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How to Use the Windows Vista Snipping Tool

( see also: Print Screen Key page )

This tutorial covers the Snipping Tool that comes with Vista Home Premium, Business,
Enterprise, or Ultimate Editions. It is not available in Windows Vista Home Basic Edition.

The Snipping Tool enables more sophisticated screen shot/captures than the print screen key.

  1. Click on the Start Menu > All Programs > Accessories (folder) > Snipping Tool or Click on the Start Menu and start typing "snipping" into the search box. Snipping Tool should appear in the Programs list above the search box, click on it to start it.
  2. The Snipping Tool window will appear on your screen as below. You may move it to any area of the screen so it's not in your way, but it will also disappear when you start dragging a selection area.

Snipping Tool



  1. The Snipping Tool assumes you want to create a new snip as soon as you open it. When you click the "New" button your screen will dim, and you can click and drag your cursor to select an area to copy. As you drag, the selected area will be darker, and surrounded by a red border if you've never changed the Snipping Tool options.
  2. When you release the mouse button, the captured area will open in the Snipping Tool window. If you're not happy with the selection and need to try again, click the "New" button.
  3. When you are happy with your snip, click the "Save" button to save the screen shot as an image file. See below for file format suggestions.

Snipping Tool

Desktop Icons captured with the Snipping Tool using the "Rectangular Snip"

  1. If your screen shot contains a limited number of colors and you want to retain crisp lines and keep the file size small, save as a GIF file. If your screen shot contains many colors and you want to retain crisp lines and full quality, save as a PNG file. If your screen shot contains many colors and you want to make the file size small, save as a JPEG file.
  2. Before saving your screen shot, you can use the Pen and Highlighter tools in the Snipping Tool toolbar to add markup to your capture. The eraser tool will remove marks made with the Pen and Highlighter Tools.
  3. You may email a screen shot without saving it by using the "Send To" button on the Snipping Tool toolbar.
  4. Go to Tools > Options to change the way the Snipping Tool operates. For instance, you can change the color of the selection outline by selecting a new ink color, or turn the outline off entirely by unchecking the box for "Show selection ink after snips are captured."
  5. Enable the option "Display icon in the Quick Launch toolbar" if you want to keep the Snipping Tool handy for quick access. You could also right click its startup icon - select "Send To" then "Desktop" to create a shortcut on your desktop for easy access.



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