How to Take OS X Style Screen Shots in Windows with Greenshot

How to Take OS X Style Screen Shots in Windows with GreenshotOne of the things I never understood about Windows was that Microsoft hasn’t added a feature to make it easier to take a screenshot of a specific area of your screen. Sure, the Print Screen button allows you to add the screen to your clipboard and transfer it to an image editor such as Paint, but this type of invisible hotkey functionality isn’t quite on par with what’s baked in to OS X. Even with Alt+Print Screen allowing you to copy a single window, it still doesn’t save it to the desktop automatically.

After all, in order for these screenshots to take, you need to add them to an editor. The Snipping tool is a great way to abbreviate the experience by taking the screenshot and allowing you to save it to your hard drive from a single program, but that’s still an extra window you have to go through to get things done.

Enter Greenshot, a completely free open source software solution that gives you the ability to take partial screenshots, window captures, and snapshots of your entire screen by just hitting a shortcut key combination. These shortcuts default to the built-in Windows shortcuts for screen captures, making it a quick and easy replacement to the clipboard method of screen capturing.


Greenshot has a number of options to customize the experience including the fun camera sound and flash, mouse cursor location, an interactive window capture mode, capture delay, output options including image format and quality, and even the ability to send captures directly to your printer, image editor, or email client.

Taking regional screenshots gives you a readout of the pixel size of each image as you take it, allowing you to keep the shot at exactly the aspect ratio and/or resolution you need it at without the guesswork or post processing required with other methods.

File Formats

You can have Greenshot output your captures to PNG, JPEG, GIF, and BMP formats. With the JPEG option, you can further customize output by setting a quality percentage using a slider in the preferences menu.

You can also opt to have this quality slider appear with each screen shot, making it easier to fine-tune your captures to meet your file size and quality needs.


Here are some of the shortcuts made available to Greenshot users.

  • Capture Region – Print
  • Capture Last Region – Shift + Print
  • Capture Window – Alt + Print
  • Capture Full Screen – Ctrl + Print

Unlike some screen capture utilities, the captures made by Greenshot are actually extremely clear. You don’t have to worry about fuzzy shots or overcompressed images. What you see is actually what you get.

Final Thoughts

Greenshot lives in your taskbar. You can opt to launch it manually or have it load automatically as Windows starts. It has a very small footprint, taking up just 12 MB of RAM.

Greenshot is one of those small programs that can dramatically improve the way you perform a relatively simple task. Why taking a screenshot in Windows is so difficult, I’ll never understand. Thankfully, projects like these come along that make life a little easier.

What about you? Have you tried Greenshot? Is there another open source utility out there you use to make the Windows experience easier?

17 comments On How to Take OS X Style Screen Shots in Windows with Greenshot

  • >> 
    One of the things I never understood about Windows was that Microsoft hasn’t added a feature to make it easier to take a screenshot of a specific area of your screen

    There is the Snipping Tool (Start->All programs->Snipping Tool), available from Vista and up, which allows you to take partial screen captures. Greenshot looks nice though. 

  • Thanks

      • Well…Ctrl+Shift+1,2,3 (or whatever key combo that you desire) can take a screen region, the window that you are focused on or the entire desktop, or even Ctrl+Shift+U to upload a file (<20MB on the free account) to have it uploaded to puush servers and returns with a short url ( for IM, Twitter etc. Available on Windows, Mac and iOS. Pics don't get deleted after x amount of days. You choose when to delete them from your account. Really worth it just to look at

  • Cool post.  I didn’t even know macs saved screenies to the desktop automatically. I’ve been pasting them into Paint and Photoshop for so long I never even thought of how nice it would be if it just saved the damn thing.

  • Fantastic Tool!!

  • Personally I use this really nice screenshot program “Screensnapr”. It lets me select a region, you can save it OR upload it and it EVEN gives you the option to specify a custom FTP server to upload to! (I’ll be honest this is the first screenshot program I have found that allows you to do that!) (although with the most recent update I haven’t figured out how to successfully do that anymore).

  • I will definately look at this. I have looked at and tested just about every screenshot utility that has come out and most of them work well, some with a unique feature or two to add to their usefulness. I have not found one that really competes with Faststone Capture. I have used it for a long time and if i need something that calls for really complicated features I have SnagIt. I do not use the Faststone image viewer but the capture utility is small and very hard to beat.

  • THIS is what I’ve been looking for. It is quite ironic that one of the most complex screenshot software (SnagIt which I use) does not have a function to save automatically to the desktop. I think I’ll have to run these two programs since I depend on many functions offered by SnagIt but it’s been my desire since forever to have saved-automatically screenshots. Greenshot even has the flash and sound camera. Thank you so much @MattRyanTV:disqus 😀

  • “One of the things I never understood about Windows was that Microsoft hasn’t added a feature to make it easier to take a screenshot of a specific area of your screen.”

    Like some of the others I feel compelled to point out the Snipping Tool. It may be different to what some are used to on Mac, but just because it opens another Window or  doesn’t save direct to drive.

    There’s room for an alternative to the Snipping Tool for sure, something else might fit better into someone’s workflow. But the above statement is just wrong, Microsoft did add a feature to take a screenshot of a specific section the screen, and it is great. 

  • Snipping tools is all that you need, without paint 

  • Still don’t see why this is a better replacement for the Windows Snipping Tool ?!

Leave a reply:

Your email address will not be published.

Site Footer

Ryan Matthew Pierson