lot in problem solving. But it is even better to e-mail screenshots to the IT-specialist trying to help you.
Full screen or open window?
You can take two different types of screenshots in Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1 - either the whole computer screen area or just open window or error message.
Use full screen area only when something is wrong (maybe screen colors or strange open windows) and there is no error message displayed. To do that, press Print Screen (could also be Prt Sc or Print Scrn) button on your keyboard once.
In Windows 8 and 8.1, you can use keyboard shortcut Windows Key+Print Screen to store the screenshots automatically in Screenshots subfolder of your Pictures library. This is a much easier way of creating multiple screenshots quickly. Windows will dim your display for a moment to indicate that screenshot has been successfully created.
If there is an error message, make sure it is active (click once on the message area - but not any buttons in it!) and press right Alt+Print Screen on your keyboard. Right Alt might also be Alt Gr on some keyboards.
Whether you pressed Print Screen or right Alt+Print Screen, the screenshot now resides in a special memory area called Clipboard. Clipboard can only hold one item, so if you take another screenshot, the older one gets overwritten.
Now you should turn the screenshot into a file.
In Windows XP, open Start Menu by clicking the green Start button or by using keyboard shortcut CTRL+ESC, expand All Programs, then move to Accessories and click on Paint.
In Windows Vista and 7, open Start Menu by clicking the Start button or by using keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Esc, type "paint" into Search Box and then click Paint.
In Windows 8 and 8.1, open Start screen and type "paint" - app search starts automatically. Alternatively, use keyboard shortcut Windows Key+Q to open App Search pane.
Touch screen users should swipe in from the right side and tap Search.
In Windows XP and Vista, open Edit menu and click Paste, or use keyboard shortcut CTRL+V.
In Windows 7, 8 and 8.1, click the big Paste button on Ribbon-style toolbar, or use keyboard shortcut Ctrl+V to paste the screenshot from Clipboard to Paint.
You can maximize the Paint window for better visibility and to make sure you pasted the correct screenshot.
In Windows XP and Vista, open File menu and click Save As..., or press Ctrl and S keys simultaneously.
In Windows 7 and later, click the floppy-shaped Save button on Quick Access Toolbar of Title Bar (or use keyboard shortcut Ctrl+S):
By default, Paint saves the screenshot to your My Pictures folder or Pictures library. This is generally fine, but you can also select some other folder to save the screenshot to.
Enter the name of the file to File name and select "JPEG" from Save as type. Then click Save:
That's it! You can now send the saved screenshot via e-mail to your IT-support guy.
Windows 7 and newer have an advanced screenshot tool called the Snipping Tool. This allows specifying the exact portion of a screen to capture, plus emailing the screenshot right away.
To run the program in Windows 7, open Start menu and type "snipping" into Search Box.
In Windows 8 and 8.1, open Start screen and type a part of "snipping" right away - this opens search automatically. Alternatively, use keyboard shortcut Windows Key+Q.
Touch screen users should swipe in from the right side and tap Search first.
Click Snipping Tool in the results.
The program opens and most of computer screen turns a little pale. This is normal.
Often, there is no need to click the New button, for Snipping Tool is ready to capture rectangular areas right away. Just hold down mouse's left button, drag around the region of screen you want to capture and then release the mouse button. Note that the selected part of the screen will turn normal and be surrounded with red rectangle.
If you need to capture full windows, the whole screen or a very specific area, click the down arrowhead part of the New button first. This allows selecting between Free-form Snip, Rectangular Snip (the default), Window Snip and Full-screen Snip.
In most modes, a red rectangle appears around the area to be captured, but in Free-form Snip mode, mouse pointer turns into scissors.
The screenshot is now in the Snipping Tool window. You could use keyboard shortcut Ctrl+S to save it, but let's see some other useful tools in the program.
First, you can use pen to draw attention to an important part. The pen tool is active by default, so just use your mouse to draw something. You can also select a colour for the pen by clicking the down arrowhead in the right part of Pen button on Toolbar.
The Highlighter tool allows to draw a thick, bright yellow bar on text or any other part you want to emphasize.
As there is no Undo command available in Snipping Tool, use the Eraser tool to remove a modification. Just click its button on Toolbar and then click on the highlight or drawing you want to delete.
The most convinient way of emailing the captures is to click the Send Snip button. You must have an e-mail program configured to use this option.
By default, the image is included in the body of the e-mail, but you can also choose to send it as an attachment - just click the down arrowhead part of the button and click E-mail Recipient (as attachment).
If you do not have an e-mail program available, or you use webmail, use keyboard shortcut Ctrl+S to save the snip as an image file (or click the Save Snip button on Toolbar).
By default, the image type is PNG. You can also use the Save as type combo box to save the snip as GIF or JPG image, or even MHT (Single file HTML) file.
Type a name into the File name field and click Save.