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How to Take a Screenshot: Chromebook Tips & Tricks

Jonathan is a certified teacher who has taught in the UK and in the US. He now works as a digital learning consultant.

Chromebook Desktop Screenshot

Chromebook Desktop Screenshot

Chromebook Screenshots: Default Options

Google gives you two native options for taking screenshots on a Chromebook. This is enough for most people to capture what they need. Currently, these options come in the form of keyboard shortcuts, but in the future, we may also see this functionality built into Chrome OS itself. The keyboard shortcuts are:

  1. Ctrl + the Window Switching Key: Capture a full-screen screenshot.
  2. Ctrl + Shift + the Window Switching Key: Select an area to capture as a screenshot.

What Is the Window Switching Key?

It's on the top row of a Chromebook keyboard. It looks like three rectangles placed on top of each other. It is normally used to move between open windows on your Chromebook, but when combined with other keys, as above, it helps you take screenshots.

Where Are Chromebook Screenshots Saved?

Immediately after you capture your screenshot, you will see a notification in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen. It says "Screenshot taken - Click to view". Clicking this pop-up will immediately open the Files app where you will see your saved screenshot and any other files that you have downloaded while using your Chromebook.

If you happen to miss the notification, click on the App Launcher and then select the Files app. On the left-hand side of the Files app, you should see a Downloads folder. Click that to access your captured screenshots.

Chromebook Captured Screenshot Notification

Chromebook Captured Screenshot Notification

Annotating Native Chromebook Screenshots

Unfortunately, Google does not give you many annotation tools to mark up your screenshot. If you open one in the Files app, you can crop it, rename it, rotate it, or adjust the brightness and contrast. However, if you import the image into Google Drawings, you can use the shape and annotation tools to highlight specific elements that you want to draw people's attention to.

Use Awesome Screenshot

Awesome Screenshot is extremely useful because not only does it let you take screenshots, it also lets you annotate them. Once installed it will appear as an icon in your toolbar next to your other extensions. Clicking it gives you the following options:

  • Capture the visible part of your page.
  • Select an area of your page to capture.
  • Capture the whole page (including the scrollable area you can't see).
  • Upload a local file (from your Files app).

Once you capture your screenshot, the editor will open and you will have a number of annotation tools. They include:

  • Crop tool
  • Rectangle tool
  • Ellipse tool
  • Arrows
  • Lines
  • Freehand drawing tool
  • Blur tool
  • Text tool
  • Color picker

Simply select the tools you need and mark up the image as you see fit, then click Done. Next, choose where you want to save your finished image. Screenshots can be saved to Google Drive, Diigo, or locally to the Files app on your Chromebook.

Even More Extensions to Screenshot Chromebook Screens

As you may expect, there are numerous other screenshot extensions for Chromebooks. Not all of them are really worth your time, but a few of the better ones are listed here.

  • Nimbus
  • Fireshot
  • Clipular

Disadvantages of Using a Screenshot Chromebook Extension

Screenshot extensions like Snagit and Awesome Screenshot are very versatile tools. However, they come with one main disadvantage: They only let you capture elements inside a web page. This means you cannot take screenshots of the Chrome OS desktop, address bar, toolbar, or any Desktop Chrome Apps. The reason for this is Google. It does not allow apps and extensions to have access to Chrome OS in this way.

If you need to take screenshots of the Chromebook desktop, address bar, toolbar or things like that, then you need to use the Chromebook shortcut keys discussed at the beginning of this article.

If you want to annotate those screenshots, use Awesome Screenshot, and upload them as a local image and mark them up accordingly. You can also edit in Snagit if you move the screenshot from the Files app to your TechSmith folder in Drive. Doing this makes it appear in the Snagit app for further editing.

Find Out What Works Best for You

If you don't do a lot of annotations on your screenshots, the built-in keyboard shortcuts will likely serve you well. However, if you want the greatest degree of flexibility when taking those screenshots, extensions like Awesome Screenshot or Snagit for Chrome are a much better bet.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on September 12, 2016:

Nope! This feature was available when the article was written, but I didn't think of it. I will update the article and credit Margit :)

Katyjean on September 12, 2016:

Margit- Agreed. I always prefer the native solution, and Google Drawings combined with the web clipboard is a very simple option.

(This feature may have been added since the article was written.)

Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on May 01, 2015:

Good idea. I already have the keyboard shortcuts listed at the start of this article, but I did not think about using Google Drawing as an annotator. It is a bit more work than an extension, but it works! :)

Margit Lanze on May 01, 2015:

I found a way to capture non-browser content. Take a screenshot with Ctrl+Window Switching Key or Ctrl+Shift+Window Switching Key and copy the screenshot to the clipboard. Open a Google document, and open "Insert Drawing." Make your annotations, save and close. Voila!

Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on September 21, 2014:

Good suggestion Rudolf :)

Funom Theophilus Makama from Europe on February 23, 2014:

This is cool! I never had an idea before now!

Kathryn on February 23, 2014:

Very intriguing

Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on February 21, 2014:

Thanks agvulpes. I am glad you found it useful! :)

Peter from Australia on February 21, 2014:

I have been looking at getting a chrome book and was worried about this aspect !

Thanks for solving this for me and I am bookmarking and sharing this Hub :)