Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Print Screen Command for Writers

A trick that has been valuable to me as a writer has been the PRINT SCREEN command. Many users aren’t aware this key is on their computer, but usually it is located at the top right of the keypad and has the letters PrtSc on the button. This button does only one job; it takes a picture of your computer screen. It functions like the COPY command, except it copies only the computer screen.

Of course, you have to use the PASTE command to see the new photo. Most often I use this command when I am researching the Internet and the Web site will not allow me to use the normal COPY and PASTE command.

At the Web site, I first press the PRINT SCREEN which takes a photograph of everything on my computer screen. Next I open a blank page in Microsoft Word, then I hold down CONTROL and press V to paste the photo--or I navigate to the EDIT menu and choose PASTE.

The new image should now appear as a photo on your Word document, which will allow you to resize. I have also discovered this tool is valuable when viewing a movie and I need a snapshot of a character, etc.

Once, I even used PRINT SCREEN to copy error messages that kept popping up on my computer screen (the phone tech didn't want to believe me). I then e-mailed the photo to the support site I was working with.

Need the names of cast of a movie as they fly by on the screen? Take a snapshot with PRINT SCREEN and paste it in Word.

Other uses for PRINT SCREEN;
When I’m in Windows Explorer (some of us call it "My Computer") and I need a copy of the names of my files, PRINT SCREEN is quick and easy.

PRINT SCREEN also works great to make a quick copy of the tracks on a music CD or playlist to insert in your CD album cover. No typing involved.

Sometimes I have a large file of photos I need to edit and PRINT SCREEN is an easy way to print a checklist so I can cross off the ones I’ve edited.

You get the idea.


  1. Kenny, you've opened a new world of opportunities with just one button. Suddenly I can picture a quick way of capturing the verification step of my online banking transactions without actually printing them out as Chase Bank recommends. Thanks!

  2. Hmmmm, I don't see that on my computer. Is it because I have a Mac?

  3. Thanks! You don't know how often I get frustrated because I can't copy or print research info from a web page. I'll try this next time.

  4. Steph:
    Apparently, for a Mac, the print screen command is
    Control Shift 3

    Instead of one key, you use a combo of three keys at the same time.

  5. Sorry Kenny, but as a long time Mac user, I said "ouch." :)
    As for the print command on a Mac, if you using Safari, you can just PRINT from the Safari Toolbar (add it there if you don't already from customize toolbar), then just choose PDF from the window that pops up, then SAVE AS PDF. Then, you have an exact copy in PDF form of what you were looking at (and what would have printed out).
    Oh, and Kenny, I did see you with with an iPhone, right?? :)