Microsoft Snipping Tool

Screen capture an area of a computer screen using the Microsoft Snipping Tool - a Windows 10 app

Snipping Tool

Snipping Tool

Being able to capture a computer screen as an image can be very useful, I use it to save an image of something I want to refer to when sending a message (i.e. a problem with someone’s website for example) or when creating a training guide / user manual for computer software / apps.

Windows has an easy to use screen capture option - just hit the PrtScn button and you can then paste the copied image file into a graphics / image editor. While this is easy to do it does record ALL of your computer's screen including your menus and taskbar. You then need to edit the image to exclude the areas you do not want to show. While it only takes only a few minutes to do this it can get tedious when creating a teaching or training guide and need to show a number of screen captures to demonstrate how to use software.

This is where software can be used to screen capture just the area you want to show. You can buy software / apps to do this you may find that the free Windows 10 Snipping Tool will do all you want very easily and it is built into your Windows 10 operating system as an app.

To open the Snipping Tool

Instructions on how to open the Microsoft Windows 10 Snipping Tool

Using the Microsoft Windows 10 Snipping Tool app

Now that you have located and opened the Snipping Tool app you can use it to capture an image of the computer screen, or just a selected part of the screen in an image format (.jpg, .gif, .png for example).

First you need to think of what you want to screen capture – the snip tool gives you four options:

Snip tool selection options

Free-form Snip

Rectangular Snip

Window Snip

Full-screen Snip

Let us start by selecting Rectangular Snip, this allows you to create a rectangular area with your mouse that you wish to capture.
Instructions to take your first step in using the snip tool

  1. Click on Mode and choose Rectangular Snip - the snipping tool app disappears and you can drag
  2. Or click on New
  3. Drag the rectangular snip area over the part of the screen you want to capture – then let go your mouse button.

You now have an image captured of the area you selected.

Snipping Tool with image of captured screen area

At this point you can use the simple drawing, highlighting and eraser tools available in the app toolbar. You can also transfer the image into Paint 3D and use the more sophisticated tools within this application.

You can also save the image as a file on your computer. To do this click on the File menu and select Save As ... to save to a folder of your choice.

Snipping Tool in Windows 10 - Using the File > Save Ass ... option to save the picture to a folder

You also have other options including copying to the Windows clipboard (and then pasting later to another application (i.e. Word, Paintshop Pro). The application also gives you the option to send the image in an e-mail.

Tip: If you want to select an application to work on and you have several open when using the Snipping Tool then simply change the Delay drop down menu and give yourself 3 or more seconds to click on the application you want to screen capture.

Snipping Tool - Selection Mode

Windows Snipping Tool - Selection Mode

Free-form Snip

This allows you to draw around the object you want to screen capture, example below:

Free-form Snip

Rectangular Snip

This option allows you to drag rectangular capture over the screen area you are interested in, example below.

Snipping Tool Options - Rectangular Snip

Windows Snip

This allows you to capture an image of a selected open Window or dialog box, the example below is the New image dialog window in Paintshop Pro 2018 - showing the image size options for Paper (printing). Note the paper sizes are set for the UK.

Snipping Tool - Window Snip allows you to capture an image of a selected application Window allows you to capture an image of the active Window

Full-screen Snip

This enables you to screen capture your whole computer screen at one time, example below.

Snipping Tool - full screen snip

Paintshop Pro

Paintshop Pro from Corel also has a built in Screen capture tool that is in my opinion a lot more powerful and flexible than the built in "free" Windows 10 Snipping Tool. The other advantage is that you capture your screen image into a very feature rich image editing and graphics application - Paintshop Pro.

While most professional graphic artists and photographers use Adobe products for image editing I personally find that their new licencing demands for yearly subscriptions far too expensive for the enthusiast and amateur, and for many professionals working with images and graphic files. You can buy a software licence for Paintshop Pro at a fraction of the cost of the annual license charges made by Adobe and get most, if not all, the graphic editing and photo manipulation tools. If you already own a Paintshop Pro license then consider upgrading to the latest version, it is surprisingly powerful, especially the 64 bit version. You also get a range of free software applications depending on the offer made by Corel.