A screenshot is an image taken by a user to record the visible elements displayed on a computer screen, or a monitor. Taking screenshots is made possible by the use of the operating system such as Windows or a Mac or with the help of specialized screenshot software that is running on the computer. It is estimated that the very first screenshot was created with the advent of interactive computers, which was around 1960. Eventually over time, through the 80's when computer research and development was at its peak, operating systems evolved over time.
Interestingly, the first couple of versions of various operating systems did not have the built-in functionality to capture screenshots. The next best alternative was to take a screenshot of the "text-only" screens which could be sent to a text file. This was limited because only the content of the screen was captured and not the design.
In the days of BASIC programming language, some computer systems has the "BSAVE" command that was used to capture the area of memory where the screen data was stored, but again this limited to the BASIC prompt alone.
There were also screenshot kits in the early days. These were available for the standard film cameras which included an antireflective hood that was attached between the screen and the camera lens. Polaroid film was also another popular way to capture images due to the instant results and the capability to closely focus on Polaroid cameras.
Screenshots have become an essential element in everyday life. Screen capture software are useful to demonstrate a program or to address a particular problem a user might be having, or simply when the resulting output is required for further investigation into the issue. Screenshots have also evolved over time to take pictures of a website, which pose its own set of problems.
The most important limitation for capturing websites was the length of the website itself. Standard screenshot software failed to offer the functionality to capture the screen while the being scrolled.
However, the latest advances with screenshot software such as Greenshot, which is an open source screen capture software or Screenpresso, which is a commercial alternative to Greenshot allows the users to take pictures of the website while scrolling, thus making it easier to take screenshots of the website, which was up until a point considered to be quite complex.
Screenshots are now a part and parcel of just about any operating system. From the trusty old Windows 10 to the latest versions of Mac, almost all big and popular operating systems come with an in-built screenshot or screen capture functionality.
Of course, while this basic functionality is limited, it can also be enhanced by using custom screenshot software.
How to take a screenshot on Windows OS?
Taking a screenshot on the Windows computer hasn't changed much since its early days. On a computer running the Windows OS, simply press "PrtScr" button. This will take a screenshot of the entire desktop.
An alternative way to capture the screenshot is to make use of Alt + PrtScr. In this keyboard combination you can capture only the active window and its contents. Captured screenshots generally do not include the mouse pointer and another functionality of using the inbuilt screenshot option is that Windows automatically places the picture on the clipboard and not as a file.
After you take a screenshot, you are required to either open a picture editing software such as MS Paint which ships as a free software on Windows. You can also open your trusty MS Word and simply use the paste option.
Besides the above way to capture screenshot using Windows 10, you can also use the Windows Snipping tool which has been gaining popularity. Although in order to capture the screen using the Windows Snipping Tool, you will need to first define the area of the screenshot by dragging your mouse cursor in order to define the area. Once this is done, you can then make use of annotations and other options to edit your screenshots.
Copyright issues with Screenshots
Although screenshots are rather easy and no brainer; they do pose the question of copyright and infringement. For example, if you have some custom software running and you like to take a screenshot of the software along with other elements on your desktop you will need to be sure that the software developers give you permission to take a screenshot of their software. Regardless of the issues on copyrights, screenshots are still legally used under the principle of fair-use in the U.S.