The Print Screen Key... That Doesn't Print?
Shouldn't the PrintScreen Key... print the screen?
One of the most confusing things on a Windows PC is that stupid, Print Screen Key. People ask me about it all the time. It seems to just take up space, so why is it even there?
Ever since the first IBM PC in the early 80s, the keyboard has had a PrintScreen key. Back in those pre-Windows days, whenever you hit the key, the computer printed whatever was on the screen. It was pretty simple, and you didn't need to load any software to do it. It was built-in, so every DOS program could use it.
When you hit the Print Screen key in Windows, it doesn't print the screen, make any sounds, or even give you a message, so a lot of people assume it doesn't do anything at all, but what it actually does is COPY the screen to the CLIPBOARD!
While that doesn't sound very useful, it does give you an indirect way to PRINT the screen. After you hit the key, all you need to do is load a program like PaintBrush, Adobe PhotoShop, or even Microsoft Word, then PASTE it into your document, which gives you the flexibility to either save it as a file, or print it from there.
While it's not as quick and easy as it was in DOS, it does work.
For what its worth, I'm surprised that after all these years, Microsoft still hasn't come up with a better way to use that key. What they really should do is give people 3 choices whenever they hit the button. Print, Save, or Copy to the clipboard.
Joe Crescenzi, Founder
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