How to Find and Recover Deleted Screenshots on Windows

Joel Lockard
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Recover deleted screenshots on Windows

Being able to take a screenshot is a feature that allows us to save important information or simply just share something easily and quickly. It’s an efficient and effortless way to capture what is being displayed on our computer at the moment.

Sometimes a screenshot can disappear or be deleted from our computer and we may not be able to locate it anymore. Knowing how to find and recover deleted screenshots will resolve the question of, “Where did the screenshot that I just took go?”.

Where are my screenshots saved after taking them?

First, we need to look at the numerous ways that a screenshot can be taken as they all save to different locations. Knowing where they’re saved after they have been taken, will allow us to be able to locate them each time. Listed below are some of the most popular ones that you can use for free and that come installed on most versions of Windows.

Snipping Tool

If you use the Snipping Tool to take your screenshots, then you’re able to decide upon taking the screenshot where you would like to save it. Keep in mind that this method is being phased out and eventually won’t be available anymore. It will get the job done but the interface is old and outdated matching the more vintage style of Windows from years past.

Snipping tool interface

Snip & Sketch

This is the newest method added by Microsoft and surpasses the Snipping Tool with a modern interface and a much more elegant design. It does away with the typical menu bar that consists of “File”, “Edit”, and other drop-down menu names in favor of icons that represent the same actions. When you use this method, it has a similar process to that of the Snipping Tool. After the screenshot has been taken, you will have to save it to your computer by clicking on the “Floppy Drive” icon.

Snip and Sketch program

Keyboard shortcut using Snip & Sketch (Windows Key + Shift + S)

On windows, you can use the handy keyboard shortcut to take a screenshot whenever you want no matter what app you’re currently in. Simply press, “Windows Key + Shift + S” and you will then have a Snip & Sketch cursor popup where you can drag and let go to decide what area of your screen you would like to capture. With this method, you will have to click the “Floppy Drive” icon and choose where to save the screenshot.

Windows Print Screen Shortcut

Most Windows computers will come installed with the “PrtScn” (Print Screen) button placed directory on the keyboard. This allows you to take a screenshot of your entire screen which will then save it to your clipboard. If you want to then interact with the screenshot, you can paste it into a compatible app such as Microsoft Paint, WordPad, Microsoft Word, or Google Docs. If the app can support images being uploaded or pasted into them, it should be able to accept the screenshot from the “PrtScn” function. You can view your clipboard by clicking the buttons “Windows Key + V” if you have taken multiple screenshots and want to reference them.

Windows Key + Print Screen

If you want to take a picture of your screen and have it automatically saved to your computer, you can do that too. Pressing the “Windows Key + PrtScn” buttons will save the image right to your machine. Windows will create a folder for you within “Pictures” called “screenshots” and they will appear there. Keep in mind that they won’t have an easily searchable name and it will be something along the lines of “screenshot (1)” which might make it harder to recover the screenshot at a later date.

When taking a screenshot it is a good idea to give it a name then so when it comes time to retrieve it at a later date, searching for it will be a much easier process.

How to search for screenshots on Windows

Even if you’re the best screenshot namer in the world there are chances that you might still lose the file and not be able to find it on your computer. Luckily, Windows has an awesome way to view your previously taken screenshots by searching for them in “File Explorer” which comes built right into the operating system.

Step 1. Open File Explorer.

Step 2. From within File Explorer, choose “This PC” and then you can type what you’re looking for into the “Search This PC” box. I choose to use “This PC” so that it will explore my entire Windows machine. If you know the folder you want to find the previous screenshots from, you can elect to search just that one folder.

Pro Tip: The search results will compile faster for you if you know what folder you’re trying to find the screenshot in.

using file explorer on windows

Step 3. Type in the name of the screenshot that you’re looking for.

I always forget to name my screenshots, so I can just search for them by “screenshot” and that will retrieve all of the screenshots under that name.

Search for screenshots

File Explorer is packed with detail as well. I can see the name of my screenshot, the path of where it is on my PC, the date that I took it, and what image type that it is. Super useful if I knew the date that I took it as I could just filter by that.

How to recover screenshots that you have deleted from your Windows machine

If after looking through the search results in the section above you can’t find your screenshot and you think to yourself, “Did I delete that?”. Don’t worry! There are ways to recover screenshots that have already been deleted.

  • First, check the Recycle Bin to see if you put it in there as it may have not been emptied yet. If you find it there, you can simply right-click on it and choose “restore” which will recover the screenshot and put it back onto your computer.
  • Second, if you backup your windows machine to an external hard drive check there as the file should be recoverable depending on how often you perform backups.

If you can’t recover your screenshots using either of the methods mentioned above, Disk Drill can recover files from your trash even after you have recycled it.

Step 1. Download and install Disk Drill for Windows.

Keep in mind that when installing Disk Drill, you will have the best chance of recovery by installing it onto an external device such as a hard drive or thumb drive. We want to lower wear and tear on the storage device that we’re trying to recover data from so that the data on it is not overwritten.

Step 2. Scan your Windows computer to recover the deleted screenshots.

Scan the drives

To start a scan, click on the “Search for lost data” option in the lower left-hand corner of the screen.

Step 3. Review found items from during the scan.

Review the found files

Step 4. Search your results by name.

search for screenshots

Step 5. Select what you would like to recover.

Select the screenshots to recover

Step 6. Select the path for recovery.

Select the path for recovery

Step 7. Recovery has been completed.

screenshots have been recovered

free data recovery software Disk Drill for Windows & macOS Free Download

Knowing how to recover lost screenshots will allow you to not have to worry about trying to figure out how to get them back if they have been accidentally deleted from your machine. Using the steps above, you can ensure a successful data recovery of your lost screenshots.

Joel Lockard
Joel Lockard has had a love for technology his whole life. He works as a flight instructor and when not flying spends his time tinkering with technology especially Apple-related tech and Mac apps. He is always looking to make his Mac experience the most productive and unique.
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12 years of experience in software development, database administration, and hardware repair.