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How to Take a Screenshot on a Chromebook and Annotate it!

Updated on October 13, 2016
Jonathan Wylie profile image

Jonathan is a certified teacher who taught in the UK & the US. He now works as an instructional technology consultant for Grant Wood AEA.

Chromebook Desktop Screenshot
Chromebook Desktop Screenshot

Chromebook Screenshots: Default Options

Google gives you two native options for taking screenshots on a Chromebook. This is not nearly as many as you get on a Mac, but it is enough for most people to capture what they need. Right now, your options come in the form of a keyboard shortcut, but in the future we may also see this functionality built into the menus of Chrome OS. 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

The Problem With Chromebook Screenshots

Unfortunately, Google does not give you many annotation tools to markup your screenshot. If you open one in the Files app, you can crop it, rename it, rotate it, or adjust the brightness and contrast. So, to apply the annotations that you really need, you will have to install a dedicated screenshot tool.

If you search the Chrome Web Store for screenshot apps or extensions you will doubtless find a lot. However, in terms of quality, there are two that stand out from the rest - Snagit for Chrome and Awesome Screenshot.

Capture and Annotate with 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)

Annotating with the Awesome Screenshot Extension

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.

Awesome Screenshot annotation tools
Awesome Screenshot annotation tools

Chromebook Screen Captures with Snagit for Chrome

Another useful screenshot tool is the free Snagit for Chrome extension, by TechSmith. This one works in much the same way as Awesome Screenshot. Once installed, click the extension in your toolbar to activate the cross hair selection tool. Then, click and drag to select the area you want to capture, or click the full screen icon in the bottom right-hand corner to capture the entire screen.

Annotating with Snagit for Chrome

With Snagit, you have three options for capture. You can click and drag over an area with your cursor, choose to capture everything that s visible on the page, or do a scrolling capture to capture everything you can see and everything else that you only see after you scroll down the page. When your screenshot is captured, the Snagit app will open and let you add some basic annotations like arrows, text, and shapes. Double clicking each icon will let you change the color or properties of the tool you have selected. You can also rename your file by clicking at the top of the Snagit app's window.

Annotated screenshots are automatically saved to a folder in your Google Drive called TechSmith, but they are also accessible in the Library of the Snagit app. You can go back to the Library at any time, access all the screenshots you have ever taken, and edit them as many times as you like.

As well as screenshot captures, Snagit for Chrome will also let you capture a video screencast. These are saved to the Snagt app just like your screenshots, and are a great option for those that want to create a screencast on a Chromebook.

Snagit for Chrome App
Snagit for Chrome App | Source

The Problem of Capturing with a Screenshot 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 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.


Which screenshot tool do you prefer?

See results


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.


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    • agvulpes profile image

      Peter 3 years ago from Australia

      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 :)

    • Jonathan Wylie profile image

      Jonathan Wylie 3 years ago from Iowa, USA

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

    • profile image

      Kathryn 3 years ago

      Very intriguing

    • married2medicine profile image

      Funom Theophilus Makama 3 years ago from Europe

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

    • profile image

      Rudolf Nanne 2 years ago

      Evernote Web Clipper! It was quite a search and I've tried them ALL --TechSmit Snagit (too less editing), Awesome Screenshot (clumsy blur, no highlight marker), Nimbus (clumsy blur, no highlight marker), Lightshot (no blur, no eclipse) Screen Capture by Google (no longer available), qSnap (clumsy blur, no highlight marker) FireShot (no editing) - but there is fortunately the perfect Chromebook replacement for Microsoft Snipping Tool and this is called "Evernote Web Clipper". Try it yourself! https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/evernote...

    • Jonathan Wylie profile image

      Jonathan Wylie 2 years ago from Iowa, USA

      Good suggestion Rudolf :)

    • profile image

      Margit Lanze 2 years ago

      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 profile image

      Jonathan Wylie 2 years ago from Iowa, USA

      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! :)

    • profile image

      Katyjean 8 months ago

      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 profile image

      Jonathan Wylie 8 months ago from Iowa, USA

      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 :)

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