How to Take a Screen Shot Without MS Paint

By Lynne Pettus

No need to use MS Paint to take screenshots; instead, use Windows Snipping Tool, which has several options.

You don't need to use Microsoft Paint to take a screen shot on Windows. Windows versions since Vista have shipped with the screen shot utility Snipping Tool, a handy, easy-to-use tool that can take a screen shot of the entire screen, an active window or a specified area. You can also use Windows' PrtScn keyboard shortcut, but Print Screen prints anything that is visible on your screen and does not allow you to specify just a window or a portion of the screen.


The Snipping Tool offers a small set of tools for annotating a screen shot, but does not include other editing tools. For editing, use Microsoft Paint or any other image-editing application.

Take a Screen Shot

Free-Form Snip

Draw a line around an area of any shape.

Selecting Free-form Slip turns your cursor into a scissors icon. Draw a line around an area of any shape.

Rectangular Snip

Drag your cursor around a rectangular area.

The Rectangular Snip turns your cursor into a crosshairs. Drag the cursor around a rectangular area.

Window Snip

Select the window that you want to capture.

Selecting Window Snip turns the cursor into a hand. Select the window that you want to capture.

Full-Screen Snip

The Snipping Tool immediately captures your entire screen.

The Full-screen Snip does not affect your cursor; rather, the Snipping Tool immediately captures your entire screen.

Step 1

Open the document or window that you want to capture. Press Windows-X to open the Power menu, search for "snipping" and select Snipping Tool from the search results to open the Snipping Tool dialog.

Step 2

Select a type of screen shot.

Click New to view the drop-down menu and select a type of screen shot.

Snipping Tool Options

Options Dialog

Open the Snipping Tool Options window

Click Options on the dialog to open the Snipping Tool Options window. Choose any of the snipping options:

  • Hide instruction text: Hides the instructionaltips describing the type of snip on the Snipping Tool dialog, slimming theinterface to a ribbon. This option is disabled by default.
  • Always copy snips to the Clipboard: Retainingthis default means that you can easily use Ctrl-V to paste your screen shotinto another application.
  • Include URL below snips: Enabled by default,this option displays a Web page's URL at the bottom of a screen shot -- butonly if you are using Internet Explorer.
  • Prompt to save snips before exiting: Doeswhat most applications do to prevent your losing work.
  • Show screen overlay when Snipping Tool is Active: Displays an opaque white film over your screen when the tool is active.If this is distracting, disable it; it is enabled by default.

Menu Tools

Some editing tools are available on the menu bar.

Menu bar tools.

The three left-most icons provide access to creating a new capture, saving a capture and copying a capture. Three right-most icons offer some basic editing features:

  • Pen icon: The pen icon includes a drop-down menu for customizing the annotation color. Clicking Customize opens a Custom Pen dialog in which you can select colors, the width of the tip and the type of tip, either chiseled or round.
  • Highlighter icon: This icon has no options; when selected, your cursor becomes a yellow bar with which you highlight in yellow any area of your capture.
  • Eraser icon: The eraser icon erases annotations or highlights.

Save Options

The Envelope icon in the middle of the menu bar enables you to send your screen shot to an email recipient using your Windows default email application.

Email options.

The option E-mail Recipient creates an email message with the capture embedded in the email; the as attachment option makes the screen shot an attachment instead.

The Snipping Tool offers a few simple options, accessed either from the Options dialog or from the menu bar buttons. In addition, you can choose how to save the snip.


On Windows 10, an additional Delay option displays on the menu bar, offering a time-delay shutter. This can be useful to capture pop-up or drop-down menus accessed by cursor action -- something Snipping Tool could not do in earlier OS versions.