How To Take Screenshots


Suppose you want to save or show someone else exactly what you are looking at on your computer screen. There may be times when you cannot highlight and copy some text or a program window or an image. Using the screenshot or screen capture function may be your best solution to get the image of what you see on your screen.

Once you have the screenshot saved, you can paste it directly into a document, an email, or an editing program to further crop or highlight what you want to capture. Microsoft’s basic Paint program is great for such simple editing and saving of a screenshot that you may then share with others.

So, here is How To Take Screenshots on various computers and mobile devices.


Whether you are using a laptop or desktop Windows based computer, the keyboard associated with that computer should have a key somewhere on it labeled “PrtSc” or “PrtScn” or “Print Screen.” Now, push it!

You just took a screenshot of whatever is displayed on your monitor from corner to corner which is now stored on your clipboard and ready for pasting into a document or other program. The easiest way to see what you just took a screenshot of is to paste it (CTRL+V) into the basic Windows Paint application. You may easily use the select function to further select a portion of the screen you want to use or save.

Alternatively, you may want to take a screenshot of only the active window/program you have open, e.g. just your browser and nothing else shown on your screen. You may do so by pressing “Alt + PrnScn” to limit the screen capture to only the active window.

Here is an example of a screenshot pasted into Microsoft Paint. The logo is then selected (top left) for a more detailed copying or cutting from the screenshot.

Screen Shot

Apple Mac OS

Like the Windows PC, just tap the Print Screen key, right? Wrong (spoiler alert: there isn’t one).

But don’t panic, it’s not too difficult once you know the magic key pattern to use. For screenshots on a Mac, there are two of them COMMAND+SHIFT+3 or 4.

To take a screenshot of your entire screen, press COMMAND+SHIFT+3 at the same time. The computer will take a full screenshot of your entire screen and save it as a file on your desktop.

To take a screenshot of part of your screen, press COMMAND+SHIFT+4 at the same time. Instead of taking a screen capture of everything, your cursor will become a crosshair pointer for you to select (by dragging and releasing your crosshair with the mouse or touchpad) the portion of the screen to copy.

Want more Mac magic key patterns for screenshots? You got it! You also may press COMMAND+CONTROL+SHIFT+3 to copy the entire screen onto your clipboard (like the lone PrtScn key for Windows), whereas using COMMAND+CONTROL+SHIFT+4 again allows you to select a portion for copying to the clipboard instead of directly creating an image file on your desktop.

Apple iOS

Devices using Apple’s iOS operating system, such as iPhones and iPads, allow you to take a screenshot by simultaneously holding down the POWER + HOME buttons until you see a screen-flash indicating the screenshot has been made and saved to your device’s photo gallery. If your volume is on, you should hear a camera shutter sound as well.

One pointer here is to quickly push the POWER button first before the HOME button. This seems to work best, as doing the opposite could lead to you having an impromptu conversation with Siri instead, or exiting from the open app of which you are taking a screenshot.

Google Android

Similar to the iPhone, mobile devices using Google’s Android operating system have a built-in ability to take a screenshot by simultaneously holding down the POWER + VOLUME buttons until you see a screen-flash indicating the screenshot has been made and saved to your device’s photo gallery. If that does not work, try the same method with the POWER + HOME buttons.

Two other options for Android devices are to use an app to assist you in taking a screenshot or look for the “Palm swipe to capture” or “Palm swipe” option under Settings -> Motion. Once activated, you simply swipe the entire screen once from side-to-side to capture your screen.

Third-Party Applications

Lastly, there are various third-party software applications that help you take a screenshot and edit the results. As with anything you download to your computer, be careful of the source and validity.

Screenshots as Evidence?

Now that you know how to take a screenshot of what is being displayed at any given time on a computer or mobile device’s display, can this serve as a useful tool to preserve evidence for a trial? Assuming the screenshot contains relevant information, is the printing of what is on the display and laying the foundation similar to that of any other photograph sufficient? Maybe.

The question may turn on what the screenshot is being submitted as evidence to authenticate. For example, screenshots of alleged posts to social media are merely an alleged record of what was viewable while lacking more “circumstantial indicia of authenticity” such as the purported social media page’s source code, IP address, and other key metadata that is lost in a mere image resulting from a screenshot.

In Perry v. Perry, 2012 IL App (1st) 113054, a party attempted to admit photos into evidence which a party claimed were screenshots of a website. The court noted, “there is a growing trend nationally to allow similar Web site screenshot evidence, based either on some distinctive evidence that the photo or screenshot had some distinctive characteristic of the Web site or based on authentication by a witness’s testimony or affidavit.”

After commenting on the ability to manipulate digital images, the court concluded that there was insufficient foundation to establish the screen captures where authentic as there was no website address visible in them and a lack of supporting testimony.





It is clear that becoming conversant, if not proficient, in technology is now required for being a lawyer. It’s even written into a comment to Rule of Professional Conduct 1.1 that defines competence. So, promoting professionalism includes promoting technology. We are devoting a blog in the first week of each month to an issue of technology. If I can learn it, so can you!

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