How To Copy the Screen or Active Window to the Clipboard from Visual Basic


This article demonstrates how to programmatically copy the active window or the whole screen to the clipboard and print the image.

More Information

The code included in Knowledge Base article:
161299 How To Capture and Print the Screen, a Form, or any Window

shows how to capture any form or window, including the screen, and place it in a Visual Basic Picture object. If the only requirement is to copy the active window or screen to the clipboard, the keybd_event API is a much easier and lower overhead approach. Calling the keybd_event API achieves the same functionality as entering the key combinations PRINTSCRN (copy the screen to the clipboard) or ALT+PRINTSCRN (copy the active window to the clipboard). If you also need to print the image, a hidden PictureBox can provide this functionality.

Step-by-step Example

  1. Start a new Visual Basic Standard EXE project. Form1 is created by default.
  2. Add three CommandButtons and a PictureBox to Form1.
  3. Add the following code into the General Declarations section of Form1:
    Option Explicit

    Private Declare Sub keybd_event Lib "user32" (ByVal bVk As Byte, ByVal _
    bScan As Byte, ByVal dwFlags As Long, ByVal dwExtraInfo As Long)

    Private Declare Function GetVersionExA Lib "kernel32" _
    (lpVersionInformation As OSVERSIONINFO) As Integer

    Private Type OSVERSIONINFO
    dwOSVersionInfoSize As Long
    dwMajorVersion As Long
    dwMinorVersion As Long
    dwBuildNumber As Long
    dwPlatformId As Long
    szCSDVersion As String * 128
    End Type

    Private Const KEYEVENTF_KEYUP = &H2
    Private Const VK_SNAPSHOT = &H2C
    Private Const VK_MENU = &H12

    Dim blnAboveVer4 As Boolean

    Private Sub Command1_Click()
    If blnAboveVer4 Then
    keybd_event VK_SNAPSHOT, 0, 0, 0
    keybd_event VK_SNAPSHOT, 1, 0, 0
    End If
    End Sub

    Private Sub Command2_Click()
    If blnAboveVer4 Then
    keybd_event VK_SNAPSHOT, 1, 0, 0
    keybd_event VK_MENU, 0, 0, 0
    keybd_event VK_SNAPSHOT, 0, 0, 0
    keybd_event VK_SNAPSHOT, 0, KEYEVENTF_KEYUP, 0
    keybd_event VK_MENU, 0, KEYEVENTF_KEYUP, 0
    End If
    End Sub

    Private Sub Command3_Click()
    ' Load the captured image into a PictureBox and print it
    Picture1.Picture = Clipboard.GetData()
    Printer.PaintPicture Picture1.Picture, 0, 0
    End Sub

    Private Sub Form_Load()
    Dim osinfo As OSVERSIONINFO
    Dim retvalue As Integer

    osinfo.dwOSVersionInfoSize = 148
    osinfo.szCSDVersion = Space$(128)
    retvalue = GetVersionExA(osinfo)
    If osinfo.dwMajorVersion > 4 Then blnAboveVer4 = True

    Picture1.Visible = False
    Command1.Caption = "Print Screen"
    Command2.Caption = "Alt+Print Screen"
    Command3.Caption = "Print Image"
    End Sub
  4. Open Microsoft Paint, and then run the project.
  5. Click the Print Screen button, switch to Paint, and press CTRL+V to paste the contents of the clipboard into Paint. The entire screen is pasted.
  6. Click the Alt+Print Screen button, switch to Paint as before, and press CTRL+V again. Only the active window is pasted.
  7. Click the Print Image button and the captured image will print (using a hidden PictureBox).


For additional information, please click the article numbers below to view them in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

161299 How To Capture and Print the Screen, a Form, or any Window

189249 How To Determine Which 32-Bit Windows Version Is Being Used