How To: Take Great Screenshots In Chrome & On Your Chromebook

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Although there are many parallels between Chrome OS and either Android or Windows, users have a number of choices when it comes to taking a screenshot. For the most part, those are keyboard shortcuts that allow for the quick capturing of whatever's on display, with helpful alternatives for when a specific area, window, or app needs to be captured.

The Chrome browser itself has some additional methods on offer too, albeit through less conventional means for those willing to risk accidentally altering their browsing experience, expanding on those already readily available. Better still, those can readily be applied across the board, on pretty much any gadget that isn't a mobile device.

The process of using those is relatively straightforward too. So users really do have a plethora of options to choose from with Google's browser and operating system.

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Shortcuts for your Chromebook

As is the case with every Chrome OS keyboard shortcut walkthrough, the place to start is with the overall shortcut guide built directly into the operating system. That is easily accessed by holding down the "Ctrl" and "Alt" keys and then pressing the "?" key and shortcuts for just about anything can be found there.

That shortcut is really one that just about anybody using a Chrome OS gadget should commit to memory.

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Now, there are a total of three ways to take a screenshot on a Chromebook using the keyboard, each of which centers around the key featuring the overview icon (a square with vertical lines). Each also saves by default to the "Downloads" folder in the "My Files" directory within the "Files" application.

The first way to take a screenshot is best for when taking a snapshot of the entire screen is required either for editing later or for use as is. Holding "Ctrl" and pressing the overview key will accomplish that task.

A user can also snap a screenshot of an entire window, as it's displayed on-screen. Holding down the "Ctrl" and "Alt" keys before pressing the overview key calls forward a new cursor type, shaped like crosshairs. That can be used to highlight the desired window to be captured but it's worth noting that windows and apps won't be able to be called forward or organized after pressing the keys. So it's a good idea to have everything lined up for capture before instigating the screenshot.

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Last but not least, it is possible to take a screenshot of a chosen segment of what's being shown on the screen — referred to as a 'partial' screenshot. By pressing "Ctrl" and "Shift" before pressing the overview key, the same crosshair cursor as before will appear. From there, holding down the mouse button while dragging the cursor around the screen will select the area to be captured. Releasing the mouse finalizes the capture.

In the Chrome browser

A user doesn't actually need to be in Chrome OS on a Chromebook to take these types of screenshots or on a smartphone to take screenshots that emulate how things look on a smartphone either. Or at least that's the case if the screen that needs to be captured is a web page or app in the Chrome browser. The Chrome DevTools console contains everything that's needed to accomplish the same tasks.

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It's worth pointing out that only advanced users and expressly developers should use these tools since there is some damage that can be caused — at least temporarily — if DevTools are tinkered with beyond what's outlined in this walkthrough. So anybody that wants to capture screenshots by this method should proceed with caution and the knowledge that any missteps could put a serious damper on their day.

As noted above, this actually works in all desktop variants of Chrome, the key difference is that Apple product users will need to press "Cmd" and "Option" keys instead of "Ctrl" and "Shift."

With that said, the first step of the process is going to be to call up the DevTools console itself by holding down the "Ctrl" and "Shift" — or "Cmd" and "Option" — before pressing the "i" key. Once that's been called forward, pressing "Ctrl" and "Shift" and "P" will bring forward a search bar.

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Typing "Screenshot" into that box will call up four options, three of which we'll be looking at.

The first option, "Capture area screenshot" calls forward a reticle-shaped cursor and works exactly like the click-and-drag option for Chrome OS described above. Only the selected area will be captured. Moving down the line, the next choice is the "Capture full size screenshot" selection and that goes quite a bit further than capturing the "current window" as can be accomplished with Chromebook shortcuts. Instead of just capturing the visible area of a given web page, it will scroll and capture then entire page from top to bottom.

Finally, skipping past the "Capture note screenshot" choice, selecting "Capture screenshot" will capture the entire visible area of the current browser window. Capturing "nodes" captures individual elements in the HTML and is going to be almost entirely useless for the overwhelming majority of users who aren't web developers.

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Those same steps can actually be followed, using the DevTools console, to capture screenshots in configurations for different devices too — such as smartphones.

After opening the console, before reaching the search step, users simply need to look for the icon with a square and arrow at the top-left-hand side of that console. Next to that is another icon with a square and a mobile device-shaped icon. The latter of the two icons is the one that needs to be tapped or clicked — or "Ctrl" and "Shift" and then "M" on a Chrome OS device like the one we're using in our examples.

After that's been clicked, it will change the view of the current web page to match the mobile version of the page, in terms of resolution and layout, as seen on popular smartphones or tablets.

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Toward the center of the new UI, along the top of the screen, there will also now be an option labeled "Responsive" by default that has a drop-down arrow. Tapping that reveals a list of devices the view can be switched to.

Screenshots can then be taken following the above-mentioned steps for snagging captures.