Creating a screen dump (PrintScreen) and PDF files

Everybody knows how to print. However, on this page additional printing options are discussed, like creating a PDF file and creating a screen dump (a print of the shown screen).

Creating a screen dump with the PrintScreen key

By using the PrtScr key (situated on the right side of the F12 key for most keyboards) you are able to create a screen dump of the current screen (use ALT-PrtScr to create a screen dump of the current Window). However, most users don't understand the use of this key because nothing happens after you press this key. The created screen dump can be used by pasting it (with the key combination CTRL-V) in your favorite picture editing software, an e-mail or just Word. By pasting the screen dump your are able to print it in many ways.

TIP: By pasting an error message into an e-mail message, a specialist can be informed in the best possible way. To achieve this, the e-mail layout should be HTML instead of plain text (HTML is the default layout in Outlook and Outlook Express). Using Outlook Express, it is not possible to past a screen dump into a message. This must be done by Insert, Picture followed by browsing to a saved file (in the next steps you are shown how to create a file of the created screen dump).

The advantages of a screen dump

A few of the many advantages of creating a screen dump:

Print to a PDF file with PDFCreator

Besides printing to paper, printing can also be done to a PDF file which can be read by the free Adobe Reader (download: This tool can not be missed on your computer. The characteristics of a PDF file is the fixed layout as meant by the publisher (most manuals are available in PDF format). The additional advantage of offering a PDF file (instead of a Word document or other format) is the ability to secure the content of the document in a way it can not be changed by the reader. The PDF format is ideal for sending an application letter/CV, an invoice or another personel document which you don't want to be changed by the reader.

With the free tool PDFCreator (download: as virtual printer you can easely create PDF files. When the Internet Explorer taskbar PDFCreator Toolbar is not needed, disable it at setup. After installing PDFCreator an additional (virtual) printer is added which can be used to print to a PDF file. If you have chosen PDFCreator, you will be asked for the file properties like the document title, creation/modify date, author, subject en as you wish some keywords (you are not obliged to fill them all). After pressing the button Save the wished storage location is asked for (the storage location of the previous printjob will be shown). If encryption is enabled, in the following screen will be asked for the password. The created PDF file can be found on the given storage location.

The default settings of PDFCreator can be changed easely. On the menuitem PDF, tab Security the PDF file can be secured. If you do so, you can give the user of the PDF file the rights to change or print the PDF file or to copy text to another program. On the menuitem Save you are able to change the default publisername.

Security settings of PDF file created by PDFCreator.

TIP: PrimoPDF (download: and PDF995 (download: are similar tools which essentially work almost the same. You have to do some testing to find out which of them you prefer.

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