6 Ways to Take Screenshots in Windows 8 & 8.1, Using Built-in Tools

snipping toolOne of our readers asked us to share all the Windows tools you can use to take quick screenshots of your screen. We've done a bit of testing and experimentation and we've found six different ways for taking all kinds of screenshots, without using third-party programs. Here's how to take screenshots in Windows 8 and Windows 8.1.

1. Use the Keyboard Shortcut - PrtScn (Print Screen)

The first method is also the best known. It works in all versions of Windows, including Windows 8 and Windows 8.1.

On your keyboard, press the PrtScn (Print Screen) key. This creates a screenshots of the whole screen and saves it to the clipboard. The screenshot is not stored as a file on the disc.

screenshots, Paint, Windows 8, Windows 8.1

Then, open an image editing program like Paint and paste the image from the clipboard. Then, you can save it as a file and even do some basic editing.

2. Use the Keyboard Shortcut - Windows + PrtScn

If you want to take a screenshot of the whole screen and save it as a file on the disc, without using any other tools, then press Windows + PrtScn on your keyboard. Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 will store the screenshot in the Pictures library, under Screenshots.

screenshots, Windows 8, Windows 8.1

You will find your screenshots also by using the Pictures app, by going to Pictures- > Screenshots.

screenshots, pictures, Windows 8, Windows 8.1

3. Use the Keyboard Shortcut - Alt + PrtScn

In Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, you can also take screenshots of the active window. Open the window you want to capture and press Alt + PrtScn on your keyboard.

The screenshot is saved to the clipboard.

screenshots, Paint, Windows 8, Windows 8.1

Open Paint and then paste the image so that you can edit it and save it to your computer or device.

4. Use the Snipping Tool

The Snipping Tool is a great desktop application for taking screenshots. It can create all kinds of screenshots and perform some light editing.

screenshots, Snipping Tool, Windows 8, Windows 8.1

To learn how to use it, please read this tutorial: Take Screenshots with the Snipping Tool in Windows.

5. Taking Screenshots on a Surface/Windows Tablet

If you have a tablet with Windows 8 or Windows 8.1, like Microsoft Surface or ASUS Vivotab or Dell Venue, then you won't have a keyboard with a PrtScn key available. Yes, you can use the Snipping Tool but that's not great on a device with touch.

The only solution is to use the hardware buttons available on your tablet. On most (if not all) Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 tablets, you can take full-screen screenshots by pressing the Windows logo and the Volume Down key at the same time.

screenshots, Snipping Tool, Windows 8, Windows 8.1

You will see the screen getting darker when you do this. This is good, as it signals that a screenshot was made. You will find it in your Pictures library, in the Screenshots folder.

6. Taking Screenshots With the Share Charm (Windows 8.1 only)

Windows 8.1 has further improved the Charms concept and they can also be used to take and share screenshots.

screenshots, Snipping Tool, Windows 8, Windows 8.1

If you would like to learn more about the Charms, read this guide: What are the Charms & How to Use them.

To learn how to take screenshots using the charms, read this detailed step by step guide: How to Share Screenshots from Any App.


As you can see, there are several ways to take screenshots in Windows 8 and Windows 8.1. Unless you have complex needs, you can use the built-in tools and features, without having to install third-party programs.