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 @