The "Print Screen" button isn't another useless function key even though it was used primarily during the days of DOS-based machines.
Nowadays, the print screen command copies an image of your desktop to the clipboard. You can choose to paste the image into an image software program and print it immediately, or you can save it to print at a later time. To make this function print directly to a printer, you need to install and configure some software.
Use PrintKey2000 to Direct Print
Download and save PrintKey2000 or PrintKeyPro from the "Resources" section. Save the file in a folder named "Printkey" on your "C:" drive. Double click the .exe file and follow the onscreen instructions for a problem-free installation.
Access the Print Key program by double-clicking the hand icon in the bottom right hand corner of the task bar.
Double click the "Options" tab in the upper right hand corner. Click on "Define Hot-keys." Set a hotkey for printing the full desktop and for printing the active screen you are in.
Navigate back to the "Options" tab and select "Direct Print (No Dialog)" so that it has a check mark next to it.
Select the "Printer Options" function on the main program screen. Select the printer you want the print jobs sent to.
Select a screen to use as a test. Press your hotkey for printing the full desktop and then the hotkey to print the active page. You want to make sure both functions work properly.
Use the Print Screen Function Without a Plug-in Program
Press the "Print Screen" key on the keyboard to print the full desktop. Press the "Alt" key plus the "Print Screen" key to print the active window.
Click "Start" in the lower left of the taskbar. Navigate to "Applications" and choose the Microsoft Paint program.
Click "Edit" in the program screen and click the "Paste" option. You will now see a copy of your screen capture.
Navigate to "File" and save the screen capture as a .jpeg file. Navigate to "File" again and click "Print" to send the job to an installed printer.
Using the Print Key Function with ScreenShot 2 Print
Download and install ScreenShot 2 Print. ScreenShot 2 Print has a free trial option, and as of May 2010, costs $7 for the full version. Configure the program to print to a designated printer from the onscreen commands. The screen captures will print automatically when the required keys are pressed.
Hold down the "Control" key (Ctrl) and the "Print Screen" key to capture a screen shot of the full desktop. The image will be sent directly to the designated printer.
Hold down the "Shift" key and "Print Screen" key to take a screen shot of the active window, which is sent directly to the printer.