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Screen capture (capping)

Taking a screen capture (or ‘capping’) can be a handy way of saving a picture (or ‘screenshot’) of something you see online or in a message. But people being capped without their consent can be a risk.

Being aware of the benefits and risks when using this feature can help you stay safe online.

What is a screen capture?

Screen capture (also called ‘capping’ or ‘screenshotting’) lets people take an image or video of the screen of a smartphone, gaming console, computer or other digital device. This creates a permanent and shareable file.

Any content you share online – such as an image, text, video or livestream – can potentially be captured, and used or shared without your permission. 

Some platforms and services have systems in place to prevent screen capture on devices you use to access their app. But sometimes third-party apps can override the controls. Also, another device with a camera could be used to take a photo of the screen or film it.

The benefits of screen captures

Sharing content with others

Capping provides a way to save and share a picture or video of the content on your screen, such as a livestream of an event, a funny text conversation or an inspiring post.

This can be useful if you find content on one platform or service and want to share it in another app or a chat or message, so other people can see it.

Learn more about online chat and video chat.  

Collecting evidence or creating a record of an interaction

Screen capture also lets you save an accurate record of content or comments you’ve seen, or a conversation you’ve been part of or witnessed.

This can be helpful if you need to collect evidence to report online abuse or harmful content to a platform’s safety team or to eSafety.

Learn more about how to collect evidence. You can also learn how to take a screenshot on an Apple device, Android device, Mac or Windows PC with our step-by-step guides and how-to videos.

The risks of screen captures

Whenever you share an image, video, comment, livestream or other content online or in a chat or message, it’s possible that someone who sees it will take a screenshot without you knowing.

This means they could keep a permanent record of what you said or did, even if you thought it was online only for a brief time and no longer exists.

The person could share the screenshot with others, without your consent and with no way to control where it goes. This can affect your digital reputation, which is made up of all the things you say and do online. That can lead to cyberbullying or adult cyber abuse if the content is used to embarrass, harass, threaten or intimidate you.

It’s especially important to remember that if you share an intimate image or video or get sexual online, this could be recorded through screen capture without you knowing, then shared without your consent. This is known as image-based abuse.

So it’s always good to think before you share something – ask yourself questions like:

  • would I want anyone to see this in five years’ time?
  • should I change my privacy settings, so only people I trust can see it?

Learn more about consent and digital reputation.

More information

Visit The eSafety Guide to find out more about online services, platforms and games that have screen capture functions or are commonly screen captured.

You can also find tailored information for young people about consent for sharing photos and videos, gaming and your digital footprint.

Last updated: 11/02/2024