Why the hell did no-one tell me I could actually make the Prt Sc button useful?

Prt Sc button on a keyboard
(Image credit: Future)

Right up there with the Turbo button on '90s PCs, the Prt Sc button on your keyboard is almost as useless. Microsoft is about to change that, however, with the Turbo button making a stunning comeback! I'm joking, of course, it's set to actually make the Prt Sc key worthwhile (opens in new tab) by making it launch the operating system's screen capturing Snipping mode.

In the latest test version of Windows 11, available via the Beta channel of the Windows Insider program, the fix is in. That means, by default, the Prt Sc key will now open the snipping tool on a single keypress, giving you access to Snipping mode, whether that's the standard rectangular select, freeform, window, or full-screen modes.

Previously, hitting the Prt Sc key would simply save the entire desktop to your clipboard, but if you wanted to actually save it as a screenshot you'd have to open up a separate app and paste the image into it. What a waste of time.

And yes, I know I can smash out a combo with Win + Prt Sc and save a full desktop capture to my machine, but that doesn't work for me, either. I dual-screen, so capturing the entire desktop is rarely of any benefit.

With this new change to the default Windows setup, however, the barely used, oft-ignored key will have a new lease of life, saving you literally minutes of your life otherwise spent contorting your digits to hit the Shift + Win + S key combo and launch the capture dialog. 

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(Image credit: Colorwave)

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This then gives it both the functionality of saving a screenshot to the clipboard and to your screenshots folder at the same time. Though, in fairness, you don't actually need to be an Insider to have this wondrous new feature today.

All you need to do is go into the Settings > Accessibility > Keyboard screen and select 'Use the Print screen button to open screen snipping.' It's literally that easy to change your life. I wish I'd known that sooner.

In fact, I wish I'd known that before I surrounded myself solely with 65 - 75% keyboards that have all sacrificed the Prt Sc key for space.

Compact gaming Keyboards

(Image credit: Future)

In a way, it's a bit of a shame that the change is purely for the Snipping mode function rather than the full Snipping Tool. What's the difference? Well, the actual Snipping Tool app now allows you to capture video as well as static images, letting you even capture specific regions of the desktop as video. 

One step at a time though, eh?

Dave James

Dave has been gaming since the days of Zaxxon and Lady Bug on the Colecovision, and code books for the Commodore Vic 20 (Death Race 2000!). He built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 16, and finally finished bug-fixing the Cyrix-based system around a year later. When he dropped it out of the window. He first started writing for Official PlayStation Magazine and Xbox World many decades ago, then moved onto PC Format full-time, then PC Gamer, TechRadar, and T3 among others. Now he's back, writing about the nightmarish graphics card market, CPUs with more cores than sense, gaming laptops hotter than the sun, and SSDs more capacious than a Cybertruck.