The Snipping Tool is a screen-capture tool that allows taking screenshots (called 'snips') of an open window, rectangular areas, a free-form area or the entire screen. Snips can then be annotated using a mouse or a tablet, saved as an image file (PNG, GIF, or JPEG file) or an HTML page, or e-mailed.
If you are using Windows Vista Home Premium or higher - OR - Windows XP Tablet PC Edition with the Experience Pack, then read on. If you are using any other flavour of Windows, you're out of luck! Of course, the Snipping Tool will be included in Windows 7, but I suspect that the 'lesser' versions, like the 'Basic' offering, will also be crippled!
My preference for taking 'snips' or 'screen captures' has always been TechSmith's SnagIt, but that piece of magical software is a $49.95 package. And my intention has always been to point you to free software, and it doesn't come much 'freer' than a programme you already have on your computer, albeit well hidden!
Here's how to find it: choose Start >> All Programs >> Accessories >> Snipping Tool. If you don't see it there, it may not be activated. Go to Control Panel and open Program and Features (you may have to click Programs first). In the task pane on the left, click Turn Windows features on or off. If necessary, click Continue when prompted by UAC. Scroll through the list of features, check the box next to Tablet PC Optional Components, and click OK. Turning on these features gives you not only the Snipping Tool, but also the Tablet PC Input Panel, Windows Journal, and other stylus-related features. All totally useless if you don't have a Tablet!
If you've found it, and/or activated it, and placed a shortcut icon on the desktop or wherever you feel comfortable placing it, then click on the icon (I've stopped saying 'double-click' as many users, like myself, prefer the 'single-click' method) and this is what you'll get:
Pretty straightforward as you can see. Choose the type of snip you wish to make and off you go. The monitor screen will go all blurred ...
... and this is what you get when you've completed the snip:
And just to be perverse, here is a 'screencap' of the 'Snipping Tool' taking a snip of the 'SnagIt' window. I did it to show that it is as easy to take a snip of a window, as it is to take snips of a 'Free-form Area', 'User-defined Rectangle' or of a 'Full Screen':
Go play ...