Snipping Tool is the MS Paint substitute for screenshots and more

S Paint’s future is uncertain—but that doesn’t mean you’re losing the ability to capture, edit, save, and share screenshots.

That’s because there’s been a better screen-capture solution hiding in Windows for 15 years.

Allow me to introduce you to the Snipping Tool, terrible name, fantastic little piece of software.

Back in 2002, when Microsoft tried to launch a tablet revolution — yes, they did it first — and almost no one cared, the company also created a nice little Windows XP bonus software pack of tablet-friendly utilities, including the Snipping Tool.

Like most good utilities, the Snipping Tool was a small app and, even when Microsoft finally added it to Windows Vista in 2007, it was buried deep within the bowels of the desktop operating system. To use the Snipping Tool, you had to go into Accessories to find it (or maybe activate it if it wasn’t turned on already). So, perhaps, Windows users can be forgiven all these years later for not even knowing the Snipping Tool exists.

And what is the Snipping Tool? As the name suggests, it’s a dead-simple way to capture full screen shots, partial screens, active windows, and even irregularly shaped screens.

In Windows 10, which added a nifty time-delay function to the Snipping Tool, you find the utility by typing “Snip” into your Start Menu’s Cortana box. The Snipping Tool and its scissor and circle icon will be your first result.

The utility app interface is small, with just five menu options, most of which you can ignore. At the far left is the New snip icon, which will trigger a screen grab based on the settings in Mode right next to it.

You can also still use the Ctrl/PrtScrn key combo to capture screens and, if the Snipping Tool is open, they end up there, as well.

In Mode, you can set Snipping Tool to Full-screen Snip, which will capture the whole desktop; Free-form Snip for an irregularly-shaped screen grab; a custom rectangular snip; or a Windows Snip, which will grab whichever window you select.

The addition of a delay feature is useful for Windows and menus that disappear when you’re not hovering over them. To use it, you set the delay for anywhere from 1 to 5 seconds, hit new and then open the thing you want to grab. When the timer goes off, whatever is on screen (based on your settings) is captured.

Whatever you grab, the Snipping Tool window expands to accommodate the screen. After that, you can mark it up with the customizable pen tool, yellow highlighter, or the eraser. You can also copy the screen grab to a clipboard. I often use this to copy and paste an image into a tweet. There’s also save (as a PNG, GIF, JPEG, or single file HTML) and email.

Snipping Tool is old and simple, just like MS Paint, but it’s also a utility Microsoft is unlikely to replace or remove anytime soon. So, when MS Paint finally eats some turpentine and fades away, you can at least rest easy knowing that your screen grab game is covered.

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