How to | Shortcut key to start screen capture using Windows Snipping Tool?

snipping tool keyboard shortcut to start snipping

There may come a time when a Windows user might need to take screenshots of desktop to capture the whole desktop window or just a region to put it in documents or save as image. I being a blogger, I use screenshots a lot for my blog posts. In this post, we will discuss how to use the Windows default Snipping Tool for the purpose of taking screenshots and how to use shortcut to take screenshots using the Snipping Tool without the need to install any third part software.

Problem with using Print Screen
On any computer keyboard there is a "Print Screen" key to take the screenshot of the entire desktop window. But it captures the entire desktop window and also, the captured image is in the clipboard (computer memory). So, we have to put it in an image editor or other programs (such as Microsoft Word Document) to see the image taken. Normally, on Windows Computer, people generally paste screenshots taken with Print Screen on Microsoft Paint program to edit further. If only a particular region of the desktop is required, we can use the crop tool to take out only that particular portion and save the image. So, as you can see, using the Print Screen, though simple, requires some additional work to be done to save or get the image. If Print screen is not your choice of taking screenshots, use Windows Snipping Tool instead.

Snipping Tool

Snipping Tool is a screenshot utility included in Windows Vista and later.  

If you are still using Print Screen, switch to Snipping Tool, which is much more convenient, especially if you want to take screenshots of particular region of the desktop. You don't need to install any additional third party software to take screenshots if you are comfortable using Snipping Tool. I had also used third party software for screenshot purpose and after trying Snipping Tool, I found third party tools are not necessary as Snipping Tool does the job well.

Snipping Tool allows four different types of snips:
snipping tool modes
  • Free-form snip: Draw a free-form shape around an object.
  • Rectangular snip: Drag the cursor around an object to form a rectangle.
  • Window snip: Select a window, such as a browser window or dialog box, that you want to capture.
  • Full-screen snip: Capture the entire screen.

To take screenshot of portion of desktop window, choose "Rectangular Strip".

Start Snipping Tool:
  • Select the Start  button, type snipping tool in the search box, and then select Snipping Tool from the list of results.
Setting  shortcut key to start Snipping Tool
  • Select the Start  button, type snipping tool in the search box
  • Right-Click on the Snipping Tool, and click "Open File Location". A Windows Explorer window will open where you can find a shortcut for the Snipping Tool.
  • Right-click on the shortcut and click on Properties
  • Click on the ShortCut tab and click on the ShortCut text box.
  • Press the keys on the keyboard that you want to set as the shortcut combination.
  • Click Apply and Ok
  • Test by pressing the key combination
snipping tool keyboard shortcut set

How to use shortcut key to start the snipping operation?
Usually, after starting the Snipping Tool, we can click on the "New" button on the tool to take snips. Depending on the mode selected, the snip can be taken. This is ok if we are taking screenshots of regular window. But you might have noticed that you cannot take screenshots of menus. As but the time we click "New", the menu is out of focus.

Unable to take screenshots of menus with Snipping Tool?
Capture a snip of a menu
Screenshots of menus cannot be taken by using the Snipping Tool GUI as by the time we click on the "New" button, the menu vanishes. To take screenshots of menus, we need another shortcut which will directly start the screen capture activity. Luckly, there is by default.

  • Open Snipping Tool (if a schortcut is set, you can use the shortcut to start Snipping Tool)
  • Make sure the mode is "Rectangular Snip" if you want to take only portion of the window
  • Open the menu that you want to cpature(For Windows 7, press the Esc key before opening the menu.)
  • Press Ctrl + PrtScn keys.
  • Select the area of the screen to capture
As you can see in the screenshots below, I was able to easily take screenshots of Window Menu as well as Website menu using Snipping Tool.

shortcut capturing menu screenshot with snipping tool
Windows Menu screenshot taken with Snipping Tool
shortcut menu of website snipping tool
Menu of a website taken with Snipping Tool

If you still think you need third party software, check out some good free screenshot software for Windows.

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