There are many tools out there for taking screenshots in Windows. However, it’s not necessary to install a third party application for this purpose. The Snipping Tool, included in Windows Vista and later, allows you to take various types of screenshots and edit and annotate them.

We briefly covered the Snipping Tool in our article about taking screenshots on almost any device, but we’ll go into more detail here, showing you how to take screenshots, save, edit, annotate, and email screenshots, and change the settings in the Snipping Tool.

To access the Snipping Tool, open the Start screen, if it’s not already active, by clicking the Start screen button on the left side of the Taskbar.

How to Use the Snipping Tool in Windows to Take Screenshots

Click the down arrow button in the lower-left corner of the Start screen to access the “Apps” screen.

How to Use the Snipping Tool in Windows to Take Screenshots

On the “Apps” screen, scroll to find the “Snipping Tool” in the “Windows Accessories” section and click on it.

How to Use the Snipping Tool in Windows to Take Screenshots

NOTE: You can also open the “Snipping Tool” by starting to type “snipping tool” on the Start screen to activate the “Search” box. When the “Snipping Tool” displays in the results, click on it to open it.

How to Use the Snipping Tool in Windows to Take Screenshots

You are returned to the Desktop and the small “Snipping Tool” dialog box displays. To change settings for the Snipping Tool, click “Options” on the dialog box.

How to Use the Snipping Tool in Windows to Take Screenshots

The “Snipping Tool Options” dialog box allows you to specify how the application behaves and looks.

The “Application” section allows you to change the following settings, regarding the use of the Snipping Tool. Select or de-select the check boxes to turn on and off the options.

“Hide Instruction Text” – Hides the text you see below the buttons on the “Snipping Tool” dialog box.
“Always copy snips to the Clipboard” – Copies all screenshots to the Windows clipboard, allowing you to paste them into other applications such as word processors or other image editors.

“Include URL below snips (HTML only)” – Saves your screenshots as Single File HTML or MHT documents. When you take a screenshot in an Internet Explorer window, the URL of the webpage is included in the screenshot.

“Prompt to save snips before exiting” – When you close the Snipping Tool, this option causes the program to inform you of any screenshots you have not saved, allowing you to save them before closing the program.
“Show screen overlay when Snipping Tool is active” – By default, while you are taking a screenshot with the Snipping Tool, a white overlay displays. If you don’t want this overlay, de-select this option.
The “Selection” section allows you to change the following settings regarding the color palette in the Snipping Tool:

“Ink Color” – Changes the color of the selection border that displays when you create a snip. Select a color from the drop-down list.
“Show selection ink after snips are captured” – When this check box is selected, the selection border is shown around the snip after it’s taken, using the color selected in the “Ink Color” drop-down list.
Click “OK” once you have set the options to your liking.

How to Use the Snipping Tool in Windows to Take Screenshots

To take a screenshot of a rectangular area of the screen, click the down arrow on the “New” button on the “Snipping Tool” dialog box and select “Rectangular Snip” from the drop-down menu.

NOTE: The black dot on an option indicates that is the default choice if you were to click the button instead of accessing the drop-down list.
The cursor turns into a crosshair, allowing you to draw a rectangle around the area of the screen you want to capture. The border displays in the color selected on the “Snipping Tool Options” dialog box, as we discussed earlier.
You can also take a screenshot of a specific window on the desktop. To do so, select “Window Snip” from the “New” drop-down menu.

Once you’ve captured your screenshot, it opens in the “Snipping Tool” editing window.  The Snipping Tool editor allows you to edit and annotate the screenshot. You can draw on the image using the “Pen” tool in different colors. To change the color of the Pen, click the down arrow on the “Pen” button and select a color. Use your mouse to draw on the image.

Select a color for the pen from the “Color” drop-down list (there are more colors available here), specify “Fine point pen,” “Medium point pen,” or “Thick point pen” using the “Thickness” drop-down list, and select either a “Chisel tip pen” or a “Round tip pen” from the “Tip” drop-down list. Click “OK” once you’ve made your selections.