What Is the Snipping Tool?
The easiest method of taking screenshots in any version of Windows is by using the ‘PrtScn’ command. Even though it may seem direct, doing so can be a little tedious because you need to paste your screenshots in another app.
Thankfully, Windows 7 introduced the Snipping Tool, which lets you take Free-Form Snips, Rectangular Snips, Window Snips, and Full-Screen Snips very easily. The screenshots taken in this built-in application can be viewed, edited, saved, and emailed.
In Windows 7 and 8, the only way to capture tooltips or pop-up menus was to shift back to the PrtScn command. However, the Windows 10 update of the Snipping Tool added a ‘Time Delay Shutter’ option that allows users to take all of the previous version’s screenshots with a delay of 0-5 seconds.
Microsoft Is Now Moving Away from the Snipping Tool
If your laptop and/or desktop has Windows 10 and was built before October 2018, then its snipping tool will display the following instructions:
The Snip & Sketch tool will already be available on desktops and laptops built in October 2018 and above.
How to Check If You Still Have the Snipping Tool?
To check whether you have the snipping tool, open your Start Menu and navigate over to All Apps and then Windows Accessories. Here you will find the Snipping Tool with the unmistakable Scissor and Red Oval icon. You could also select your Start button and type snipping tool. You will find the Snipping Tool in the search results.
How to Download and Install the Snipping Tool (If Your Current Version of Windows Does Not Have One)
Starting from Windows Server 2008 and Windows 7, all Windows Server and Windows operating systems feature Snipping Tool as a built-in utility for screenshots. This means that the Snipping Tool will be available as a standard component in:
- Windows Vista (Business Edition, Home Premium Edition, Enterprise Edition, and Ultimate Edition)
- Windows 7
- Windows 8 and 8.1
- Windows 10
Since it is a standard component in all of these Windows editions, it can be found in the Windows Accessories or Accessories folder. Many Windows users have had trouble locating the Snipping Tool, and, unfortunately, it cannot be downloaded from the internet. However, you can enable or install it manually.
The Snipping Tool was made available for the Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, which is why Microsoft ported the Tablet PC version to the Desktop version as well. So, if you wish to enable the Snipping Tool in your version of Windows, here what you can do:
- Click on the Start Menu and open the Control Panel
- In your Control Panel, click on the Programs or Programs & Features link
- Click on the link that says ‘Turn Windows Features On or Off’ which is denoted with a shield
- If your User Account Control asks for confirmation, click on the Continue button
- Scroll down along your list of programs in the dialog window and find the Tablet-PC Optional Components option
- Tick the checkbox to show Snipping Tool
- Click OK when you’re done and restart your computer.
Uses of the Snipping Tool
It’s true that there are quite a few screenshot programs available on the internet, but the Snipping Tool program is a hassle-free way of getting the job done. Plus, it comes with whatever version of Windows you may be working on so you can get right to:
- Taking Snippets (cropped screenshots)
- Saving screenshots of online forms as a security blanket
- Copying snippets or annotated screenshots directly to Microsoft Office software (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
- Creating .jpg images for your social media accounts
- Converting pdf files to jpegs
- Adding depth to a presentation with screenshots
Snipping Tool screenshots can be used for a multitude of purposes – just as long as it involves taking screenshots of your computer screen.
How to Use the Snipping Tool
Capturing a Snip
In your Snipping Tool, you can either start snipping by clicking on ‘New’ or by toggling between 4 different types of snips. To choose between the different types of snips, click on the downward-facing arrow next to Mode, and then click one of the 4 options.
Capturing a Free-Form Snip
A free-form snip lets you draw a freehand shape around a window or your desktop to take a screenshot. To begin, right-click and hold (preferably) on the top of the area you would like to select and begin drawing the freehand shape. When you release your mouse, the selected area will be snipped and displayed on the Snipping Tool clipboard.
Capturing a Rectangular Snip
A rectangular snip is the default option and can automatically be used when you click on New. Doing so will let you can take a snippet of anything on your desktop or window in the shape of a rectangle. To begin, right click and hold your mouse and drag it to cover the desired area of the screenshot.
Capturing a Window Snip
Clicking on Window Snip will allow you to capture any open window on your screen. After setting this mode, click on ‘New’ and drag your cursor over to the window you would like to capture. Click on this window, and your screenshot will be copied onto the clipboard.
Capturing a Full-Screen Snip
This particular snip requires just one click. After you have switched to the Full-Screen Snip mode, just click on New, and the screenshot of your entire screen will be copied to the clipboard.
Delay Your Screenshots
This feature comes in handy to capture menu items that would normally disappear with either of the 4 modes listed above. The Delay timer feature, therefore, helps you take a screenshot after you have opened the menu. To try this, click on the arrow next to the Delay tool and select anything from 0 to 5 seconds. Say, if you picked 5 seconds, the countdown would begin, and you need to open the desired menu now. After 5 seconds, the screen will turn gray and take your screenshot.
Annotate Your Snips
After you have captured a screenshot in either of the 4 modes, you can use a highlighter or a pen button to draw within the clipboard. You can also choose between 3 preset colors for your pen or customize your pen’s tip and thickness from the drop-down menu next to the pen. This menu will also have a wider range of colors to choose from. The highlighter’s color cannot be changed, and the eraser removes each annotation one-by-one.
Save Your Snips
Once your snip has been copied onto the application’s clipboard, you can click on the floppy disk icon in the toolbar to save your snips. Doing so will open a window prompting you to choose a destination to save your screenshots.
Where are the Snipping Tool Screenshots Saved?
In Windows 10, every screenshot taken from Snipping Tool (and other 3rd party screenshot applications) gets saved in a Screenshots folder. You can access this by opening your User folder, clicking on Pictures and then clicking on Screenshots You can also manually select where to save your screenshots by clicking on File in the Snipping Tool taskbar and clicking on Save As.
When you save your screenshots as an HTML file, a URL will automatically appear below your snip. To prevent this from happening, click on Options in your Snipping Tool and then uncheck the Include URL below snips checkbox and then click on OK.
Share Your Snips
After you have captured a screenshot, you could either email your screenshot or copy/paste it into another database program or on social media text boxes. To email, click on the envelope icon and choose between Email Recipient or Email Recipient (as an attachment). To copy the image, click on the icon with 2 paper documents.
Rotate, Enlarge, or Crop Your Snips
While your capture is open on the Snipping Tool clipboard, click on Edit in the menu bar and then Edit with Paint 3D. This will allow you to use more enhancements to annotate your screenshot.
Pros and Cons of the Snipping Tool
- Allows you to take screenshots in 4 different styles
- Allows you to draw over screenshots with a wide range of colors
- You could either see the outlines of a selected area or turn it off
- Copy your screen captures directly to the clipboard
- Choose whether you want URL below your snips for HTML purposes
- Save snips automatically before you exit the program
- This tool is only available in Windows
- It is unavailable for desktops and laptops that have an after-October 2018 build
- Does not have any shortcut keys besides Alt+M for choosing your type of snippet in the latest Windows 10 updates
- Most of its features are hidden in settings
- Does not have as many features as most modern 3rd party screenshot applications
Considering the fact that the Snipping Tool is a built-in component of Windows 10, it can suffice for most of your needs for a screenshot. It is very easy to use and can be used to snip any dialog control, picture, graphic, and window with a few clicks. What’s more, your snips can also be easily saved into your desired format including, JPEG, GIF, PNG, or HTML. Of course, Windows realized that it misses out on some other basic features, which is why their newer versions are now moving to Snip & Sketch.
|Ease of Use||★★★★★|