How To Crop a Print Screen Image

Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Mac OS X all have tools that let you easily take snapshots of a portion of your screen. Called the Snipping Tool on Windows and Snapshot on the Mac, you can simply select an area on screen to save as a PNG or JPG image. On older versions of Windows, though, you don't have an easy snapshot image. However, you can still capture a screenshot of your desktop using Print Screen.

Pressing the PrtScr button will copy a snapshot of your current desktop into the clipboard-this will include all open Windows and all in its periphery. It's like taking a picture of your screen. You might not need everything from this snapshot, though, so you will have to crop the image.

What you need:

  • Photo editing software
  • Word processor (minimum requirement)

Capturing the image

To capture an image into your clipboard, you have the following options:

  • Print Screen - This will capture your entire desktop, including the open windows, Taskbar, and everything visible on the screen. Pressing PrtScr is like taking a photograph of your screen.
  • Alt Print Screen - Pressing Alt-PrtScr will capture the contents of the current window only. This is particularly useful if you need to take an image and you want to limit the information to the current window only.

Cropping the image

To crop the image you've just taken, you will first need to paste and save it somewhere. Pressing PrtScr will copy the image into your clipboard. If you are satisfied with just sending the entire screenshot or the entire window shot, then you can actually paste the image into your email client or word processor by pressing Ctrl-V, or by clicking Edit, then Paste.

You can actually crop the image using the basic image editing tools found in Microsoft Word. You will have to save or send the file as a .DOC, though, and not a standard JPEG, PNG or GIF image.

If you need to save the image as a standalone JPEG, you will need to use your photo editing software's cropping tool.

  • Open your photo editing software.
  • Create a new image. Most image editing software will automatically detect if there are images in the clipboard and will resize the new image accordingly. To be safe, set the new image size similar to your desktop (usually 1280x768 in widescreen setups).
  • Press Ctrl-V or click Edit/Paste to insert the image into the new image file.
  • Click the cropping tool and move the corners of the selector to enclose only the part of the image that you want to save.
  • Make other adjustments as necessary (such as image quality and compression).
  • Save your image. Screenshots usually follow the color depth of your current computer settings (either "Millions" or "Thousands" of colors). Saving the image as a JPG will usually suffice. If you need to save it as a PNG or GIF image, the software might have to reduce the color depth to 256 colors for compatibility.


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