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Unable to Use the PRINT SCREEN Key in an MS-DOS-Based Program or from a Command Prompt

This article was previously published under Q269039
This article applies to Windows 2000. Support for Windows 2000 ends on July 13, 2010. The Windows 2000 End-of-Support Solution Center is a starting point for planning your migration strategy from Windows 2000. For more information see the Microsoft Support Lifecycle Policy.
This article has been archived. It is offered "as is" and will no longer be updated.
You may be unable to use the PRINT SCREEN key from an MS-DOS command prompt, or an MS-DOS-based program. When you press the PRINT SCREEN key, the contents of the desktop are copied to the Clipboard.
When the PrtSc, and Alt+PrtSc reserved-key check boxes are not selected, they do not return the PRINT SCREEN reserved key operation to the command window. From either a command prompt, or in an MS-DOS-based program, these check boxes are located on the Misc tab, in the properties of a command window.
To work around this issue, use one of the following methods.

Method 1

  1. Create a shortcut to the MS-DOS-based program.
  2. Right-click the shortcut, and then click Properties.
  3. On the Misc tab, click to clear the PrtSc, and Alt+PrtSc check boxes.
  4. Click Apply, and then click OK.
  5. Double-click the new shortcut icon.
  6. To use the PRINT SCREEN operation to direct output to the default printer, press and release the ALT key, and then press the PRINT SCREEN key.
NOTE: Do not press and hold ALT, and then press PRINT SCREEN. Holding ALT, and pressing the PRINT SCREEN key directs the output to the Clipboard instead of to the printer.

In some cases the command window content may not be sufficient to force the PRINT SCREEN operation. There is no form-feed function for PRINT SCREEN, and you may have to use the PRINT SCREEN key combination multiple times in order to print.

IMPORTANT: If the MS-DOS-based program responds to the ALT key, such as MS-DOS Editor, the PRINT SCREEN operation does not send the output to the default printer. The ALT+PRINT SCREEN key combination only works for programs that do not respond to the ALT key as a command. If the program responds to the ALT key as a command, you will need to use either Method 2 or Method 3.

Method 2

Create a .pif file on a computer that is running either Microsoft Windows 95, or Microsoft Windows 98, and then copy this .pif file to a computer that is running Microsoft Windows 2000.
  1. Create the .pif on a computer that is running either Windows 95, or Windows 98.
  2. Configure the options on the .pif file.
  3. Click to select the Close Window on Exit box when you configure the .pif file while changing the path. This box is not selected by default in Windows 98.
  4. Copy the .pif file to the Windows 2000 computer.
  5. Open the properties for the .pif file, and then edit the path and the working directory so that it points to the appropriate file on the Windows 2000 computer.

    The key bindings in the MS-DOS-based program should now work.

Method 3

  1. Use the 16-bit PIF Editor tool from Microsoft Windows 3.1, and copy the executable and the help files (Pifedit.exe, and Pifedit.hlp) to the Windows 2000 computer.
  2. Open PIF Editor, and then fill in the necessary information for the location, and working directory of the executable.
  3. Under Reserve Shortcut Keys in PIF Editor, click to select the PrtSc, and Alt+PrtSc check boxes.
  4. Save the .pif file, and then exit PIF Editor.
  5. Right-click the .pif file, click Properties, and then click the Misc tab.
  6. Click to clear the reserved-key check boxes (PrtSc and Alt+PrtSc) to redirect the PRINT SCREEN operation to the default printer of the active command window.
NOTE: You can only create the .pif file with the 16-bit PIF Editor once, and you cannot modify it again by using the editor. After you create the .pif file, and then modify it by using the Windows Properties dialog box, the .pif file is too large to open with the 16-bit PIF Editor tool. If you try to do so, you receive the following error message:
PIF is too large to load. Check to ensure the file is a PIF.
Microsoft has confirmed that this is a problem in the Microsoft products that are listed at the beginning of this article.
Print Screen Windows 2000 MS-DOS DOS Application PrtScn PIF

Article ID: 269039 - Last Review: 12/05/2015 21:07:33 - Revision: 3.5

Microsoft Windows 2000 Server, Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server, Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional Edition

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