How do I hit the Win+PrintScreen hotkey if my tablet doesn’t have a PrtSc key?

Windows 8 added a new hotkey: Win+PrtSc takes a snapshot of your screen and puts it into the Screenshots folder of your Pictures library. But what if you are on a tablet with no PrtSc key?

On tablets, you can perform the same operation by pressing Windows button + Volume down. Both of these are the hardware buttons on the tablet, not on any keyboard.

Comments (30)
  1. Brian_EE says:

    I must have missed the comment "And next week's little program will show how to extend this functionality to Win-7"…

  2. Yuri says:

    Good to know, is it new to Windows 8.1?

    Useful on the Surface because the keyboards have no PrtSc key.

  3. Windows Phone 8 says:

    Incidentally, on Windows Phone 8 the key combination is <kbd>Win</kbd>+<kbd>Power</kbd>.

  4. Nick says:

    @Yuri: No, it was in Windows 8.

  5. Daniel says:

    Wow… Honestly I don't know if I should be shocked about the abuse of completely unrelated buttons or be amazed by the lack of common sense of some people. (Kind of: "Oh let's make this completely intuitive")

    While screen capturing isn't bad per se, I wonder how long it takes until this bullet reaches our feet… (Let's talk about hardware implementation of these buttons in other tablets)

    No wonder why nobody knows about such features and many people argues that Windows is complicated to use)

  6. bdcrazy says:

    @Daniel: For the iPhone, you press and hold both the power button and the home button to take a screen shot.  How is that any more intuitive?

  7. Bill says:

    @Daniel: Mobile devices have been doing this for years. To take a screenshot on my Samsung Galaxy SII: Hold the Power and Volume Down buttons. Microsoft is just following the established convention.

  8. Sean says:

    @Daniel with mobile devices multipurposing hardware buttons is inevitable. iOS and Android both have similar combos; iOS being the home and sleep buttons, and with Android it varies a bit but it's often the power/sleep plus one of the volume buttons. It's not the best solution, the combos usually need a specific timing to get just right (e.g. Android's will sometimes result in a screenshot after the volume bar has popped up). I think it's still better than adding a dedicated hardware button, and doing something in software would be difficult to get right. Any UI updates required to access the functionality could defeat the purpose (not enabling you to get a picture of exactly what's on the screen at that moment).

    You're right, it's not intuitive, but with all the major mobile OSes taking the same basic approach at least it's semi-transferable knowledge. A quick Google search will turn up the combo for any particular phone or tablet, so it's not too difficult to learn.

  9. ErikF says:

    @Daniel: It's not immediately obvious, no; however, which combination of buttons would you recommend? I don't exactly see a lot of options to choose from! (Also, how many times in a day would one need to take screenshots on a tablet? I can't think of too many reasons.)

  10. Miff says:

    To take a screenshot in Cyanogenmod, you hold the power button to bring up a system menu, and "screenshot" is one of the options in the menu.

  11. nt 6.2 says:

    @Miff: Yes, but Windows8 doesn't have any system/start menu, that's why Win+PrntScrn had to be chosen instead.

    [Um, you get the Start menu when you hit the Windows key. The problem is that calling up any UI to take a screen shot screws up the screen shot. -Raymond]
  12. Engywuck says:

    one way that always works: take a camera and take a photo of the screen. :-)

    It even defeats DRM… and is always the same "combination" for every possible OS and hardware.

  13. Danny says:

    @Engywuck Unless you want to prove to a forum "yes dude, here is my highscore with a screenshot" in which the "dude" can verify the watermark of the screenshot and see it's a genuine screenshot not a photoshoped one. So for this purpose your way is useless.

  14. smf says:

    @Danny taking a screenshot with a camera and taking one with Win+PrntScrn are equally unverifiable.

  15. Boris says:

    Enguwuck: you mean like a separate, digital or analog camera? Why would the average non-photographer have something like that lying around?

  16. Engywuck says:

    Boris: since even cheap cell phones have cameras most people would have one with them nearly everywhere they go. And if you want to "screenshot" the smartphone itself just ask the next person to use theirs.

  17. ulric says:

    wow… why was this important to map to a hardware key… I guess all PMs want their features to have a button.

  18. Wilczek says:

    Is there a workaround for the missing Pause key as well? How can I press Win+Pause or Ctrl+Pause on a keyboard that lacks this important key? There is an unfortunate trend that more and more keys are missing on notebook keyboards. For example on the keyboard I'm typing now there are no pause and no context menu keys. In case of the missing context menu key I can use shift+F10 (quite uncomfortable compared to using the dedicated key), but I haven't found any simple workaround for the missing pause key.

  19. dave says:

    Since devices with few buttons often need to overload those buttons in mysterious ways their wonders to perform, the design error would seem to be in giving overly-specific names (like 'volume down') to buttons that have generic use.

  20. @ulric says:

    Why it is important (or rather mandatory) has been answered in the comments posted prior to yours. Like this one: "The problem is that calling up any UI to take a screen shot screws up the screen shot. -Raymond"

  21. Brian_EE says:

    @Danny, @Boris… Enguwuck was obviously alluding to one of Raymond's past articles:…/hh241037.aspx or…/10422964.aspx

  22. Programmerman says:

    Windows 8.1 also adds the ability to take a screenshot from the "Share" charm, except that it won't save the screenshot to a file in the UserPicturesScreenshots folder. Have your app (or the desktop) active, bring out the Charms, hit Share. There will be a drop-down right under Share where you can select Screenshot. It will only take a screenshot of the active app (or the whole desktop), not the entire system's display(s).

  23. Boris says:

    A cellphone photo isn't as easy to get right (with ANY photo, I always need to make sure it wasn't out of focus), while a screenshot is always perfect. Also, I've usually needed them in order to reliably save information for offline browsing, when I'm on a trip to another country, with only a roaming plan and no free wifi handy. And, in such cases, I usually take only my smartphone with me, since it's much less hassle than a tablet (which needs to be mentioned at the x-ray gates). That also means I want the screenshot right in my photo folder, not on another device.

    All that far outweighs the effort needed to remember the key combination, or look it up the first couple of times.

  24. Nawak says:

    Samsung opted for a "gesture" on their Galaxy S3: you swipe the side of your hand laterally across the screen to take a screenshot.

    I think it's a good idea since I remember that one whereas I usually do not remember rarely-used key shortcuts.

  25. Joshua says:

    [Um, you get the Start menu when you hit the Windows key. The problem is that calling up any UI to take a screen shot screws up the screen shot. -Raymond]

    Try KSnapshot. It hides its own window.

    [But the act of calling up KSnapshot causes any open menus to be closed, for example. You have to use the hotkey or timer to capture menus and other ephemera. -Raymond]
  26. xpclient says:

    Half baked job as usual as there is no Win+Alt+Printscreen to snapshot the current window to a file.

  27. Engywuck says:

    I had a customer complain that menus stay open when you move the mouse out of an RDP window. One day earlier I had used exactly that functionality to make snapshots of selected parts of menus with the snipping tool – because menus don't stay open when starting a program locally (and me hating to "PrtScr", then insert the clipboard somewhere, crop *then*, … — and afterwards move to the same menu you just lost for documenting the next step).

    Brian_EE: wish I could claim that, but the gist of my idea was the same: the analog hole exists as long as the one who can open it has to use his or her eyes to watch/read a file. And me using it to document installed programs on an old PC (win95, don't ask) with no network access and no (usable) floppy drive. Sure as admin there are other ways, but this was the simplest one, especially without reboot.

  28. nt 6.2 says:

    @Raymond: Are you playing with words? Windows 8 got no start menu, it has a metro gui. The metro gui is not a start menu, it's a tile gui.

    [It is a full-screen Start menu, or at least that's what it's intended to be. -Raymond]
  29. NoP says:

    @Raymond: well, for all intents and purposes, it didn't work. See…/hp-brings-back-windows-7-by-popular-demand.

  30. Maciejas says:

    The real problem is, how to do that on keyboards with no Win key? :)

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