How Do I Take Screenshots on Windows XP?

by Jack Gerard ; Updated February 09, 2017

There are a number of situations in which you may find yourself wanting to take a screen shot in Windows XP. You may need a screen shot to convey error information to a customer service representative when there are problems with your computer, or you may want to save a confirmation Web page but don't want to print it. There are two related but different methods for taking screen shots on a computer using Windows XP, and the one that will be best for you to use depends on whether you want a screen shot of your entire desktop or just the contents of a single window.

How to Take Screenshots on Windows XP

Decide whether you want to capture a screen shot of what is in a particular window, such as a program or browser window, or whether you wish to capture an image of your entire desktop, including the Start button, taskbar and all visible icons.

Locate the "Prt Scrn" or "Print Screen" button on your keyboard; it should be to the right of the function keys.

Press the "Print Screen" key by itself if you wish to take a screen shot of your entire desktop. Should you only want the contents of the window that is currently in focus to be captured, hold down the "Alt" key as you press "Print Screen." Regardless of whether you press "Print Screen" alone or with the "Alt" key, the contents of the screen shot will be stored on the Windows XP clipboard.

Open Microsoft Paint or the image editing software of your choice. Press "Ctrl-V" to paste the contents of the clipboard onto the current canvass in the editing program. You may receive a prompt asking whether you wish to adjust the size of the canvas to fit the image; select "OK" or "Yes."

Save the file with the name of your choice. If you are using editing software that allows the use of layers, make sure you flatten the image before saving to avoid having the image saved as a layer over a blank background.

About the Author

Born in West Virginia, Jack Gerard now lives in Kentucky. A writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience, he has written both articles and poetry for publication in magazines and online. A former nationally ranked sport fencer, Gerard also spent several years as a fencing coach and trainer.