How to Take Screenshots with the Snipping Tool in Windows

snipping toolAll of us have done our fair share of working with images. Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 offer an easy to use tool for taking more complex screenshots, named the Snipping Tool. In this tutorial I will share how to take screenshots with it, how to save, edit or email a screenshot, how to use the available markup tools and how to change the settings of the Snipping Tool.

Where to Find the Snipping Tool in Windows 7

Windows 7 offers numerous ways to get to the Snipping Tool. You can go to the Start Menu, choose Accessories and then click Snipping Tool.

Snipping Tool, Windows 7, screenshots

A second way is to type the word "snipping" in the Start Menu search box and click Snipping Tool.

Snipping Tool, Windows 7, screenshots

Alternatively, you can run its executable SnippingTool.exe found in the "C:\Windows\System32" folder.

Where to Find the Snipping Tool in Windows 8 & Windows 8.1

In Windows 8, right click on the Start screen and click All apps. This opens the Apps view.

In Windows 8.1 move the cursor or your finger (if you are using a touch display) to the bottom left of the Start screen. An arrow pointing downwards is displayed. Click or tap on it, to open the Apps view.

Then, go to Windows Accessories and you will find the Snipping Tool shortcut.

Snipping Tool, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, screenshots

Obviously, you can type the word snip and the Start screen displays the appropriate results.

The window of the Snipping Tool application looks similar to the screenshot below.

Snipping Tool, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, screenshots

It looks almost identical to the Windows 7 version. Its features are the same and only a few minor settings (e.g. the default ink color) are different in Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 than in Windows 7.

That's why the remainder of this tutorial will be done using the version existing in Windows 7.

Snipping Tool's Main Interface

The Snipping Tool window has three important buttons: New, Cancel and Options.

The New button allows you to select the type of screenshot that you want to take and then take a screenshot. The Cancel button allows you to cancel the current action. The Options button allows you to customize different aspects of the application.

Snipping Tool, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, screenshots

How to Take a Custom Screenshot

There are four types of captures available when pressing the New button:

  • The Free-form Snip enables you to draw an irregular line around an object or area.
  • The Rectangular Snip allows you to take a screenshot shaped as a rectangle, by dragging the cursor around an object.
  • Window Snip allows you to select a window (e.g. your Internet browser) or dialogue box (e.g. error message received from an application) and capture it.
  • Full-screen Snip enables you to capture the entire screen, like the old-fashioned Print Screen key.

Snipping Tool, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, screenshots

To share an example, let's see how to capture a part of your Desktop using Free-form Snip. First of all select the Free-form Snip from the drop down menu and then choose the area that you want to cut.

Snipping Tool, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, screenshots

Select the area that interests you by clicking and dragging your cursor. As you drag, the selected area is surrounded by a red border, if you are using the default settings.

Snipping Tool, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, screenshots

When you release the mouse button, the captured area is automatically copied to the mark-up window, where you can annotate, save or share the screenshot.

Snipping Tool, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, screenshots

How to Edit a Screenshot

This editing window offers useful tools for editing the capture you took. For example, if you are not satisfied with the quality of the picture you can always make a new one using New Snip button. Before saving your screenshot, you can use the Pen and Highlighter tools to add markup to the capture. The Eraser tool removes the marks made with the Pen and the Highlighter.

Snipping Tool, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, screenshots

To save the screenshot, press the Save Snip button, select the location where you want it stored, type the file's name and choose the file type: PNG, GIF, JPEG or HTML. The, press Save.

Snipping Tool, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, screenshots

You may email a screenshot, by using the Send Snip button on the toolbar. It gives you two options: E-mail Recipient and E-mail Recipient (as attachment). To use this button successfully, you need to have an email client installed on your computer. A strange thing we noticed is that the Snipping Tool doesn't work with modern apps from the Windows Store. It is capable of sending your screenshots via email only if you are using desktop email clients like Outlook or Thunderbird.

Snipping Tool, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, screenshots

How to Customize the Snipping Tool

When you start the Snipping Tool, you can click or tap the Options button to set your preferences on how the program should work.

Snipping Tool, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, screenshots

An Options entry is also found in the Tools menu, when editing the screenshots you take.

Snipping Tool, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, screenshots

The available options are in two sections: Application and Selections groups.

The Application section has a set of checkboxes that enable you to make the following changes:

  • Hide Instruction Text - hide the instruction text in the main Snipping Tool window.
  • Always copy snips to the Clipboard - copy all captures to the Windows clipboard so you can paste them into other applications (e.g. Word processors or image editors).
  • Include URL below snips (HTML only) - save your snips as a Single File HTML or MHT documents. If a snip is taken from an Internet Explorer window, it also shows the URL of the webpage included in the screenshot.
  • Prompt to save snips before exiting - gives you a heads up if you have any captures that you have not saved, prior to closing the program.
  • Show screen overlay - if disabled, when you are taking a screenshot, the Snipping Tool transparent overlay is no longer shown on the screen.

Snipping Tool, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, screenshots

The second section, named Selection Options, allows you to make a few settings regarding the color palette :

  • Ink Color - changes the color of the selection border when you create a snip.
  • Show selection ink after snips are captured - when enabled, the selection border is shown around the snip, using the color selected in the 'Ink Color' list.

Conclusion

Now that you know how to use the Snipping Tool, the coast is clear for you to take great looking screenshots. If you have any questions or tips to share, feel free leave a comment.