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Using Your "Print Screen" Key
A number of readers have asked, "What is a computer's Print Screen (PrtScr) key good for?"
Well, this key is a throwback to the early days of computing before printers had been invented that were capable of outputting anything other than just what was seen on a computer's monitor. In 1977 my first PC output-device was just such a "screen printer" and cost $500.
Well, in its own peculiar way, this antiquated key still does that. However, instead of printing the view of your screen onto a sheet of paper, it copies it to the "Windows Clipboard," from where it waits to be pasted onto a background of some kind.
Such a background could be the "canvas" of an image-editing program, such as Windows Paint or Adobe PhotoShop. Or it could be a word processing sheet, such as a blank Microsoft Word page.
Try it for yourself - press your PrtScr key and then open a blank word-processing page. Click Edit>Paste and you will see whatever was on your monitor displayed on the page.
Better yet, paste the Desktop image onto a blank image-editing page, such as an Irfanview canvas.
This is my favorite image-editing program for cropping and/or resizing pictures, and it is completely free at www.Irfanview.com.
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Make a "Screen Shot"
of What You See on Your Monitor
I use the PrtScr key constantly and can't imagine being without it. Here are some sample uses:
If I see an online picture I'd like to have I normally right-click it and use "Save Picture As" to copy it to my Desktop or Pictures folder - or I simply grab the picture with a left-mouse-click and drag it onto my Desktop.
But sometimes these methods don't work (when trying to copy an Adobe Flash image, for instance).
No problem. I simply press my PrntScrn key, open Irfanview, and click its toolbar Paste button (or do Edit>Paste). This pastes an image of my Desktop onto the Irfanview canvas. Then I use my left mouse button to draw a rectangle around the desired picture and click Irfanview's Copy button, followed by clicking its Paste button.
This replaces Irfanview's "Desktop" image with the section just cropped.
Finally, I use Irfanview's File>Save As option to name the picture and choose an image format such as JPG.
Another example: let's say you're using a new program and need some assistance. You click the Help button and a dialog box full of small type appears. Hoping you'll remember what it said, you return to where you were - but the box vanishes and you need to click Help each time you want to see it again.
Well, using the above instructions to "take a picture" of the Help box, you can move it around on your screen as needed.
Yet another example: suppose you're watching a video and would like a "snapshot" of a particular scene. Press PrtScr when the scene appears and do as above to save it to your hard drive.
Just Print a Section of Your Desktop View
If you have multiple windows open on your Desktop and just want to make a screen shot of the one in front of the others, hold down your ALT key while pressing PrtScr and just that window will be pasted into your target document.