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Microsoft mucks with PrtScr key for first time in decades

In Windows 11 it'll soon default to the Snipping Tool. And that's just fine with users, right?

Now that Microsoft has put that whole "aCropalypse" privacy problem in the rear view, the software maker is ready to get the Snipping Tool feature in front of more Windows 11 users.

One place that's happening is with the Print Screen (PrtScr) key, a function that has essentially stayed the same through years of Microsoft upgrades and enhancements to other features.


Microsoft scrambles to fix Windows 11 'aCropalypse' privacy-battering bug


Microsoft this month rolled out Build 22624.1546 to the Insider Beta Channel, which includes the plan to change what happens when the PrtScr key is pushed. Rather than simply taking a shot of what's on the screen and storing it on the Clipboard, OneDrive or third-party apps like Dropbox, it will open Snipping Tool by default.

Users will still have the option with Snipping Tool to make a copy of the entire screen, but it means an extra step. And if users really don't like the change, they can turn off the default setting by going to Settings > Accessibility > Keyboard.

If they already have modified this setting, the preference will be preserved, according to Microsoft.

For the most part, it appears the change are being met with a shrug. One user on Reddit noted that Snipping Tool already was an option in Windows 11 in the Accessibility Settings menu. "All they are changing here is that it will be on by default instead of off."

Another pointed to a shortcut, writing that Win+Shift+S will do the trick, enabling users to "grab the whole screen or a snip, annotate as needed, then either copy past or save as."

"Half of me wants to grumble about 'things changing' and 'back in my day,' but the other half is relieved that I will finally push a button that has existed on my keyboard for decades without ever getting pressed," one techie wrote.

They also pointed to third-party apps for Windows, like the open-source Greenshot and ShareX tools, as options.

"I've had Greenshot bound to PrintScr for ages at this point," one user wrote. "It's just way better than snipping tool – you get a magnifier which you can nudge around using the arrow keys for pixel perfect screenshots."

Another wrote they were surprised Microsoft hadn't bought Greenshot already and "rebranded it as Clippy Grabber or something."

There were those who noted the changing modern user environment and that Print Screen needed to catch up. For one, people increasingly are using two or more monitors at their desk. Hitting PrtScr will capture all the screens. Instead, they need to hold ALT+Print Screen to copy only what's on the active screen.

In addition, as one user pointed out, the size of the screens is expanding. Defaulting to Snipping Tool "makes sense, screen sizes are getting huge. Back in the 640x480 days grabbing the whole screen made sense," they said.

Scrolling through Reddit comments, there was only one really hard "no."

"Remember when just a couple weeks ago Snipping Tool was caught not properly deleting data from trimmed and censored screenshots?" they asked, before colorfully explaining that they remember and don't want Snipping Tool as a default.

That problem was the basis for the aCropalypse privacy snarl. Users were cropping parts of screenshots, photos, and other images – and some of those parts could contain sensitive information or images – using Snipping Tool. However, it was discovered last month that after using the app, the file of the cropped images still included the cropped-out portions, which could be recovered and viewed.

Similar problems were found with the Snip & Sketch cropping tool in Windows 10 and with Google's Markup image-editing app for Pixel smartphones.

Microsoft within days rolled out fixes for both Snipping Tool and Snip & Sketch, but for some users – as seen above – the damage was done.

Despite such protests, unless something goes off the rails, Snipping Tool will become the default. Changes that are put into the Insider Beta Channel almost always end up as features in the OS. ®

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