How To Make A Screenshot of the Lock Screen in Windows 8.1 (and 10!)

Windows 8.1 Lock ScreenI’m not a “geek” by any stretch of the imagination.  At least I don’t think I am.

But I use my computer A LOT and I sometimes have to do rather “geeky” types of things.

If I can’t figure out how to do something, or when something that should be “logical” doesn’t work the way it should, I resort to Google to find a quick solution.

I recently found myself needing to make a screenshot of the Windows lock screen on my laptop.  I thought that my usual method of pressing “Win + Print Screen” would work and was dismayed when nothing happened.  WTF?

I’m running Windows 8.1 on an HP laptop and initially thought that this was yet another quirk of Microsoft’s progress.  What I discovered is that the logon screen and lock screen run in a secure area of the operating system called the “Winlogon Desktop.”

My research indicated two methods for getting around this restriction.  The first, using freeware called the Ease Of Access Replacer seemed like it would be extremely easy.  But repeated attempts to download the tiny program ended in failure.  Weird.

The second involved downloading two pieces of software but I was intimidated by the instructions which included used of the Command Prompt.  I needn’t have been frightened by this as it turned out to be quite easy.

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The first tool you need is a part of the Sysinternals Suite.  Download PsTools here, unzip the download and copy the application PsExec.exe into the “C:\Windows\System32” directory.  What this tool does is let you execute programs on a remote system, such as the Winlogon Desktop.

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The second program needed is a free screenshot utility called FastStone Capture.  Download the portable version here, unzip, and place it in an accessible location such as the C drive for easy access.

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You now need to open the command prompt with administrative rights.  You can right-click on the Start button or press “Win + X” and select “Command Prompt (Admin)” from the list.

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Enter the following command, substituting the path to FSCapture.exe:

     psexec –xs PathToFSCapture

The command will look something like this:

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When you press “Enter”, this command will tell the PsExec application to launch the FSCapture program on the local Winlogon Desktop (switch “-x”) and launch it as the system user account (switch “-s”).

Now lock your desktop by using the “Win + L” shortcut.  The Windows logon screen will come up.  Presssing “Alt + Tab” reveals the FSCapture window.

To take a screenshot of the lock screen, simply click on the “full screen screenshot” button.  Once you’ve done that, FSCapture will open that shot in its editor and you can now save the file.  Save it to a different location, i.e. not the C drive.

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You can now close FSCapture and log back into Windows.

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Voila!

This method also works perfectly using the exact same steps in the Windows (10) Technical Preview:

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See!  That wasn’t overly geeky, was it?


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