Screenshots are handy. You can use them to show your grandparent how to use a new app. You can use them to send a shot of that strange error message to your company’s IT department. You can use them to capture tweets before they disappear down the deletion black hole.
Each of the main operating systems — Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS — incorporates one or more ways to take screenshots. Here’s a quick and simple guide to taking screenshots in all four.
Screenshots on a Mac
Current versions (Mojave and Catalina) of the macOS come with a Screenshot app, which is accessed by pressing Shift-Command (⌘)-5.
You’ll get a command bar that gives you various options. You can take a screenshot of the screen, a window, or a specific selection; you can also take a video of all or part of your screen. There is an “Options” button that lets you choose where you want to save your screenshot to, and you can also set a short delay. When you’re ready, click on the “Capture” button on the right end of the command bar.
If you haven’t upgraded to Mojave or Catalina, you can still save screenshots to your desktop as PNG files.
- To take a screenshot of the entire screen, press Shift-Command-3.
- To take a screenshot of part of the screen, press Shift-Command-4 and then drag the cursor to outline the area you want to capture.
- If you want to capture a specific window, press Shift-Command-4. Hit the spacebar. The cursor will turn into a camera. Hover the cursor over the window you want to capture so it highlights, and then click on it.
Screenshots on a Windows 10 PC
Depending on your specific system, you should be able to take a screenshot by pressing the Windows logo key simultaneously with the PrtScrn (or PrtSc) key (which is usually on the right end of the function key row). If that doesn’t work, you can try adding the Ctrl or Fn key to the combination. The image will be saved in the “Pictures” > “Screenshots” folder as a PNG file.
If that doesn’t work for you (I found that half the time I tried it, the system refused to take the screenshot), a second, more reliable method is to hit Windows + Shift + S, which will bring up a Windows app called “Snip & Sketch.” (The app is also accessible from your Windows app menu.) Your cursor will turn into a plus sign, and you’ll get a small toolbar at the top of the screen that lets you select a rectangular clip, a freeform clip, or just take a shot of the entire screen. The clip (or “snip,” as Windows calls it) will be saved to the clipboard and a thumbnail will appear in the lower right corner of your screen. Click on that to edit the photo, save it (as a PNG, JPG, or GIF file), or share it.
You can, if you want, make the PrtSc key bring up Snip & Sketch when you press it.
- Go to your computer’s settings by selecting the Start button in the lower left corner, and then the gear icon that appears above it.
- In the search box just below the “Windows Settings” page name, type “prtscn.” Somewhere around the “t,” the drop-down menu will show you a selection reading “Use the Print Screen key to launch screen snipping.” Choose it.
- You’ll find yourself on the “Keyboard” page. Look for “Print Screen shortcut” and toggle it on.
Screenshots on an Android phone
There are two ways to take a screenshot of your Android screen (assuming you have Android 9 or 10):
- Press and hold your power button. You’ll get a pop-out window on the right side of your screen with icons that let you power off, restart, call an emergency number, or take a screenshot. Or…
- Hold down the power button and press the volume-down button.
Either way, after you’ve taken the screenshot, it will briefly appear as a smaller version and then disappear, and you’ll get a top notification that lets you share, edit, or delete it.
Something to look for: Some Android phones (for example, certain Samsung and Huawei phones) let you take “long” screenshots, where you can scroll the screen down and capture the entire page. Check your phone’s support pages if you think you might have that — it can be handy.
If you want to find all your past screenshots:
- Go to your Photos app.
- Tap on the three parallel lines in the top left corner.
- Select “Device folders” > “Screenshots.”
Screenshots on an iPhone
Taking a screenshot with an iPhone is simple and uncomplicated:
- Press the side button and the volume-up button simultaneously.
- You’ll get a thumbnail image of your screenshot in the lower left corner.
- Tap on the image to make it larger; there will be editing tools below. Icons in the upper right corner let you delete it or share it.
- When you’re finished, tap “Done” in the upper left corner. You can save the image to Photos, to Files, or delete it.
Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our ethics policy.