What is a Screenshot and how do I take one?

Every now and then, you’ll be trying to get techsupport from a company’s website, only to be asked by that company’s tech, to provide them with a screenshot so that they can get a better idea of what you are talking about. Even Facebook, where this note appears, makes that request from time to time. However, if you’ve never done one before, chances are you may not even know WHAT they are, let alone how to provide them to the requesting technician.

A Screenshot is a picture of your desktop. There are two ways to do this, with one method far more preferred, with fewer steps and better quality, than the other.

Method #1: Get out your camera phone or SLR camera, aim it at the computer screen, and snap a picture. Depending on the time of day, type of light available, and the angle at which you aim the camera or face the screen, and it could be several shots later before you have one you can use. Once you have a workable photo, you need to download it to your computer, then attach it to an email and send it off.

Method #2: Locate the PrnScr or PrnScrn button on your keyboard. You’ll usually find it not far from your home/end/delete buttons. Pressing this button will take a picture of your screen without you having to worry about angles, lighting, exposure, etc. To use this picture however, you’ll need to open MS Paint or another graphics program, paste the picture into the program and save it to your My Pictures folder, and then attach it to email to send off to the requesting technician. The quality of this photo is much better and far easier for the tech to read than the image created in Method #1. Better yet, if you only want to send part of the screen to the technician, you can crop out what you don’t want in the picture before saving it, so that the image you attach to your email only has in it what you want in it and nothing more. Cropping is possible with Method #1 too, but the quality still won’t be any better.

Whenever remote tech support isn’t possible over the Internet, a screenshot is the next best thing to the tech being there to see what you see. There are times when you may not know how to describe something, and the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words will come in very handy for you.

So the next time you are asked to provide a screenshot, remember method #2.

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