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How to capture a screenshot with shadow on Windows 10

Windows 10 adds a subtle dropdown shadow to windows. It gives them a slight floating effect and allows you to distinguish against items behind them. For the most part, it’s an aesthetic effect and it looks good. That said, if you try and capture a window with this shadow, you will find that the results are always awful. The shadow, when included, brings with it the desktop background. In stark contrast, macOS is able to exclude the background when it captures a window with its shadow. To capture a screenshot with shadow on Windows 10, you need to use Greenshot, and you need to get a little creative.

Screenshot with shadow

Greenshot is a great screenshot tool but it cannot capture shadows when it captures a single window. What the app has is a nice image editor that can add the shadow during editing. That’s the easiest method to get a window screenshot with a shadow included.

Download and install Greenshot. Capture the window that you want. It’s best to use the ‘Capture window from list’ option.

Once the screenshot has been captured, open it in the Greenshot image editor. In the toolbar on the left, click the Effects button, and select Drop shadow. You can click it multiple times to add a darker, larger shadow. Unfortunately, there are no other customization options for the drop shadow so you’re going to have to make do with this.

You can see the drop shadow added to the Notepad window in the screenshot below. The shadow retains transparency so if you paste the screenshot into an image editor, the shadow will not be a solid color however, you must save the screenshot in the PNG file format. If you save it in JPEG or BMP, the transparency will be lost. This is not a shortcoming of Greenshot. Instead, it has to do with only PNG being able to retain transparency.

If you need more control over the dropdown i.e., how dense it is, how transparent/opaque it is, and how far it is spread, you need a tool like Photoshop which isn’t free. You can GIMP which is a free alternative. The UI isn’t as nice as Photoshop but it does the job.

Paint.net used to have a nice drop shadow tool but it seems to have gone away with one of its updates which is a shame. If nothing else, Paint.net is much easier to use than GIMP.

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