Using the Windows 7 Built-In Snipping Tool

It has come to my attention that a great number of people using Windows 7 do not know about its very great snipping and screenshot tool. While it is true that Windows has had a history of horrible to non-existent screen-capturing tools in the past, this one I actually use fairly often. Good work, Windows.

How It Works Great

Probably the greatest aspect of the snipping tool is that it runs on Windows 7 as soon as you install it. You don’t have to download it or pay money; it just works right when you install Windows 7. Although this really shouldn’t be that novel of an idea (you Mac users have probably been using function native software for your operating system decades ago), but for Windows, this is really a nice surprise.

The second greatest thing about the snipping tool is that it actually gives you a variety of snipping options.

As you can see in the snippet above (click to enlarge- although I actually didn’t use the snipping tool for this capture; see more in the section below), the snipping tool gives you four snipping options: Free-form, Rectangular, Window, and Full-screen.

Window Snip

The two that I use the most are by far Rectangular and Window Snip. These are both pretty self explanatory. The Window Snip will capture the entire area of a window as it is currently sized:

Rectangular Snip

The Rectangular Snip will snip the area of a rectangle size of your choosing by clicking and dragging:

As you can see from the above snippet, the Rectangular Snip can include multiple windows and applications in the snippet.

Free-form Snip

You can also use the Free-form Snip setting which allows you to customize the shape of the snippet with your mouse by clicking and dragging. I couldn’t think of much of a practical use for this setting, but I suppose you could use it to snip something clever:

Full-Screen Snip

I have actually found no use at all for the Full-screen Snip as you can make full-screen captures by simply pressing the “prtsc” button on your keyboard. This will save it on your clipboard. Then all you have to do is paste the screenshot in Paint or any other image or media program (it works find in Microsoft Word).

More Features

Among the different capture settings, the snipping tool also allows you to save in a variety of file format and send the snippet through an email (albeit through Outlook…). You can also write on the snippet with a pen tool and highlight it as well, in addition to having the ability to erase any shorthand you add.

How It Doesn’t Work so Great

The one and only problem that I have with the snipping tool is that you have to use the mouse to use it. Now, if it froze the current state of your screen while using the mouse, that would be fine. But since it doesn’t, trying to capture areas of the screen you can only view while clicking on it (like the start menu or any menu, including the menu of the snipping tool above) is impossible. So instead, you have to simply use the “prtsc” function on your keyboard and then crop it yourself in Paint or whichever application you use to crop. Other than this small detail, the snipping tool is great.

This is a guest post by Nadia Jones who blogs at online college about education, college, student, teacher, money saving, movie related topics. You can reach her at nadia.jones5 @

40 thoughts on “Using the Windows 7 Built-In Snipping Tool

  1. I installed Windows 7 one week ago and Snipping tool is one of the first things that I use. It’s totally amazing from me, now I won’t bother to use prtsc and Paint to make a screen capture.

  2. I never expected that Windows 7 has this feature and I am happy when I tried your step-by-step process and I was able to make it. Thanks for your post, your illustrations are very clear to follow.
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  3. Actually you can capture things like your Windows Start Menu, here is how:
    1) Open the Snipping Tool (cancel out the current capture but leave the program open)
    2) Open your Windows Start Menu to whatever you need a snip of
    3) Press Ctrl+Prt Scr

    Voila! the Menu will stay open and you can get your snip

  4. Thanks for sharing this one. i really find this useful and very much of help since i don’t know much about this kind of stuffs. It really pays off to read of your articles.
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  5. Windows snipping tool is an interesting feature of windows 7. I use it repeatedly to take snap of my desktop. Thanks for sharing this,

  6. I love the snipping tool, I use it all the time, especially because it is more convenient to take a screen capture with it instead of using print screen key and paint.

    A very nice little tool that does a huge job.
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  7. I use and know about the snipping tool on windows 7 but I didnt realise that it had different screenshot options, thanks!

    I have been using Jing also for screenshots. It’s great because it automatically uploads the screenshot and then provides an automatic link so that you can share your screenshot with someone over email or IM.
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  8. This is a GREAT little hidden tool in Windows 7! I’ve actually been using this for quite awhile, I still remember discovering it and knowing that I’d never have to do the quick-n-dirty “ctrl+prntscrn” method for getting great screen captures!
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  9. Thank you so much for your tips. Thankfully I happen to view your post, if not, until now I wouldn’t have the idea that Windows 7 are having these features. Great post!

  10. I have XP on my system and do not use Windows 7. My brother recently visited me and his laptop has Windows 7. The one thing that really caught my eye was the snipping tool (tab switching was another feature I liked).

    Seems like the snipping tool is a lot more powerful than I had thought. Will check it out again when I get a chance.
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  11. Great post! You just help me with this tool… I have been using windows 7 and I must say, I am still ignorant of some feature the windows 7 offer.

  12. So I tried it out and it works right away. Like you said this is more handy than print screen given the features that the snipping tool has. Thanks for sharing this. Definitely going to share it on FB! I can now take pics of my car dealer software whenever I want to send certain parts to my finance managers.

  13. Very big help. Whilst trying you snipping toolmethod something must have happened to me keyboard. The PRTSC key was definitely NOT working. Someone suggested I look up Snipping Tool. In reading you artical I was at the same time trying your methods and as an after thought tried the print screen key again. Amazing! Now the PRTSC button works!! What happened to cause that? Now I have several methods to record screen activity (which is VIP to me). Thanks for the kick-start!!

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