How to Take Screenshots in Skyrim

Updated on April 28, 2015

How to Take a Skyrim Screenshot

Skryim begs to have pictures captured from it. While it may lack some other sophisticated details that the best rendered games have in its image quality, it more than makes up for this small loss of photographic detail with a tremendous helping of masterfully handled artistic direction. I don't think there are any other games out there that look this good. In the fewhours I have been playing it, I have taken literally dozens of screenshots—and that's from restraining myself!

So, want to learn how to capture all these gorgeous shots? This guide below will show you how to do the following on the PC version of the game*:

  • How to take a Skyrim screenshot
  • How to take a screenshot without the HUD
  • How to take a screenshot using the Steam screenshot manager

You can click on the images below to see a full-size version but beware: these images are huge! Feel free to copy them and use them as wallpaper and whatnot.

*Note: While the below information refers to only the PC version, RVP has supplied instructions for capturing screenshots on a PS3 in the comments below. Thanks to RVP for the contribution!

Enjoy!

Playing Skyrim is like walking around inside a painting by a great artist.
Playing Skyrim is like walking around inside a painting by a great artist.

To take a screenshot:

  1. Press the printscreen button (PrtScr) which is located in the top right area of standard North American keyboards.
  2. When you take the screenshot, you'll notice a short, one second pause in the game. This will save your screenshot in the game directory.
  3. Your image should now be located in the Steam\steamapps\common\skyrim\ folder, which should be in C:\Program Files\ or C:\Program Files (x86)\ unless you have installed Steam to a different directory. (Mine is just in C:\.)

If it doesn't seem to be taking any screenshots, try checking Users/(username)/My Documents/My Games/Skyrim skyrim.ini file to make sure the bAllowscreenshot function is set to 1 instead of 0.

Just as breathtaking at night. These screenshots show both with and without the HUD.
Just as breathtaking at night. These screenshots show both with and without the HUD.
One of hundreds of interesting locations to take a screenshot.
One of hundreds of interesting locations to take a screenshot.

How to Take a Screenshot Using Steam

You can also take screenshots and save them to your Steam screenshot manager if you have the Steam community overlay enabled. If this is the case, you can take screenshots by:

  1. Pressing the F12 button.
  2. Steam will then inform you with a small pop-up and sound.
  3. You will then be prompted to manage your sceenshots when you exit the game. You can share your sceenshots with other people in your Steam community.

Note: You can check out the help page if you're having problems with your Steam community overlay.

Skryim has a living, dynamic landscape, perfect for a quick vacation from real life.
Skryim has a living, dynamic landscape, perfect for a quick vacation from real life.

How to Remove the HUD Before Taking a Screenshot

If you don't want the heads-up display that shows the compass, text, and stats (HUD) to show up in your screenshots, you can temporarily remove them by: Opening Settings -> Display -> and dragging the HUD Opacity to the far left or by using the console.

  1. To open the console, type '~', the tilde key, which is located in the top left corner of standard North American keyboards. With the console open, type tm (which stands for toggle menu) and press Return.
  2. Press the ~ key again to close the console. (The console will have become invisible because it is part of the menu, so just trust me on this.)
  3. While the console is open, your game will be paused; when the console is closed, your game will continue, but the HUD (and menus) will no longer be visible on-screen.

Now that your HUD is gone, you can take screenshots normally. When you are done taking your screenshots:

  • Open the console again by typing ~, then type tm again, and then close the console by typing ~ again. Note: Although using tm might seem a little more complicated than changing the display settings, I find it to be faster if I just want a quick screenshot.

Meet the pointy end of my stick, traitor!
Meet the pointy end of my stick, traitor!

How to Take Action Shots

You can toggle the free cam on and off using the console to take action shots.
You can toggle the free cam on and off using the console to take action shots.

If you want to take action shots, you have to get fancy with the console. The game doesn't ordinarily allow you to view your character from any angle other than from behind when you have a weapon drawn. This can make it difficult to get a good action shot. (Other than by pressing PrtSc when a fatality cut-scene plays, of course.)

  1. You can get around this by opening the console and typing tfc 1 then close the console by pressing the '~' again. tfc stands for 'toggle free cam' and allows you to detach the camera from its usual position and move it around a scene using the movement keys (WASD).
  2. While the free cam is active, the action will stop and you can spend as much time as you like lining up the perfect shot. When you have the shot lined up, just use the normal methods of taking a screenshot.
  3. When you're done with your shot, open the console again and type tfc 0 to return the camera to its normal position.

Note: You can combine the free cam with the no HUD option and take action shots without any HUD elements as well. Just type 'tm' after 'tfc 1'. The console will disappear, so remember to type '~' again after typing these commands to get back to the game so you can take your screenshots.

Sunset on the far Northern coast of Skryim.
Sunset on the far Northern coast of Skryim.

Capture Cards

Dazzle Video Creator Platinum HD - video input
Dazzle Video Creator Platinum HD - video input

If you own a PS3 or XBOX360 version of the game, the only reliable means of taking screenshots and videos seems to be through the use of capture cards. I don't own any personally but from my research, the Dazzle Pinnacle Platinum is a good starter capture card for games (but not HD movies.)

Below is also a good tutorial about setting up a Dazzle.

 

Video Tutorial: Setting Up a Dazzle

Questions & Answers

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      • profile image

        Eme 

        9 months ago

        How to take a screenshot when playing in window mode? Seems like it does not work.

      • profile image

        J'zargo 

        23 months ago

        How about on mac?

      • profile image

        Prime 

        2 years ago

        I do t have a computer... And I still want to take a screenshot

      • profile image

        Any 

        2 years ago

        I have this one. iScreenShotIndex=2 Should I put 1 instead of 2? Leave it and add the good one? Or delete and replace with the good one?

      • profile image

        mohawkman 

        3 years ago

        I have tried many times to take screen shots with Print Screen. When I tried to view these pictures all I get is an unable to view message. Using F12 does not work for me on my laptop so I changed that button to my HOME key and I still cant do Steam screenshots.

      • toptengamer profile image

        Brandon Hart 

        3 years ago from The Game

        I was wondering how to do this. Thanks for the article.

      • profile image

        kbr 

        3 years ago

        The pause after pressing the prt sc button is coming but I am unable to locate the screenshots in my C:\Program Files (x86)\ skyrim folder. Pls help.

      • j-u-i-c-e profile imageAUTHOR

        j-u-i-c-e 

        4 years ago from Waterloo, On

        Hi geowix999. That's odd. What's your operating system? Is it giving you any warnings? Bitmap files are a pretty standard format. You should be able to open them in any image editing application. I use Gimp. It's free. Just Google it. You can use it to convert .bmps to .jpegs, too.

      • ilikegames profile image

        Sarah Forester 

        4 years ago from Australia

        Handy little guide, thanks!

      • Video-Games profile image

        Martha Howard 

        5 years ago from NY, USA

        great post will try it soon. btw huge fan of skyrim :)

      • profile image

        stefanssi 

        5 years ago

        I built an imperial lady, dark haired,beautiful green eyes, blushy cheeks with the skin tone a bit beij, a dark small tribal tattoo next to her left eye, she is slim as an elf.. and she likes to fight during the day as a restoration mage with all the gear she needs and during the night as a darkbrotherhood sister, she like's bows very much and stealthy kills, because it's in her nature to be called by the others the "death from everywhere, assassin". You've noticed that i said restoration mage, why? Because i never kill directly during the day, NEVER! Only my companions do the bloody-work and i heal them. I really don't do the killings myself during the day so i have to plan accordingly my missions to be during the night so i can actually kill something. Why this gameplay style? Because i thought it could express a personality. Her name is Arkansia. I can tell you more if you want... :)

      • profile image

        A Space Ostrich 

        5 years ago

        Incidentally, tfc will detach the camera, typing tfc again will reattach it. If you add the 1 it will detach the camera and pause the game, to unpause the game you can type tfc 1 again.

      • profile image

        Ryan 

        6 years ago

        how can you get the HUD away?

      • profile image

        Piccianify 

        6 years ago

        So, i need Steam to do screenshots?

      • profile image

        j486 

        6 years ago

        edit the skyrim.ini file, under the [display] section add a line bAllowscreenshot=1 or ensure that is set to 1 already.. use the printscreen key.. enjoy!

      • j-u-i-c-e profile imageAUTHOR

        j-u-i-c-e 

        6 years ago from Waterloo, On

        @Dr.Codfish: Steam\steamapps\common\skyrim\ folder, which should be in C:\Program Files\ or C:\Program Files (x86)\

      • profile image

        Dr.Codfish 

        6 years ago

        what file do you open. Ive taken loads of photos and i can't find them.

      • j-u-i-c-e profile imageAUTHOR

        j-u-i-c-e 

        6 years ago from Waterloo, On

        @Zero: You're welcome! Be warned, though: taking screenshots is addictive. I've been sideswiped more than once by an enemy because I stopped to take a 'pretty picture'. :D

      • profile image

        Zero 

        6 years ago

        @j-u-i-c-e: Thanks! this is exactly what I was looking for. I play with the wireless 360 controler on pc (i know, i'm not a true pc gamer w/o m/kb!) and I just yesterday found out that I can adjust 3rd person camera distance by holding in on the right stick and moving left stick up and down. paired with the free camera console command and the screen shot enabling addition to skyrim.ini, I'm about to have some fun :)

        Thanks!

      • j-u-i-c-e profile imageAUTHOR

        j-u-i-c-e 

        6 years ago from Waterloo, On

        @Grovstock: If you're using a PC version, you do not need a program. I'm pretty sure you need Steam to activate & run Skyrim (I have the boxed version and it runs through Steam), so you can either hit PrtSc to send the image to your Skyrim folder or F12 to send it to your Steam image gallery. The details are in the article if you get confused.

      • profile image

        Grovstock 

        6 years ago

        i don't gett it how to take a screen shot, do i need to downlaod some program for it? what do you recomand then? and i'm one of those who have the game but not steam :P ..... but my happy new year promise was to ... the game when i can afford to upgrade the PC for this game on best way :)

        ( why i whisp ... for my self is that if i tell all about it then maybe i will not gett the chance to do it then :( hahaha )

      • profile image

        zak 

        6 years ago

        there is another way to take screenshots on the ps3. I don't know how yet, but I went through my photos in my xmb and there was a random screenshot of the back of my character and some mountians.

      • j-u-i-c-e profile imageAUTHOR

        j-u-i-c-e 

        6 years ago from Waterloo, On

        @ranjit: I was watching LOTR the other day and was surprised by how similar the environments were. I hadn't seen the movies in a long time. It's obvious they were heavily inspired by the movies.

        @CarlS: You're welcome. :)

      • profile image

        ranjit 

        6 years ago

        you feel like you are in the " lord of the rings "

      • j-u-i-c-e profile imageAUTHOR

        j-u-i-c-e 

        7 years ago from Waterloo, On

        @Misiek: Ah. Good to know. Thanks for the update.

      • profile image

        Misiek 

        7 years ago

        Of course RVP didn't mentioned that this ICO has resolution like 160x120?

        You call "that" a screenshot?!?

      • j-u-i-c-e profile imageAUTHOR

        j-u-i-c-e 

        7 years ago from Waterloo, On

        @nicholei28: You should be able to view them fine in Windows. It's a native format and should be common to all Windows applications. I edit images in Paint all the time. You can always save them in Steam (F12) which stores them as jpg if it's really not working. Or you can dl Gimp or Irfanview or another free image editor.

      • profile image

        nicholei28 

        7 years ago

        so how do you view them I have a bunch of screen shots and they saved to bmps and my windows can't view them any ideas on how to get around that

      • j-u-i-c-e profile imageAUTHOR

        j-u-i-c-e 

        7 years ago from Waterloo, On

        How do you pronounce "^^^^^^^"?

        "Uparrowuparrowuparrowuparrowuparrowuparrowuparrow"?

        Pretty intense. Sounds like a Khajiit. :P

      • profile image

        Wreckus 

        7 years ago

        Like my Skyrim name? ^^^^^^^

      • j-u-i-c-e profile imageAUTHOR

        j-u-i-c-e 

        7 years ago from Waterloo, On

        @RVP: Thanks for the information regarding PS3. I'll make a note of it at the top of the article.

      • profile image

        RVP 

        7 years ago

        Ahhhh, here we go--For PS3--First, save your game looking at what you want to take a screenshot of. Then, copy your file onto a USB stick and open ICON0.PNG on your computer.

      • profile image

        RVP 

        7 years ago

        It is possible to get screenshots on ps3. Save the game when you have framed your chosen shot. Copy save file across to pc and then you have to change some filname type thingy..I read it somewhere the other day and cnt find i now but just to let you know..It's possible

      • j-u-i-c-e profile imageAUTHOR

        j-u-i-c-e 

        7 years ago from Waterloo, On

        @mobias: I take screenshots almost every time I play. It really is a beautiful game.

      • mobias profile image

        mobias 

        7 years ago from Forest Grove, OR

        Ooooh I really love that last pic. I cannot wait to play this game, I'm sure I will have a whole mess of screenshots as well, throughout all my adventures!

      • j-u-i-c-e profile imageAUTHOR

        j-u-i-c-e 

        7 years ago from Waterloo, On

        @djskagnetti: Thanks for the additional info. Even though Skyrim's HUD is very small, removing it can make the images look a little better.

      • profile image

        djskagnetti 

        7 years ago

        Thanks for posting how to remove hud =) Pics may show up in \Program Files\The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim. If you do not have a bAllowscreenshot=0 or 1 in My Documents/My Games/Skyrim skyrim.ini, copy pasta it under the top (first) line (your graphics card line) and make sure it is =1. removing hud (as listed above) really makes a difference in the screenshots, but may be confusing as it removes All menus, including ~ input menu. follow directions listed above and all shall be fine =)

      • j-u-i-c-e profile imageAUTHOR

        j-u-i-c-e 

        7 years ago from Waterloo, On

        @Nurfninja: Thanks! Not running it on anything terribly fancy: Acer, AMD Phenom II X4 840T quadcore, AMD Radeon HD 6570 1GB graphics card, 27" monitor. I only get High settings.

        @SimeyC: I agree! The music is great, too! It really sets the tone. And the writing and voice acting is a lot better than it used to be.

        @Lou: Glad you got some use from it. I guess the Google ranking explains why this hub has about 10x as many hits as any other hub I have. Thanks for bringing my attention to that. :)

      • profile image

        Lou 

        7 years ago

        Thanks for the tip for no hud pic taking.

        First hit on google :D.

        Cheers

      • SimeyC profile image

        Simon Cook 

        7 years ago from NJ, USA

        Great game so far; superb music, brilliant graphics, great plot....well worth the money spent!

      • Nurfninja profile image

        Nurfninja 

        7 years ago from Earth

        Excellent post! Two thumbs way up, what pretty pictures they are!

        If only I had the PC version. Looks awesome!

        what pc do you run this on?

        Glory to Akatosh!

        Peace fellow dragonslayer

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