How-To Geek

Assign a Shortcut Key to the Snipping Tool in Windows

Windows includes a screen capture/screenshot tool that is actually pretty decent. You can take region captures or full screenshots and easily save them using this tool.

Note: The snipping tool doesn’t exist on every version of Vista. To turn it on, you’ll have to go to “Turn Windows features on or off” in Control Panel, and check the box for the Tablet PC utilities.


The only problem with this tool is that there’s no hotkey to bring up the window. But we’ll fix that…

Bring up the Start Menu, and then click on All Programs. Click the Accessories folder, and you’ll see the Snipping Tool. If you’re using Windows 8, you’ll need to go to the All Apps screen instead.

Right click it and go to the Properties screen. You’ll see a Shortcut key text box:


The only annoying thing with this trick is that you can’t use the PrintScreen key… but no big deal. I assigned Ctrl + F12 because that’s something easy to remember that I don’t use for anything else.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 12/26/10

Comments (23)

  1. John Smithson

    Neat. Thanks.

  2. assive2007


  3. Bob Siemann

    Outstanding information

  4. Liew

    hey, thanks

  5. Carolyn

    this didnt work for me, it wont let me change the setting from none….i have vista ultimate?

  6. julian

    Nice :) Though I got a bit confused because the ‘Shortcut Key’ box it doesn’t seem to allow you to change it as nothing changes when you click in it. But when I pressed Ctrl+F12, it changed the setting in the box.

  7. bluEyez

    please let users know where they can find “Turn Windows features on or off”
    u did not explain that, i had to search for another tutorial to get to that

    Control Panel > Programs and Features > Turn Windows features on or off ( left side menu )

  8. Shirley

    I added my snipping tool to the task bar and I can still use the printscreen hotkey.

  9. dinesh

    right click on “snipping tool” and click “add to quick launch menu” . It will appear in the quick launch menu.

  10. Juliana Peņa

    If you have OneNote, you can use Win+S to use OneNote’s snipping tool and automatically send the captured screen image to OneNote. Useful sometimes.

  11. Spacegold

    My version of Vista does not have the hotkey option under the shortcut tab in the properties for Snipping Tool. So I created a shortcut on the desktop and moved it to quick launch on the task bar.

  12. Graham

    Thanks howtogeek I hope this will now enable me to snip when i’ve gone to full screen. Thanks Julian for your invaluable how to tip as i also was stumped at ‘none’.

  13. Graham

    Well I spoke to soon. I have tried to use Ctrl + F12 but nowt happens. Nowt in full screen and nowt in normal toolbars view. Maybe I have to active this type of acess. Now how do I do that? Oh to be a geek or in my case just a competent tennager would probably be enough.

  14. wing-chun

    this worked a treat iv been looking for sumthing like this
    its very annoying to have to open it from start menu
    cos it keeps sticking this is far easyier thanks

    and if anyone want to know you must remember to save the hot (apply +ok it) before
    it will work.

  15. jonrichco

    In the Shortcut key text box, it doesn’t allow me to enter a key – or at least it won’t hold it long enough for me to apply. Any ideas? I have a shortcut to the tool on my Quick Launch already. Maybe this affects it?

    Would be good to fix it – looks like a useful tip. Thanks Geek.

  16. Greg Edwards

    Interesting side tip: You need to create the shortcut key from the shortcut in the Accessories group, NOT from the shortcut in the Quick Launch bar (if you’ve enabled the option within the Snipping Tool program to show it there). Don’t know why this should make a difference, but the shortcut key didn’t work for me until I assigned EXACTLY as article described. Now it works like a charm. Thanks!

  17. Beth

    Thanks for this great tip. I tried it and it works. Do you know of any way (even non-free) utility that would allow me to assign this so a SINGLE key (i.e. PrintScreen, ScrollLock, etc.)?

  18. Jay

    You can also get original Vista Snipping Tool on Windows XP, yeah really just like Vista and Windows 7:

  19. Ans

    thanks..for sharing

  20. Ibrar

    Once the snipping tool is started, just leave it open on the taskbar – when u need to create a snip press ctrl + printscreen.

  21. kristakz

    Gadwin printscreen is nice, simple, free screenshot utility that you can assign to the printscreen button.

  22. snippi

    Thank you

  23. Jiim Clark

    If you are a Windows Ninja and you are not using AutoHotKey, you should be! If you are using AHK then add this to one of your scripts:

    PrintScreen::Run, “C:\Windows\Sysnative\SnippingTool.exe”

    BAM! Snipping Tool on PrtScn!

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