Sometimes, you need to capture your screen’s content to share or save. The snipping tool is a handy program in Windows that lets you take screenshots. You can capture anything on your screen, make notes, save, and share.

How to Open the Snipping Tool

There are four ways to open the Snip Tool:

  • Click the Start button, type “snipping tool,” and select it from the results.
  • Use the keyboard shortcut: Windows logo key + Shift + S for a static image.
  • Press the Print Screen (PrtSc) key for a standard screenshot.
  • For a video, press the Windows logo key + Shift + R.

How to Take a Screenshot on Windows

Open the Snipping Tool, select ‘Snipping Mode’ and choose the type of snip you want from the dropdown.

Rectangle

The rectangular mode is selected by default. This feature is very useful for capturing just a portion of what’s displayed on your screen, such as a specific window, a part of a webpage, or any region you need to highlight.

  • First, choose the Rectangular Snip mode.
  • Then click on the button ‘+ New’. The screen will turn slightly gray and your cursor will change into a crosshair symbol:
  • Click and hold the left mouse button at one corner of the capture area. Keep the button pressed and drag the cursor to the opposite corner.
  • As you drag, you will see a transparent rectangle forming over the screen. This rectangle shows the area you will capture in your screenshot.
How to screenshot on Windows - Rectangle
  • Release the mouse button: Once you have covered the area you want to capture, release the mouse button.
  • The Snipping Tool will then show you the area you’ve captured inside its window.

Window

The “Window Snip” is a useful feature in the Snipping Tool that lets you take a screenshot of an open window on your computer, such as a dialog box, a browser window, or any application window.

  • Open the Snipping Tool and Select Window Snip Mode. This setting prepares the tool to take a screenshot of a whole window rather than just a portion of the screen.
  • Then click on the button ‘+ New’. The screen will turn slightly gray and your cursor will change into a crosshair symbol:
  • When you move this cursor over any open window, you’ll notice that the window is highlighted automatically, indicating that it’s selected for capturing.
How to screenshot on Windows - Window
  • Hover over the desired window and click to select. The Snipping Tool will capture the whole window. This includes the title bar, scroll bars, and visible content.
How to screenshot on Windows - Window

Full Screen

The ‘Full Screen’ Snipping tool captures your whole screen. It includes everything visible when you take the screenshot. You can use it to save your desktop layout or to show all open windows on your screen.

  • Launch the Snipping Tool and select the Full Screen Snip Mode.
  • Then click on the button ‘+ New’. The tool automatically captures a screenshot of your entire screen.

Freeform

The ‘Freeform’ snip tool is ideal for capturing parts of your screen that aren’t rectangular or square. It’s great when you need to focus on an oddly shaped object on your screen. Or, when you want to exclude parts of the background that aren’t relevant.

  • Open the Snipping Tool and select the ‘Freeform’ snip tool.
  • Your screen will slightly fade, and your cursor will change into a crosshair. Click and hold down the left mouse button, then draw around the area you want to capture. You can create any shape: circles, ovals, irregular shapes, or even detailed outlines around complex objects.
How to screenshot on Windows - freeform

How to Annotate Your Screenshot

The Snipping Tool lets you add notes, highlights, and other marks to your screenshots. It’s useful for underlining parts, adding explanations, or highlighting details. Now, let’s see how to use these tools.

Using Pen and Highlighter

  • Capture Your Snip: First, take a screenshot using any of the methods available in the Snipping Tool (e.g., Rectangle, Window, Free-Form, or Full Screen Snip).
  • Open the Annotation Tools: Once you capture the screenshot, it automatically appears in the Snipping Tool window. You’ll find a toolbar with several tools for annotating your screenshot:
How to annotate screenshots in snipping tool
  • Pen: You can use the pen tool to draw freehand on the screenshot. This is useful for circling relevant information, underlining, or drawing arrows.
  • Highlighter: The highlighter allows you to mark text or areas without obscuring the underlying information. It’s perfect for emphasizing important sections, similar to how you might use a highlighter on paper.
  • Eraser: If you make a mistake or want to remove some of your annotations, the eraser tool lets you delete these marks. Simply select the eraser and rub over the area you wish to clear.

💡 You can adjust the color and thickness of the Pen or Highlighter to suit your needs. First, choose the Pen or Highlighter tool. Then, click its icon again to open a customization window. Here, you can pick colors and use a slider to change the thickness of your markings.

Using the Ruler and Protractor

The Snipping Tool also offers Ruler and Protractor tools. They are very useful for drawing straight lines or measuring length and angles on your screenshots.

How to Use the Ruler in Snipping Tool

  • After capturing the screenshot, from the toolbar, select the ‘Ruler‘ option.
How to use the Ruler in Snipping Tool
  • Position the ruler by moving it up and down, or rotate it to align with your measurement needs. To rotate the ruler, hold the mouse over the ruler, and use the scroll wheel. Turn the ruler to the desired angle.
  • Draw along the ruler to create perfectly straight lines.

How to Use the Protractor in Snipping Tool

The Snipping Tool includes a handy protractor tool to help you measure angles directly on your screen. Here’s how to use it:

  • After capturing the screenshot, from the toolbar, select the ‘Protractor‘ option.
  • Position the protractor at the point where the two lines of the angle meet.
  • Choose a pen from the tools.
  • Click and hold the pen to draw along the protractor’s edge from one line of the angle to the other. You will see the angle in degrees.

💡If you need to remove the line and try again, click ‘Undo’ or use the shortcut Ctrl + Z.

How to Save the Screenshot

To save your screenshot in the Snipping Tool, follow these simple steps:

  • After capturing and annotating your screenshot, click the ‘Save Snip’ button. It might look like a floppy disk icon or might simply be labeled as ‘Save.’
  • A window will pop up asking where you want to save your file. Browse through your folders to find the perfect spot, like your Desktop or a specific project folder.
  • Name your file in the ‘File name’ box so you can easily find it later.
  • Choose the format for your screenshot from the ‘Save as type’ list. Formats like PNG or JPEG for images or PDF for documents are common choices.
  • Click the ‘Save’ button to store your screenshot.

Alternative: Copy and Paste the Snip

Instead of saving your screenshot, you can also copy it directly into another program. Simply click on ‘Copy’.

  • Copy the Screenshot: After capturing your screenshot with the Snipping Tool, click the ‘Copy‘ button in the toolbar.
  • Launch the program where you need the screenshot, such as Word, PowerPoint, or an email.
  • Paste the Screenshot: Right-click in the program where you want to add the screenshot and select ‘Paste’ from the menu.

How to Delay Your Screenshot in Windows

The delay feature in the Snipping Tool can be very useful. It lets you capture screenshots that include hidden elements. The Snipping Tool’s default setting is ‘No Delay’. This setting freezes your desktop as soon as you want to take a screenshot. It only allows you to capture what is currently displayed.

But elements like dropdowns or open menus and tooltips only show up when you interact with the screen. By adding a delay, you can make them appear in screenshots.

Here’s how to delay your screenshot:

  • Set the Delay: Click on the ‘Delay’ option in the toolbar. A dropdown menu will appear. You can use it to choose how long the Snipping Tool waits before taking the screenshot, such as 5 seconds. This delay gives you enough time to open menus or hover over items that trigger visual changes.
  • Initiate the Capture: Press the ‘New’ button to start the countdown. Use this time to set up your screen as needed. For instance, if capturing a dropdown menu, navigate to that menu and click it open.
  • Capture the Image: Once the countdown nears zero, the screen will dim. This shows that the Snipping Tool is ready to screenshot. Now, click and drag your mouse around the area you want to capture..

Text Actions with Snipping Tool

The Snipping Tool does more than just capture images. It also features Text Actions with built-in Optical Character Recognition (OCR). This allows you to extract and edit text from screenshots. It’s handy for saving information or hiding sensitive data.

How to Copy and Paste Text from Screenshots

If you need to save text from a website, document, or error message, the Snipping Tool can help. Here’s a simple way to do it:

  • Open the Snipping Tool and screenshot the text
  • Extract the Text: Click on ‘Text Actions’ in the toolbar. This scans your image for any text.
  • Copy the Text: Click the button ‘Copy all text‘.
  • Paste the Text: Go to where you want to paste the text, right-click, and select ‘Paste’. This could be in applications like Word, Notepad, or like in our example an email:
Copy and Paste Text from Screenshots

How to Redact Text from Images

Sometimes you might capture screenshots that include personal information you don’t want to share. This could be an email address or a phone number.

The Snipping Tool has a Redact feature to hide this safely:

  • Open the Snipping Tool and screenshot the text
  • Extract the Text: Click on ‘Text Actions’ in the toolbar. This scans your image for any text.
  • Redact text in image: Click ‘Quick Redact‘. The tool will automatically cover up email addresses and phone numbers. You can also choose what to hide by using the dropdown menu next to ‘Quick Redact’.

The redact feature in the Snipping Tool allows you to black out sensitive text in your screenshots, ensuring important information or personal details remain private. Once the sensitive information is redacted, you can save and share the screenshot safely.

Enlarge, Rotate, or Crop a Screenshot

After taking a screenshot, you might want to change its size, rotation, or crop out parts you don’t need. Here’s how you can do this by utilizing the powerful editing features of Microsoft Paint:

  • Open Your Snip in Paint: With the screenshot open in the Snipping Tool, go to the toolbar and select Edit > Edit with Paint.
  • This will automatically open your captured snip in Microsoft Paint for more advanced editing.

How to Capture a Video Snip

Recording your screen using the Snipping Tool is straightforward. Follow these steps to record your desktop. This is perfect for tutorials, demonstrations, or problem reporting.

  • Select Record Mode: Look for the icon that looks like a video camera in the top toolbar and click it. This sets the tool to record your screen.
snipping tool - screen recording
  • Initiate New Recording: Click the + New button in the upper left corner.
  • Select the Area to Record: Click and drag your mouse to draw a box over the part of your screen you want to record. Adjust the edges if you need to by dragging them.
  • Record Your Screen: Hit the Start button at the top to begin recording after a brief countdown. A red border shows what’s being recorded.
  • Manage Your Recording:
    • To pause the recording, click the Pause button next to the timer. Click it again to resume.
    • To stop the recording, press the red Stop button.
    • If you don’t want the recording, hit the trash bin icon to delete it.
    • Save and Share: Once stopped, the recording appears in the Snipping Tool. You can save, copy, or share it from here. The video saves as an MP4 file, which is easy to use on most devices and platforms

Editing Your Screen Recording

While the Snipping Tool does not offer built-in editing features for your recordings, you can easily enhance and modify your video by clicking on ‘Edit in Clipchamp‘.

snipping tool - edit screen recording

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Leila Gharani

I'm a 6x Microsoft MVP with over 15 years of experience implementing and professionals on Management Information Systems of different sizes and nature.

My background is Masters in Economics, Economist, Consultant, Oracle HFM Accounting Systems Expert, SAP BW Project Manager. My passion is teaching, experimenting and sharing. I am also addicted to learning and enjoy taking online courses on a variety of topics.