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Including a screenshot or clipping in your email

Ever wanted to include a screenshot in your email?

For instance, when requesting technical support or providing it, it often can be handy to include screenshots directly in your email message to clarify an issue or to provide instructions.

Outlook/Office 2010 introduced a cool new feature to quickly insert a screenshot or a clipping, but even if you are not using Outlook 2010 or later, it is still easy to quickly insert a good looking screenshot in an email.

While inserting a screenshot in your email message body is already possible since HTML formatted emails, it is still a welcome addition to Outlook 2010 (and also exisits in Outlook 2013) and is easy to use.

Below you’ll also find other methods to insert a screenshot which works in previous versions of Outlook as well and instructions how to crop the screenshot afterwards if needed.

Screenshot feature in Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013

You can find the Screenshot option on the Insert tab. When clicking the button, you’ll get a gallery of screens of all running applications which aren’t in a minimized state. Clicking any of these screens will insert a full image of that application.

If you only want to insert a section of your screen, you can select the option Screen Clipping. The current message will automatically minimize so you’ll have a clear view of the underlying windows.

Inserting a screenshot or clipping has been made real easy in Outlook 2010. (click on image to enlarge)
Inserting a screenshot or clipping has been made real easy in Outlook 2010.
(click on image to enlarge)

PrtScn keyboard button

Most keyboards these days still hold a key labeled “PrtScn” or “Print Screen” which is the classic way to create a screenshot. Originally, this key directly printed your screen output to a printer.

Nowadays, when you press this button, it will take a Full Screen screenshot of your current screen and will copy it to the Windows Clipboard. You can then paste it into your message (or any other application which supports pasting images) via CTRL+V.

When you hold the CTRL button while pressing the PrntScn button, you’ll create a screenshot of the active window only, instead of your entire screen.

On a Surface tablet with a Touch Cover or a Type Cover keyboard, you can use the keyboard shortcut FN+Spacebar for the Print Screen function and FN+Spacebar+ALT to get the CTRL+PrtScn behavior.

The Print Screen key is traditionally located above the navigation keys but can be located elsewhere on laptop-size keyboards.
The Print Screen key is traditionally located above the navigation keys but can be located elsewhere on laptop-size keyboards.

Windows Key + PrtScn keyboard shortcut

In Windows 8, you can use the keyboard shortcut Windows Key + PrtScn to directly create a Full Screen screenshot which is saved as a png-file in your \Pictures\Screenshots folder.

On a Surface tablet, you can achieve this by holding the Windows Key on the front of the tablet itself and pressing the Volume Down button on the side of the tablet. If you have your keyboard attached, you can also use the Windows button on your keyboard + FN + Space bar.

Cropping the inserted screenshot afterwards

If the inserted screenshot shows too much of the screen, you can crop it until it only shows the part that you want. You can activate the Crop feature in the following way;

  • Outlook 2003 (requires Word as the email editor)
    Select the inserted image and on the Picture Toolbar, select the Crop button icon - crop image or picture
    If the Picture Toolbar is not visible, choose View-> Toolbars-> Picture
  • Outlook 2007, Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013
    Select the image, select the Format tab and then click on the top part of the Crop button.

Once cropping is enabled, you can drag the center edges and corners of the inserted screenshot to remove those parts of the screenshot. This is similar to normally dragging the edges or corners to resize the image.

Upon sending, the non-visible areas of the image are automatically (and permanently) removed so the receiver cannot “recover” the rest of your screenshot and still see the things which you wanted to hide.

You can crop an inserted screenshot of for instance a web page to only keep the section that you want to show the recipient.
You can crop an inserted screenshot of for instance a web page to only keep the section that you want to show to the recipient.

Windows Snipping Tool, OneNote and other applications

There are of course many other ways to create and insert a screenshot. Some of my favorites are;

Snipping Tool
Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8 for instance have the Snipping Tool which was also available in the Windows XP Tablet PC Experience Pack. Aside from a Full Screen and (active) Window screenshot option, it also offers to create a screen clipping and even a free hand selection. The Snipping Tool also contains a basic editor with, amongst others, the option to annotate it and send it as an email.

The Windows Snipping Tool offers 4 different ways to create a screenshot.
The Windows Snipping Tool offers 4 different ways to create a screenshot.

OneNote
OneNote also contains a screenshot feature which can be activated via the keyboard shortcut Windows+S (but will change to Windows+SHIFT+S in a later update as Windows 8.1 will use Windows+S to bring up its Search charm).

After selecting what to include in the screenshot, OneNote will ask you what to do with the taken screenshot. There is an option “Copy to Clipboard” so you can easily paste it in your email.

OneNote also holds a screenshot creation feature which can be used for other applications as well.
OneNote also holds a screenshot creation feature which
can be used for other applications as well.

3rd party tools
If you need more than just a simple screenshot feature, you can consider using SnagIt which is a fully featured screenshot manager. Aside from automatically keeping a history of taken screenshots, it also offers you to take screenshots of scrolling windows such as a long web page.

Jing is another screenshot tool which is offered for free and allows you to directly upload and share your taken screenshot. It will also keep a history of taken screenshots and has an option to create short screen recordings (videos) as well.