Riddle: What takes 30 seconds one time and saves you time every single day? Answer: Reconfiguring the Windows 11 snipping tool.
This is the story of the lowly “Print Screen” key. I told this story here first. But I told it through the lens of the Windows 10 user. I’m repeating the story for the Windows 11 user. The reason is because the instructions for turning on the shortcut are slightly different.
Misunderstood then. Celebrated now.
First, it was misunderstood. Then it was celebrated for a short time before falling into years of obscurity. But now, it has become the shining star of my Windows keyboard. Maybe after reading this post, you’ll have a special appreciation for that key as well.
“Print Screen” is broken.
Or at least that’s what I thought when I first worked with a Windows machine. If you hit a button labeled “print screen,” shouldn’t it take whatever is on the screen and send it to the printer? When I hit that key, it did nothing at all.
Later, I learned the key was just poorly-named. Had it been called “Copy Screen,” I would have realized its function was to copy the screen to the clipboard. Then I could paste the screen image anywhere.
“Print Screen” is great!
I’ve conducted technology-related workshops for a very long time. In those early days, I would often include pictures of my screen in the PowerPoint slides.
“How did you get that picture of your screen in the slide?” was the usual question. So, I would explain the Print Screen key. “That’s great!’ they would say.
“Print Screen” is worthless.
The Print Screen key came with a downside. What if you don’t need an image of the entire screen? What if you just want to grab a small part of the screen? Using the Print Screen key meant having to crop the image down to the proper size. Plus, I found another tool that performed better: the Windows “Snipping Tool.”
In 2002, Windows introduced the “Snipping Tool.” Once you found and installed it on your toolbar, the process was simple. Click the Snipping Tool and then click and drag across the portion of the screen you wanted to copy. Release the mouse button and the image was copied to the clipboard.
The Windows Snipping Tool was amazing for copying error messages or images from any website. This tool was a major game-changer for me and for those with whom I shared it.
Microsoft decided to replace the Snipping Tool with one called “Snip & Sketch.” While it works well, the keyboard shortcut is clunky. Shift plus Windows plus “S” isn’t the easiest shortcut to remember nor the easiest shortcut to use.
“Print Screen” is amazing!
What if you could combine the power of Snip & Sketch with the ease of hitting one key? Take this article to your computer and let’s turn on the function that’s going to do it for you.
- Click in the search window located in the taskbar at the bottom of the screen.
- Type “Accessibility keyboard settings” and click the result the search returns.
- Scroll down to “Use the Print screen button to open screen snipping .”
- Flip the switch to “On.”
- Click the “X” in the upper-right corner of the screen to close the box.
- You’re done!
Now, when you hit the Print Screen button, it opens Snip & Sketch. One easy-to-remember button has just replaced an awkward three-key combination.
Hit “Print Screen” and drag the mouse to highlight what you want to grab. If you want the entire screen, you even see a small menu that allows for grabbing an entire window or even the entire screen.
This one small enhancement, updating the Print Screen key, took seconds to enable and has quickly become something I use many times every day. Take a second to enable it now. I hope it will improve your productivity as well.
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