How to Take a Screenshot on Your Chromebook

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Chromebooks are designed to be pretty simple machines, but did you know they come with a range of features you wouldn’t expect? Taking a screenshot of anything on your desktop is a breeze with these quick shortcuts, and you can even single out a small section just in case you want to cut down on cropping time in the photo editor of your choosing.

Grab the Whole Desktop

Much like the PrtScrn button before it, the developers of Chrome OS have realized that people like to take screenshots, and will always want a dedicated button to make the process as quick and seamless as possible.

For users on a Chromebook, taking a screenshot of your entire desktop at once is only one shortcut away. To save the image of whatever’s happening on your screen at that moment, just hold down Ctrl + .

This button can be found along the top row of your keyboard if you’re using a standard Chromebook, and without the Ctrl command will bring you into your window review containing all the other Chrome sessions you have open at the time.

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After the screenshot is taken, a notification will pop up in the bottom right corner to let you know the process was successful.

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If you want to quickly copy the screenshot to the clipboard, you’ll have about three seconds to click the button right underneath before the prompt disappears.

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Don’t worry though, if you still want the image in your clipboard but missed the bar while it was up, you can navigate to your Downloads folder where the screenshot was saved and copy it from there.

Single Out Your Own Section

We all know how tedious it can be to try to perfectly crop out the section of an image you’re looking to save, especially when full screenshots can take up extra space and make any smaller sections look blurry and out of place by comparison.

To combat this, the engineers at Google added one extra shortcut which allows you to screenshot the specific area you want to copy, and nothing else on top. To use this feature, instead of just Ctrl + , the full command includes Ctrl + Shift + . After holding down these buttons in sequence, your cursor will turn into a small cross. You can release the keyboard shortcut, and begin boxing in the area of your desktop you want to save by holding down the left mouse button.

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From here, you just need to pull down to create the box, and Chrome OS will save whatever content was contained inside the boundaries to your Downloads folder automatically.

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Alternative Shortcuts

If you’re working on an older Chromebook, or using a separate keyboard with a box running Chrome OS that doesn’t have a dedicated  button, you can also use Ctrl + F5 to activate the full window screenshot, or Ctrl + Shift + F5 to achieve the same effect.


Chrome OS makes it easy to save screenshots both to your keyboard and your hard drive with just a few quick keystrokes, and reduces the amount of strain you’ll put on your photo editor with seamless cropping capabilities that other operating systems just can’t match.

Image Credits: Flickr/Maurizio Pesce

Chris Stobing is a writer and blogger from the heart of Silicon Valley. Raised around tech from birth, he's had an interest in PC hardware and networking technology for years, and has come to How-To Geek to contribute his knowledge on both. You can follow him on Twitter here.