|This article does not cite any references or sources. (October 2013)|
Print screen (often abbreviated Print Scrn, Prnt Scrn, Prt Scn, Prt Scr, or Prt Sc) is a key present on most PC keyboards. It is typically situated in the same section as the break key and scroll lock key. The print screen may share the same key as system request.
Under command-line based operating systems such as MS-DOS, this key causes the contents of the current text mode screen memory buffer to be copied to the standard printer port, usually LPT1. In essence, whatever was currently on the screen when the key was pressed was printed. Pressing the ^ Ctrl key in combination with ⎙ PrtScr turns on and off the "printer echo" feature. When echo is in effect, any conventional text output to the screen will be copied ("echoed") to the printer. There is also a Unicode character for print screen, U+2399 ⎙ print screen symbol.
Newer-generation operating systems using a graphical interface tend to save a bitmap image of the current screen, or screenshot, to their clipboard or comparable storage area. Some shells allow modification of the exact behavior using modifier keys such as the control key.
In Microsoft Windows, pressing ⎙ PrtScr will capture the entire screen, while pressing the ⎇ Alt key in combination with ⎙ PrtScr will capture the currently selected window. The captured image can then be pasted into an editing program such as a word processor or graphics program. Pressing ⎙ PrtScr with both the left ⎇ Alt key and left ⇧ Shift pressed turns on a high contrast mode (this keyboard shortcut can be turned off by the user). Pressing the ^ Ctrl key in combination with ⎙ PrtScr usually will capture the entire screen, also. This behavior is there for backward compatibility with users who learned Print Screen actions under operating systems such as MS-DOS.
Macintosh does not use a print screen key; instead, key combinations are used that start with ⌘ Cmd+⇧ Shift. These key combinations are used to provide more functionality including the ability to select screen objects. ⌘ Cmd+⇧ Shift+3 captures the whole screen, while ⌘ Cmd+⇧ Shift+4 allows for part of the screen to be selected. The standard print screen functions described above save the image to the desktop. However, using any of the key sequences described above, but additionally pressing the ^ Ctrl will modify the behavior to copy the image to the system clipboard instead.