How to Take a Screenshot Using a Microsoft Surface

Whether you want to capture friends and relatives making funny faces on Skype or need accessible photos of online resources or programs, screenshots benefit users in many ways. With a simple press of a keyboard’s Print Screen key, you essentially have the ability to capture anything and everything occurring on your desktop at any time.

But what if you want to take a screenshot on a tablet? Most feature methods for capturing an image via a button combination or tool. For Microsoft Surface users, there are a number of separate methods for capturing screenshots of your tablet’s display.

Whether you’re utilizing a Touch or Type Cover, use the tablet by itself, or rely on a Surface Pen, our comprehensive walk-through will have you taking screenshots on your Surface in no time.

Further reading

Method 1: Use keyboard shortcuts

Surface 3 Win Button
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From the original Surface through the Surface Pro 3, Microsoft decided not to include a Print Screen key on either its official Touch or Type Cover accessories. That makes taking screenshots less straightforward than on a computer. Instead of using a designated key, owners need to perform a simple button combination to execute the command.

Surface 3 Buttons
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To take a screenshot, perform the following:

Step 1: Press and hold the Windows icon button located on the tablet’s screen.

Step 2: With the Windows button pressed, simultaneously push the Lower Volume rocker (minus) located on the side, as shown above.

At this point, the screen should dim, then brighten again, as if taking a snapshot with a camera. Once the screenshot is captured, use these steps to find it:

Step 1: Open File Explorer. It’s the Folder icon located on the taskbar.

Step 2: Click Pictures listed on the left.

Step 3: Double-click the Screenshots folder to access the images.

Note that a compatible third-party keyboard cover may include the Print Screen key. This allows users to capture a screenshot with just one press. Otherwise, use the two-button instructions provided above.

Because the Surface Pro 4 and newer don’t have a Windows button, the process is a little different. On those machines, do the following:

Step 1: Hold down the Power button.

Step 2: Press the Volume Up button.

Again, the screen will flicker, and the screenshot saves to the same location.

Method 2: Use a Type or Touch Cover

Surface Pro 3 Type Cover

Although the Type and Touch Covers prior to the Surface Pro 4 don’t feature a Print Screen key, they do have the ability to capture screenshots using a keyboard shortcut. With any keyboard cover attached, type the following: Fn + Windows + Spacebar

The screen will dim, then brighten again, signifying a successful screenshot.

Surface Pro 7 Type Cover

On the Surface Pro 4 and newer, there’s no Windows button, but the Type Covers do include a Print Screen feature. It’s located on the F8 key, meaning the Function key needs to be disabled first. Press it, and the tiny LED turns off, signifying that the Function keys are disabled.

  • PrtScrn: Saves to the clipboard only unless OneDrive stashes screenshots in the cloud.
  • Windows + PrtScrn: Saves to the local Screenshots folder.

Method 3: Use built-in tools

For greater control over captured screens, there are two Windows-based tools worth considering: The Snipping Tool and the Snip & Sketch app. They’re somewhat similar in function, although the Snipping Tool is primarily offered in Windows 8.1, while Windows 10 will eventually replace it with the Snip & Sketch App in a feature update.

Snipping Tool

To locate and use the Snipping Tool, type “snipping tool” in the taskbar’s search field. Once it appears in the search results, either left-click on the Icon to open the application or right-click the Icon to pin it to the Start Menu or taskbar.

how to take a screenshot on a Microsoft Surface
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The Snipping Tool provides a few options once it’s open: New, Mode, Delay, Cancel, or Options.

how to take a screenshot on a Microsoft Surface
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

First, select one of four modes:

  • Freeform: Use your mouse, finger, or pen to capture a custom area.
  • Rectangular: Capture a precise, manually-selected rectangular area.
  • Window: Capture a specific window, like a browser.
  • Fullscreen: Capture the entire screen.

Next, click New, and respond accordingly. For example, if you choose Rectangular, the cursor turns into a set of crosshairs that can then be used to create a capture field encompassing a specific portion of the display. Simply drag the resulting cursor over the target area before releasing it to capture the screenshot.

Afterward, save the screenshot in any location as a JPEG, PNG, or GIF file. Annotate the clip using a Surface Pen, if available.

Snip & Sketch

Snip & Sketch Windows 10

While the Snipping Tool is still available to use, Microsoft warns that it’s retiring the tool in a future update. In its place is the current Snip & Sketch app, which is located on the Start Menu. However, use the following shortcut to quickly grab an image: Windows + Shift + S

The screen dims, other than a small toolbar that appears at the top of the screen. Again, there are four options: Rectangular, Freeform, Windows, and Fullscreen (same as the Snipping Tool). The captured image automatically goes to the clipboard.

Alternatively, open the Snip & Sketch app, click the Down Arrow next to New in the top-left corner, and select one of three options on the drop-down menu: Snip Now, Snip in 3 Seconds, and Snip in 10 Seconds. The screen will dim, and the toolbar appears with the same four options. This time, however, the screenshot appears within the app.

Method 4: Use a Surface Pen

Windows Surface Pen Settings
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The Surface Pen uses an active digitizer in the display to provide precise and accurate pen input. It includes customizable buttons used to perform various functions such as erasing, writing, and opening apps. One of the more useful Surface Pen functions is its ability to take screen captures and save them to OneNote (app and desktop).

To configure a Surface Pen button, perform the following:

Step 1: Open the Action Center and click the All Settings tile.

Step 2: Select Devices listed in the Settings app.

Step 3: Select Pen & Windows Ink listed on the left.

Step 4: Scroll down to Pen Shortcuts to customize the Click Once, Double-click, and Press and Hold assignments. The options depend on the Surface Pen model.

On the Surface Pen that shipped alongside the 2017 Surface Pro, for example, the eraser button can be configured to take a screen capture and send it to OneNote when the button is double-clicked. If a full-screen capture isn’t needed, use the pen to select a specific region to capture instead. The resulting screenshot will show up in the default OneNote notebook and section.

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