You are hard at work on your Windows computer when you get an error message. This message has been popping up with increasing frequency, so you want to ask an IT professional about it. While you could write down or try to memorize the message, an easier approach is to take a screenshot of it. Taking a screenshot is a quick way to precisely capture what the message says.

Sharing a Windows error message is a simple two-step process:

Step 1. Capture the Error Message

In Windows Vista and later versions, there are several ways to capture an error message:

  • Use Prt Scr to capture the entire screen: The easiest way to capture the error message is to take a screenshot of your entire screen. When the message appears, simply press your keyboard’s Prt Scr key. The key might have a different label such as Prt Sc or Print Screen. It is typically located in the top row of keys on the right side.
  • Use Alt+Prt Scr to capture just the error message: You can also use Prt Scr to capture only the error message and not your entire screen. When the message pops up, click the message and then press Alt+Prt Scr (i.e. press the Alt and Prt Scr keys at the same time).
  • Use the Snipping Tool to capture as much of the screen as you want: The Snipping Tool is handy if you want to capture the error message and another specific part of your screen. For instance, you can use it to capture the error message and the application in which it appeared but nothing else on your screen. When the error message appears, enter “snipping” in the Windows search box and select the “Snipping Tool” app listed in the results. In the box that appears, click the “New” button. Your cursor will turn into a plus sign. Drag your cursor around the error message and the part of the screen you want to capture.

Step 2. Paste the Screenshot into an Email or Save It as an Image File

Once you have taken the screenshot using either the Prt Scr key or Snipping Tool, you can paste it directly into an email. To do so, create a new email, put your cursor in the email’s body, and press Ctrl+V. To help your IT consultant troubleshoot the problem, mention what you were doing when you received the error message.

Alternatively, you can save the screenshot as an image file using the Paint program that’s included with Windows. (You can also use a different graphics application or even a word processor such as Microsoft Word.) Open Paint and paste the screenshot into the blank canvas by pressing Ctrl+V or clicking the “Paste” button on the “Home” tab. Next, select the “Save” option on the “File” tab, provide a filename, specify where to save the file, and click “Save”. You can then send the image file to your trusted IT consultant via email, instant messaging, or another communications program.