How to take screenshots on PC, macOS, Linux, and mobile – The Absolute Guide

Taking screenshots on your computer, whether that runs Windows 10, macOS, or Linux is vital for everyone, from everyday users to… bloggers. There are many ... Read more

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Updated: November 29, 2022 @ 01:00

By Anastasios Antoniadis

Taking screenshots on your computer, whether that runs Windows 10, macOS, or Linux is vital for everyone, from everyday users to… bloggers. There are many ways to do so in on every operating system, but to give an idea of the best ways to take a screenshot on each operating system, let's pin it down to these options:

  • On Windows 10, the built-in Snip & Sketch tool is a fantastic option in 2021.
  • On macOS pressing Shift-Command-5 is the best way, similar to Snip & Sketch.
  • On Linux, using the PrintScreen button is an easy way to capture a screenshot with your keyboard, and Gnome's Screenshot is a great tool similar to Windows' Snip & Sketch.
  • On iOS pressing the side button (or Home for older iPhones) and volume-up will do the trick
  • On iPadOS pressing the top button (or Home on older iPads) and volume-up will capture a screenshot
  • On Android, the universal way is pressing Volume down and Power simultaneously. Otherwise, it depends on the phone manufacturer, so check the list at the bottom of this post.

How to capture screenshots on Windows 10

Snip & Sketch

On Windows 10, I always have the Snip & Sketch tool on my taskbar, but another way to open it is by pressing Windows key + Shift + S. The Snip & Sketch tool is easier to access, share and annotate screenshots than the old Snipping Tool. You can also find the Snip & Sketch tool in the alphabetical list of apps accessed from the Start button. You can also find it on the notification panel (you can open it by clicking the notification icon on the bottom right corner) listed as Screen snip. Finally, you can search for it if the other ways don't work for you.

Snip & sketch windows tool menu
The Snip & Sketch menu is at the top of your screen. Source: PC Tech Bytes

The keyboard shortcut or the notification button will dim your screen and open a tiny menu at the top of your screen that lets you choose which type of screenshot you want to take. The available options are:

  • Rectangular snip: This options lets you capture any type of rectangular shape in your screen
  • Free-form snip: With this option, you can capture any kind of shape you want
  • Window snip: This allows you to capture any open window on your screen
  • Fullscreen snip: This option lets you capture the full screen or screens

You will probably find the rectangular and window snip the most useful among the four options. Once you take your screenshot, it will be saved to your clipboard and show up for a moment as a notification in the lower-right corner of your screen.

Click the notification to open the screenshot in the Snip & Sketch app to annotate, save or share it. You can find the notification in the aforementioned notifications menu if you miss it.

Alternatively, if you open Snip & Sketch from the Start menu or search for it, it will open the Snip & Sketch window. You must click the New button in the upper-left corner to launch the small screen capture panel. If you click the down-arrow button next to the New button, you can delay your snip for 3 or 10 seconds.

Snipping Tool

The Snipping Tool has been around since Windows Vista, and it was the top screen capturing option until Snip & Sketch became awesome. Eventually, the Snipping Tool will be removed, so I don't recommend using it, but I included it in this guide for completeness. You won't find the Snipping Tool in the apps list section of the start menu, but you can use the search bar next to the Windows start menu button to search for it.

After you open the Snipping Tool window, you can click the New button to begin the screenshot capturing sequence. The default snip type is rectangular, but you can also take free-form, full-screen, and window snips, just like Snip & Sketch.

The Snipping Tool does not automatically save screenshots. Instead, it copies them to the clipboard and opens a window where you can edit your capture. In that window, you can manually save your screenshot.

Print Screen

You can use the Print Screen or PrtScn key on your keyboard to capture your entire screen. Your screenshot will then be copied to the clipboard. You will need to use an image editing tool (such as Microsoft Paint), paste the screenshot, and save the file. Since this option is limited to capturing your entire screen (or screens), you will probably need to do some editing anyway.

However, you can also set the PrtScn key to open the Snip & Sketch tool by heading to Settings > Ease of Access > Keyboard and turning on the option Use the PrtScn button to open screen snipping under Print Screen Shortcut. This is highly recommended if you ask me.

Windows key + Print Screen

You can press the Windows key + Print Screen shortcut on your keyboard to capture your entire screen and automatically save the screenshot. Your screen will temporarily dim to show that you've just taken a screenshot. The screenshot will be saved to the Pictures > Screenshots folder.

Alt + Print Screen

Finally, to take a screenshot of the currently active window, you can use the keyboard shortcut Alt + PrtScn. This will snap your active window and copy the screenshot to the clipboard. Once again, you need to open the screenshot in an image editor to save it manually.

This concludes the best ways to capture a screenshot on Windows devices. These are the most straightforward and flexible options, with the Snip & Sketch tool standing out as the cream of the crop. Let's now move to other operating systems.

macOS capture screenshot take screen shot
Source: Canva

How to capture screenshots on macOS

Capturing screenshots on a MacBook or a MacBook Pro (or, you know, the rest of the Mac army) requires you to remember three keyboard shortcuts. There is also a fourth option if you have a MacBook with a touch bar. You also have several options to open the screenshot for markup and editing, save it, or delete it. Here are all the keyboard shortcuts for screen capturing on macOS:

Shift-Command-3

This Command-Shift-3 keyboard shortcut captures a screenshot of the entire screen.

Shift-Command-4 

With this keyboard shortcut, you can turn the cursor into a crosshair, which you can drag to select a portion of your screen to capture. Just release the mouse button or trackpad to take the screenshot.

Here is the exciting part. You have several other options after hitting Shift-Command-4:

Press and release the space bar: The crosshair now turns into a little camera icon, which you can move over any open window. Click on the window of your choice to capture a screenshot of it. Screenshots captured with this method feature a white border around the window with a drop shadow.

Press and hold the space bar after dragging the cursor to highlight the selected area before releasing the mouse button or trackpad. This option locks in the shape and size of the selection area but allows you to reposition it on the screen. This is very convenient if your initial selection area is off by a few pixels, as you can hold down the space button and readjust the captured area before taking the screenshot.

Hold down the Shift key after dragging the cursor to highlight an area before releasing the mouse button or trackpad: This one locks in each side of the selection area with the crosshairs except for the bottom. So you can move your mouse up and down to adjust the bottom side before capturing a shot.

Moreover, you can release the Shift key and hit it once again without releasing the mouse button to reposition the right edge of your selection area. You can cycle through moving the bottom or right edge by keeping the mouse button or touchpad engaged and pressing the Shift key.

Shift-Command-5

This one is the latest addition to the macOS screen capturing options. It was added in 2018, and it is quite a bit Windows-like. By pressing Shift-Command-5, you launch a small screen capturing panel at the bottom of your screen. The panel provides you with three screen capturing options:

  • Full-screen capture
  • Window capture
  • Selection area capture

It also provides access to two screen-recording options:

  • Full-screen recording
  • Selection area recording

You can close the panel by hitting escape or clicking the X button on the left. On the right side, you will find an Options button that allows you to choose the saving location of your screenshot, with the options being:

  • Desktop
  • Documents
  • Clipboard
  • Mail
  • Messages
  • Preview

You can also set a 5-second or a 10-second delay before capturing the screenshot.

This method provides a floating thumbnail preview of the selection area you are about to capture. The great thing about the Floating Thumbnail is that you can click on it to open a Markup View window with several available tools, just like the ones you can find in Preview. You can also right-click the Floating Thumbnail to:

  • Save the screenshot to your desktop, Documents folder or clipboard
  • Open it in Mail, Messages, Preview or Photos
  • Show in Finder
  • Delete
  • Open it in the aforementioned Markup preview window
  • Close it and save it

Finally, you can choose to show or hide the mouse pointer in your screenshot or screen recording.

Shift-Command-6

This option is available on MacBooks that come with a touch bar and captures just the touch bar itself. I have never used this guide outside, to be honest.

Overall, the macOS options are amicable, with some quick shortcuts and a full-blown capturing and editing tool when using the Command-Shift-5 shortcut.

It's time for everyone's favorite penguin, then!

How to capture screenshots on Linux

Like you would expect from Linux, you can find effortless and straightforward ways to capture a screenshot, but you can also find some very exotic – or even annoying ones. This guide focuses on the former options as we look at the best ways to capture a screenshot on every operating system. So here are the options for screen capturing on Linux.

Print Screen/PrtScn

This option will capture the whole screen or screens, asking you where to save your screenshot.

Alt + Print Screen/PrtScn

This shortcut will create a screenshot of your active window. The file will be created in your Pictures folder.

Shift+ Print Screen/PrtScn

With this option, you will draw a rectangular selection of the area captured in the screenshot. The screenshot file will be saved in the ~/Pictures directory.

The Gnome Screenshot utility tool

You can find this tool by searching for “Screenshot” or in the Accessories folder of the Applications menu. This tool is similar to Windows' Snip & Sketch and macOS' Shift-Command-5 options. It allows you to capture:

  • A full-screen snapshot of the whole screen or screens
  • The currently active window
  • A selected rectangular area

With the Gnome Screenshot tool, you can also choose to delay the screen capturing process for any number of seconds. You can also choose to include or exclude the mouse pointer and the window border.

How to take screenshots on iOS/iPadOS

Once again, here we go with the easy ways to capture your screen on iPhones or iPads. It is straightforward to capture screenshots on your iPhone. All you need to do is:

  • Press the side and volume-up buttons simultaneously on iPhones and instantly release them. For iPad, you need to press the top and volume-up buttons.
    • Note for older iPhone/iPad users: if you have an iPhone/iPad with a Home button, you need to press the side/top button and the Home button instead.
  • This will create a thumbnail image of your screenshot in the lower-left corner
  • Tap on the thumbnail to enlarge it, and icons will appear in the upper-right corner, allowing you to share or delete the screenshot. There will also be editing tools below that will let you add highlights or markup annotations. Click on the plus sign in the lower-right corner and add text, a signature, arrows, or various shapes.
  • When you're finished, tap “Done” in the upper-left corner. You can save the image to Photos, Files or delete it. If you save the screenshot in Photos, you will find it under Albums > Screenshots.

How to take screenshots on Android

Time to head to the final operating system featured, Android. This one is a mess because Android OEMs cannot even agree on such a basic operation. Here is how to capture a screenshot on every different Android OEM smartphone model.

The universal way to take a screenshot on Android devices

If this works, and it probably will if your device is not too old, you are saved!

  1. Open the screen that you want to capture.
  2. Depending on your phone:
    • Press the Power and Volume down buttons at the same time.
    • If that doesn't work, press and hold the Power button for a few seconds. Then tap Screenshot.
    • If neither works, check the list below for your Android phone's manufacturer.
  3. At the bottom left, you'll find a preview of your screenshot. On some phones, at the top of the screen, you'll find Screenshot capture

Acer phones

  • Hold down the power and volume-down buttons for a couple of seconds.
  • Pull down the notification panel to reach quick settings and tap the Screenshot icon.

Asus phones

  • Hold down the power and volume-down buttons for a couple of seconds.
  • Pull down the notification panel to reach quick settings and tap the Screenshot icon.

Google phones

  • Nexus: Hold down the power and volume-down buttons for a couple of seconds.
  • Pixels: Hold down the power and volume-down buttons for a couple of seconds.

HTC phones

  • HTC U12+: Press and hold the power button until your phone vibrates, and then tap the virtual home button on the navigation bar while still pressing the power button
  • HTC U series (up to U12+): Hold down the power and volume-down buttons for a couple of seconds.
  • HTC 10: Hold down the home and power buttons OR hold down the power and volume-down buttons for a couple of seconds.
  • All other HTC phones: Hold the power and volume-down buttons for a couple of seconds.

Huawei and Honor phones

  • Hold down the power and volume-down buttons for a couple of seconds.
  • Pull down the notification panel, switch to Shortcuts, and tap the Screenshot icon.

Lenovo

  • Hold down the power and volume-down buttons for a couple of seconds.
  • Pull down the notification panel and tap the Screenshot icon.

LG phones

  • LG G7: Press and hold the power and volume-down buttons for a couple of seconds.
  • All other LG phones: Hold down the power (located on the back of the phone) and volume-down buttons for a couple of seconds.
  • Pull down the notification panel and tap the Capture+ icon.

Motorola phones

  • Hold down the power and volume-down buttons for a couple of seconds.

OnePlus phones

  • All OnePlus phones: Press and hold the power and volume-down buttons for a couple of seconds.
  • OnePlus 5, 5T, and 6: Swipe down on the home screen with three fingers.

Samsung phones

  • Galaxy S8 and later: Hold down the power and volume-down buttons for a couple of seconds.
  • Galaxy S7 and earlier: Hold down the home and power buttons for a couple of seconds.

Sony phones

  • Hold down the power and volume-down buttons for a couple of seconds.
  • Hold down the power key until a screen appears and tap Take screenshot.

ZTE phones

  • Hold down the power and volume-down buttons for a couple of seconds.

Google Assistant

On supported phones, you can also ask Google Assistant to take a screenshot. When you're on the screen you want to snap, say, “OK, Google, take a screenshot,” and this will capture the screen under the floating assistant pop-up. You'll have to resort to the hardware buttons to capture the Google Assistant screen itself.

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