Why does nothing happen when I press the Print Screen key?
This question was answered on January 25, 2024.
The ‘Print Screen’ key (abbreviated as PrtSc or PrtScn) has been around since the 1980s and is just one of many ways to capture what is on your screen.
Depending upon which version of Windows you are running, pressing the key can seem to do nothing or on newer computers, it might launch the Windows ‘Snipping Tool’.
If nothing seems to happen, the screen capture has been copied to the clipboard and needs to be pasted into a program that works with images, such as Paint or Word.
For those who are running the latest version of Windows 11, some cool options, including screen recording, merit a little exploration.
Alt + PrtScn
In any version of Windows, you can capture just the active window instead of the entire screen by pressing Alt and PrtScn together. This will copy what has been captured to the clipboard and can be pasted into an image program by pressing Ctrl + V or right-clicking and choosing ‘Paste’.
Windows Key + PrtScn
When you press the Windows icon key and PrtScn, you’ll see the screen dim for a second, and a PNG image file is created then saved in the Pictures > Screenshots folder of your computer.
This can be very helpful when creating a step-by-step instruction guide to teach others how to use a specific program or utility as each capture is saved with a numerical designation in the order it was captured.
Windows 11 Snipping Tool
If pressing the ‘PrtScn’ key doesn’t launch the Snipping Tool, pressing the Windows icon key + Shift + S will.
The screen will dim, the Snipping toolbar will appear at the top of the screen and your cursor will become a plus sign.
The toolbar includes options to capture using rectangular or freehand selection tools, grabbing a specific window or full-screen capture tools.
Either of the first two allows you to move your mouse to the area of the screen you want to capture by clicking and dragging over it.
When you let go, whatever you captured will be saved in the Pictures > Screenshots folder with a string of numbers that includes the current date.
If you choose the window option, move your mouse over the desired window and click to save it. Clicking on the last option, which is the full-screen capture, saves your entire screen as soon as you tap it.
Snipping Tool Settings
There are settings available for the tool, including the ability to turn the Print screen key into a shortcut for Snipping.
The easiest way to get to the settings is by using the Windows search and typing ‘Snipping Tool’. When it comes up, click on the three dots in the upper right corner, then on Settings.
When you launch the tool manually, it provides an option for recording a video of the screens, which is another great way to create tutorials.
Spending a few minutes exploring this useful tool can help you understand where it might be helpful down the road.
About the author
Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on January 25, 2024