I want to know how the Print Screen key works. This is useful to take a snap of the current screen, but how does is this possible? Is there software that run and take a snap when print screen key is been pressed? If so what are they?

Can anyone help me in the behind scenes of this process?

  • 2
    I would love to see a detailed answer on this. It's something I take for granted :)
    – n0pe
    Apr 3 '11 at 1:59
  • 5
    I am in shock and awe every time my PC boots up. Its mind boggling something so complex is so dependable, too bad my government does not work this well.
    – Moab
    Apr 3 '11 at 2:39
  • and then. it BSODs. ;p. The government works perfectly well- in its own way. Just not the way we want it to ;p
    – Journeyman Geek
    Apr 3 '11 at 5:58

Specifically how it works is implementation-dependent, but in many cases the framebuffer holds whatever is currently being displayed on the screen, so the simplest way to make a screenshot is just to take that chunk of memory and write it to a file. You can often do this (on Linux) with the command cat /dev/fb0 > 'filename' (where 'filename' is the image file you want to write).

  • cat /dev/fb0 > 'filename' didn't worked Dec 14 '14 at 14:01

The Journeyman is quite right. It is basically just a functionality of Windows. As soon as you press Print Screen, Windows will grab the color of all of the pixels on your screen (the little dots), and save it to your clipboard (where everything you "copy" (ctrl + c) goes), so you can paste it in Paint, or whatever program.

There's no special software or anything running, it's just Windows.

  • @Rene what does color of all of the pixels on your screen means? Will the pixel data comes from display? Selected answer says about some 'framebuffer' and I think its just some memory from where OS will grab the data. Please correct.
    – manikanta
    Dec 26 '13 at 9:23

Its quite simply part of the OS/Display manager. In older implimentations it used to print out whatever's on the screen- the choice/option of copying what's on the screen is relatively new - you can then paste the image into your image editor of choice.

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