What is Print Screen?

Print Screen is a keyboard function that takes a quick “snapshot” of a computer screen, copying it to the clipboard. By pressing the labeled key and opening a paint or image program, the screenshot can be pasted as an image file and from there it can be saved or printed. If the computer user doesn’t need a snapshot of the entire screen, but just wants an image of the active window, he can hold down the alt key while pressing the print screen key. This is a great way to save screenshots of the menu for instructional pages, making it easier for people to follow along when configuring the software, for example.

The screen print key on a computer keyboard.

People can also use the feature when ordering goods online. Once the ordering process is complete, a confirmation page is normally displayed. Instead of printing this page, the buyer copies an image of the screen and saves it until the goods arrive. This means there is no need to use paper or ink.

The screen printing feature only preserves what is easily visible on the screen. Users will not be able to “scroll down” if the page goes beyond the bottom of the screen. For scrollability, a user can save the page as an HTML file. To do this, he can select File from the top toolbar, then choose Save Page As and use the default extension.

Popular word processors such as Microsoft Word® allow images to be pasted into documents using the print screen. Once the key is pressed, the user can simply open the word processor and from the top toolbar choose Edit and Paste. Alternatively, he can right-click on an empty part of the page within the document and choose “paste” from the right-click menu.

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The screen print key is located at the top right of a 102-key US standard keyboard. It can be found by scroll lock and pause keys. In previous decades, pressing this key sent the screenshot to the printer port, automatically printing the screen. Today’s keyboards just copy the snapshot, allowing for greater flexibility.

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