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How To Add An Arrow To A Screenshot

Hard to find!

I couldn’t believe how difficult it was to find out how to do such a simple thing as draw a simple arrow on a screenshot!

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

I wanted to be able to step people through simple procedures of computer repair. I wanted to take a screenshot during simple troubleshooting, installation and configurations and show people where to click and what to look for and where to look for it. Being able to put a big red arrow right where you want to direct people’s attention would be just *great* — but I was having the darnedest time finding out how to do that on the internet!

Well, I stumbled upon a very simple and easy solution and I thought it would be good to pass along the knowledge here.

First, you’ve got to take a screenshot of what you want to show people. See my post that follows this for an excellent treatment on how to take great screenshots – quick and easy! :)


A Great Little Picture Editor

Once you’ve got a screenshot of the part of the screen you’re interested in and you’re ready to draw your arrow, open up Microsoft Paint. (Note: In Windows7, click the start button, in the search bar immediately above the start button type “paint” – it should be the first result at the top.)

drag picture screenshot into microsoft paint

drag picture into MS Paint (click to enlarge)

Open your picture in Microsoft Paint – I recommend having both MS Paint and the folder containing your screenshot open and side-by-side (see screenshot to the right). Its easy to just drag-and-drop your screenshot into MS Paint and thus “open” the picture in MS Paint. Easy peezy! (I don’t like to work too hard! Do you?)

Helpful Hint: Once you have your picture in MS Paint, at this point go ahead and save your picture as an edited version. Select File | Save As – and name your file something new. For example, if your screenshot is named Pic01, rename it to Pic01_edit or Pic01_arrow etc etc.

This “preserves” your original picture as its original filename, then these “new” pictures will be created as soon as you click ENTER with a new filename. That way, if you make an error (and you will!haha), you can always simply return to your original file and start over! :)


Choose It!

select arrow direction

select arrow direction (click to enlarge)

Identify the area of the picture to which you would like to direct your viewer’s attention and in the toolbar find the arrow shapes. You’ll see several shapes – four of which are arrows (up, down, left and right). Use your judgement to select the arrow appropriate for your setting.

Now, click on that arrow to select it. Now move your cursor to the region on your screenshot where you want to draw your arrow. Notice how your cursor appears as you move it over the picture that you are editing: It has changed appearance to a cross-hairs with a white circle in the middle. This indicates it is ready to draw an arrow. You will use this cursor to create a rectangle that your arrow will fit within.




create arrow

drag and drop to create arrow (click to enlarge)

Make It!

So, do that now – drag and release to create a rectangle. Make it as large or small as you desire. In case you make a mistake (and you will! :) ) CTRL-Z is “un do”. Remember 3rd grade? And you got “do overs”? Welcome back to 3rd grade! :)




Move It! Move It!

Using the arrow keys on your keyboard, you can translate (ie: “move”) your drawn arrow to the precise position you desire for it – you can see I can move it “too high” up and to the right- and I can move it too far down and to the left. My “best” location is centered off to the right.

use keyboard cursors to move arrow

too low and too far left

use keyboard cursor to correctly position arrow

just right

use cursors to move arrow

too high - too far right






Color It!

select arrow color

select a color for your arrow (click to enlarge)

You’ve probably that your new arrow is perhaps the wrong color. Black is the default. Good news, Paint allows you to color your arrow as well. Select the color button in the MS Paint toolbar. Then select a color you like. For my purposes, I prefer red.

Save It!

save your work

save your work (click to enlarge)

Save your work by clicking the icon of the floppy disk.

And you’re done!

Easy peezy!!



…If you found this blog post helpful, please leave a simple “thank you” message in the comments section below and click the Google “+1″ buttons at the top and bottom of this page.

Also, if you know of a better method for easily and quickly drawing arrows on your screenshots, please leave a comment below – I would definitely be appreciative.

Have a great day!


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