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Q.  I want to take a screenshot of my screen and save it in a graphics file, so I can email it to a friend. Do I need to purchase or download special software to do this? 

A.  Taking a screenshot (a picture of what's on your computer screen) is easy! It requires no software, because the screenshot function is built into Windows and Mac OS X. With Windows, it's easy -- just press the PrintScreen (or Prnt Scrn) button on the keyboard and Windows will copy the entire screen image to the system clipboard. (Use Alt-PrintScreen if you want just the active window.) Yup, this is the same clipboard that saves snippets of text when you do a copy & paste operation. (For Mac screenshot help, see below.) 

Getting the screenshot image OUT of the clipboard and saving it to a file is just a bit more involved. If you have a favorite graphics or photo editing program that you prefer, open that program now. If not, open the Microsoft Paint program. To do so, press Start, Run, type MSPAINT at the prompt, then press Enter. 

When MS Paint opens, click on Edit, then Paste, as shown in the illustration here. The screenshot image will be pasted from the clipboard into your MS Paint window. If you want to save the entire screen as an image file, click on File, then Save As. Enter a file name that's meaningful and easy to remember, then select JPEG in the Save as type box. Make note of the folder where you're storing the file (My Pictures is a good choice) then press Enter or click the Save button to save the file. 

That's it, you're done! You can attach the image to an email, upload it to a website or save it for further editing.

Advanced Image Editing

If you want to crop, add text, resize or otherwise manipulate the image, MS Paint provides a very basic set of image editing tools. If you handle graphics files on a regular basis and want a more powerful editing tool, try IrfanView. This free software is a fast, small, graphic viewer/editor for Windows that aims to be simple for beginners and powerful for professionals. It supports many graphics file formats, effects (sharpen, blur, etc.), creates slideshows, and can print or email your image files. 

Screenshots With Mac OS X 

Mac OS X offers several ways to take a screenshot. Try the following key combinations in Finder: 

shift - apple key - 3 - Captures the full screen, and places a PDF file with your screen image on the desktop.

shift - apple key - 4 - Lets you capture part of the screen. The cursor will turn into a crosshair, and you can select a portion of the screen. Press the space bar and you can capture a window, menu, icon, etc.

In Mac OS X Tiger, the screen image files are created in PNG format instead of PDF. If you want the image to go to the clipboard instead of a file, hold the control key (ctrl) while taking the screenshot. This is handy because you can then paste the image into any program for further editing.

It is important to note that there is never one fix for a question.  What may work for one person might not for the next.  Depending on the problem and the way it is described by the Computer Owner there may be Six different approaches to a positive outcome.  If the first answer I give you to your question doesn’t work let me know and I will send you another.  Just give me details.

Let me know if you need anything else.

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