Ever wish you could grab an image of what you’re seeing in that beautiful new video game? Well you can—in fact, some tools even let you pause the game and take a screenshot using a free-moving, in-game camera.

The usual shortcuts to take a screenshot of your PC’s desktop often don’t work properly in games. You may just end up capturing a black screen or a picture of your desktop when you press the Windows+Print Screen button to take a screenshot of a full-screen game, for example, so other methods may be required.

Thankfully, Steam has a built-in shortcut for taking a game screenshot, and this feature is built into NVIDIA and AMD’s graphics drivers, too. If you’re playing a newer game on NVIDIA graphics hardware, you can even take advantage of NVIDIA Ansel to pause your gameplay and set up the perfect screenshot of your character. Here’s how to put these different methods to use.

Take a Screenshot Using Steam’s Shortcut

If you’re playing a game on Steam, you can use the screenshot feature built into Steam’s overlay to snap a picture of what’s on your screen. Press the “F12” key on your keyboard to take a screenshot. You’ll hear a shutter sound and a “Screenshot saved” notification will appear at the bottom right corner of your screen.

You can change the F12 key to another shortcut key, if you like. In the Steam interface, click Steam > Settings > In-Game and change the “Screenshot shortcut keys” option.

To view screenshots taken within the game, you can open the Steam overlay by pressing Shift+Tab—or your custom keyboard shortcut, if you’ve changed this in Steam—and click the “View Screenshots” button on the overlay.

After exiting the game, you can also see your screenshots from the game’s page in your Steam library. Scroll down to the bottom of the game’s page and you’ll see a Screenshots section with a “View Screenshot Library” button.

The screenshot library allows you to upload your screenshots to Steam, making them public, friends-only, or private, and optionally share them to Facebook. There’s also a “Show on Disk” button here that will show you the screenshots as image files on your PC, allowing you to do whatever you want with them.

Take Screenshots Using In-Game Shortcuts

Many games, particularly games which aren’t on Steam, have their own built-in screenshot functions and shortcuts. This screenshot key is often just the “Print Screen” key, but it may be a different key in some games. Tap the key in question, and the game will save a screenshot of itself to a location on your disk.

In Blizzard’s Battle.net games, for example, the Print Screen key always saves a screenshot. You can then find your screenshots in a folder on your hard drive (though it’s different for each Blizzard game). For example, Overwatch stores screenshots in Documents\Overwatch\ScreenShots\Overwatch .

Depending on the game you’re taking a screenshot of, you may need to perform a web search or look in its keyboard shortcut configuration menu to find the screenshot key and save location.

Take Screenshots with NVIDIA GeForce Experience

If you have NVIDIA graphics hardware, you probably have NVIDIA’s GeForce Experience software installed. It has a few tricks up its sleeve, including a basic screenshot feature that should work in every game. To take a screenshot with GeForce Experience, press Alt+F1. The screenshot will be saved to the GeForce Experience gallery, and you’ll see a “Screenshot has been saved to Gallery” notification appear at the top right corner of your screen.

To view the screenshots, you can press Alt+Z from anywhere—yes, even on your Windows desktop—to view the overlay. Click “Gallery” to view your captured screenshots along with any ShadowPlay videos you’ve saved. You can also find the screenshots under Videos\[Name of Game] along with any videos you’ve captured with GeForce Experience.

Take Powerful, In-Game Screenshots with NVIDIA Ansel

GeForce Experience has a more impressive feature, however, named NVIDIA Ansel, which can take in-game screenshots using a free-moving camera. This works only in specific games where the developer has enabled support for the feature, and it’s fairly new, so only a few games are supported. You can see the full list of Ansel-enabled games on NVIDIA’s website. Big games like Dishonored 2, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, Middle-earth: Shadow of War, and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt are included on this list.

To use NVIDIA Ansel in an enabled game, simply press Alt+F2. The gameplay will freeze and you’ll see an “Ansel” sidebar appear. You can use the movement keys on your keyboard and click and drag with the mouse to reposition the camera in the game scene so you can take the perfect screenshot.

You can change the options in the sidebar to give the screenshot a different filter effect (like sepia tone) or adjust the field of view. At the bottom, you can select whether you want to capture a normal screenshot, a super resolution screenshot that’s even more detailed than a normal screenshot, or a 360-degree screenshot. These 360-degree screenshots can be viewed in a variety of ways, including with a desktop web browser or a VR headset like an Oculus RIft, HTC Vive, or Google Cardboard headset.

Click the “Snap” button and your screenshot will be saved. You can keep going to take as many different screenshots as you like of the paused scene. When you’re done, you’ll find your screenshots in the GeForce Experience gallery. Press Alt+Z and click “Gallery” to view it. These screenshots will also appear under Videos\[Name of Game] along with any ShadowPlay videos or normal GeForce Experience screenshots you’ve taken.

AMD ReLive

With AMD graphics hardware, you can use AMD’s ReLive feature to take a screenshot—but only if you have desktop graphics hardware based on the AMD Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture.

There’s nothing fancy here like NVIDIA Ansel. You can use this feature to take screenshots as well as capture videos, just like you would with Steam or NVIDIA GeForce Experience.

Once you’ve enabled ReLive, you can either press Ctrl+Shift+E or press Alt+Z and then click “Screenshot” to take a screenshot from within a game. By default, it will save screenshots you take to your Videos folder.

Take Screenshots with Windows 10’s Game Bar

Windows 10’s Game Bar also includes a screenshot feature, so you could also use that if one of the above options won’t work. To use it, you can either press Windows+Alt+Print Screen or press Windows+G to open the game bar and then click the camera-shaped “Screenshot” button on the bar. These keyboard shortcuts can be changed from Settings > Gaming > Game bar, if you like.

RELATED: How to Record PC Gameplay With Windows 10’s Game DVR and Game Bar

When you take a screenshot with the game bar, you’ll see an Xbox “Screenshot saved” notification at the bottom right corner of your screen. Screenshots you’ve taken in this way will appear under Videos\Captures along with any videos you’ve captured with Windows 10’s Game DVR feature.

Profile Photo for Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
Read Full Bio »