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Best Ways to Screenshot on a Chromebook
February 8, 2022
Reading time: 6 minutes
The Chromebook’s popularity has exploded over the past few years, with new models available for students and professionals. These laptops are packed with numerous benefits, including an easy, streamlined way to create screenshots. Whether you use yours for homework or to handle important business projects while working remotely, the screenshot can be a useful tool for communicating with teammates.
Here are some of the different ways you can use your Chromebook to easily capture a screenshot and some useful reasons to use screenshots every day.
What is a screenshot?
A screenshot is an exact image of your screen at a given moment. Think of it like a photo of your screen. You can then save the screenshot as an image file.
Screenshots are common on all types of devices with screens, including smartphones, laptops, and desktops. However, there are some differences when taking a screenshot with your Chromebook.
How is a screenshot different on a Chromebook?
The Chromebook keyboard is unique and doesn’t include certain keys found on a full-sized laptop. You won’t see the F1 or F2 keys, for example.
Instead, Chromebooks include a Show Windows button that resembles a box with two up-and-down lines on its right. You can find this key in the middle of the top row on your Chromebook keyboard. You will use this button quite a bit, including to take screenshots using the tips in this guide.
Types of screenshots
Screenshots are easy to take, but you may not want to capture all of your Chromebook’s screen. The good news is that you have options:
The full screenshot: captures everything on your screen.
A partial screenshot: only captures the part of the screen you choose.
A window screenshot: only captures your current program or app window.
You can also take a video of your screen – known as screen recordings – which is a great way to use the screen capture tool.
How to screenshot on a Chromebook
Not everyone uses their Chromebook keyboard in the same way, which is why Google created a few different methods to quickly snap a screenshot. Use the one below that best suits your workflow.
1. Keyboard shortcut
Click Ctrl+Show Windows to instantly snap a full screen pic. This won’t work to get a partial screenshot or window screenshot, but it’s the fastest way to grab a screenshot on a Chromebook.
You can use another hotkey shortcut to access the Screen Capture toolbar for any of the other screenshot types. Just press Shift+Ctrl+Show Windows to view the Screen Capture toolbar at the bottom of the screen.
2. Quick Settings panel
The Quick Settings panel is another way to access screenshot tools. This is useful if you forget the hotkeys combination or if it’s difficult for you to hold down three keys at once. To access Quick Settings, look for the shortcut button on Chrome's Shelf – it’s located on the clock.
Within the settings, you'll see the menu pop up where you can look for the Screen Capture button to launch the toolbar. From there, you can take the type of screenshot you want, whether it’s a partial screen, full screenshot, or recording.
3. Screen Capture toolbar
When you access the Screen Capture toolbar, you’ll see many options to create a full screenshot, a partial screenshot, or a video recording. If you want to record active movement on your screen, simply toggle the button from stills to video on the toolbar.
You can even add sound to your clip! The settings icon – it resembles a gear – allows you to choose between a muted mic or a live mic. With a live mic, you can narrate over your video, which is useful for recording directions or providing commentary.
4. External, third-party apps
You can also capture screenshots without using Chromebook’s proprietary tools. Several reputable third-party programs exist for this, including some that let you create .GIFs or edit your captures.
SnagIt from TechSmith is one good example. It's not free, but it has a variety of add-ons to make your screenshot experience just the way you want. It’s easy to share and edit, too. Just be sure any software you purchase to create screenshots is compatible with the latest Chrome OS before you buy it.
Where to find your screenshots
You just took the perfect screenshot, but do you know where to find it? The Chrome Clipboard stores the last 5 things you saved to it, including screenshots, and you can view these items by pressing the Search Key+V.
If you took the screenshot prior to those actions, you can find all of your screenshots (including older ones) in the Tote folder on the Shelf. If you don’t see your screenshot here, look for it in the Files app, under the Images folder for stills and the Videos folder for video captures.
How to edit your screenshots and videos
Once you take a Chromebook screenshot, you may want to edit it to make it just right. Here’s more on how to do that.
Chrome OS editing tools
You can make basic adjustments with the existing Chrome OS editing tools, including cropping, rotating, and resizing. It also includes a few filters to change the color and tone, and annotation.
If you want to make a lot of edits, consider using a third-party tool like Canva or PicMonkey. Both programs have free trials and tutorials, so you can familiarize yourself with the available tools before actually editing your screenshots.
Canva and PicMoney are web-based, which means you need to upload your photo files to the sites for editing. The good thing here is that the programs won’t take up space on your Chromebook’s internal hard drive. Plus, you can use Canva or PicMoney on any compatible devices for follow-up edits or redownloads.
What about video captures?
You can tweak your captures a bit, but a Chromebook is not a high-powered video editing tool. As a result, you have limited options for adjusting your video files. You do have some basic options available, such as changing the video’s length. However, it’s best to use a third-party app to perform any intensive edits.
How to manage your screenshots
Screenshots are an important part of digital life. They’re a simple way to share a creative recipe you found, a hilarious meme, or a troubling social media comment you want to report for harassment. Whatever you use screenshots for, you may get overwhelmed by these files if you snap several per day and never organize or delete them.
Screenshots take up space, especially on your Chromebook’s smaller internal storage. You can always back up your screenshots to your Google Photos account, which is the best way to save them for later. Otherwise, review and delete your captures regularly if you don’t think you’ll need them again to avoid screenshot clutter.
A final word on how to take a screenshot on a Chromebook
When you’re communicating with friends or coworkers, a screenshot may be the perfect way to share your message. Use it to document important financial events, create picture tutorials to help a loved one, or save important moments in your online life. There are truly unlimited ways to use screenshots. And Chromebooks make it incredibly easy to capture, edit, and share them.
Double-check your screenshot before you share
Remember that a complete screenshot shows everything on your screen, including potentially private and personal details you may not want to share. Double-check anytime you capture your screen to avoid sharing personal details you don’t want others to see. This includes everything from website titles in browser tabs, to major items like your bank statements or medical history.
Just be sure to crop out any sensitive information you don’t want others to see, and be wary of using your work computer to capture personal screenshots or vice-versa. Screenshots are very useful, but it’s too easy to create and share a screen shot that compromises you or your employer.
About the Author: Linsey Knerl is a contributing writer for HP Tech Takes. Linsey is a Midwest-based author, public speaker, and member of the ASJA. She has a passion for helping consumers and small business owners do more with their resources via the latest tech solutions.
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