By default, Star Wars: The Old Republic saves screenshots in the following folder:
Libraries | Documents | Star Wars: The Old Republic | Screenshots
You may have checked this folder and found that some screenshots you tried to take are missing. Since launch, screenshots have been fickle, particularly within the game’s cinematic cutscenes… but there are workarounds that will let you get pictures of your characters in their greatest moments!
Why isn’t it working?
You may have noticed that hitting the Print Screen button on your keyboard doesn’t result in a file when you are in a game movie, or cutscene. Nothing is being copied to the clipboard: even if you try to paste your captured image into image editing software manually, you’ll usually see a black screen.
This happens because SWTOR is using its own video memory to render the game and not sharing it with other applications. This is called a “hardware overlay.” It can be disabled, but the game will perform poorly.
It’s also rumored that Dropbox may be interfering with screenshot capture, even if you have turned off automatic screenshot uploading.
There are some work-arounds that will enable you to take screenshots reliably, even in cutscenes, without sacrificing any computer functionality.
Use Third-Party Software
The easiest way to never miss a screenshot is to use third party software to capture the game’s output. Most of these software packages also let you record video, and some even let you stream your gameplay online.
Fraps (the name comes from “frames per second”) is the leading software package for capturing screenshots and videos of computer games. A free trial version is available that is fully adequate for screenshots, although it limits the duration of videos that you take.
You will open Fraps and run it in the background while you play. You may need to confirm that you will allow “the following program from an unknown publisher to make changes to the computer.” This message sounds scary, but it simply means that Fraps is created by a small independent company that hasn’t paid for certification, and that it needs permission to write on the hard drive to save your screenshots and movies.
From the Screenshots tab, you can choose what hotkey you want to press to take a screenshot (remember that SWTOR will also respond, so choose a key you have not bound to any abilities), and choose where they are saved.
You may have the tools you need already…
The Windows operating system comes with alternatives to Fraps pre-installed.
Windows Snipping Tool
Windows Vista and later versions contain a Snipping Tool for capturing screenshots. This tool isn’t designed for games and it isn’t as good as dedicated software at capturing action, but if you just want to take a character portrait, it gets the job done. Search for “Snipping Tool” and open it, then return to SWTOR.
Start your cutscene, then hit Alt-Tab to change active windows to the Snipping Tool. The cutscene will continue in the background. Hit the New button on the snipping tool when it gets to the scene you want to capture, and the action will pause while you select the part of the screen that you want to save.
Windows 10 Game Bar
If you have upgraded to Windows 10, then you have an even more powerful tool available, the Game Bar. With the game open, hit your Windows key and G to open the game bar, and confirm that you want it open for Star Wars: The Old Republic. You will have a camera icon that you can use to take screenshots and a red “record” button to take video. The Game Bar is part of the Xbox App, from which you can edit videos and export (“share”) your videos and screenshots.
- If you are playing with the Steam overlay (which takes some work), you can take screenshots through Steam.
- Open Broadcasting Software is free software for live streaming and recording games. You can record a video of an entire cutscene, but as of this blog post, it’s not a good tool for screenshots.
One last tip:
Hit Esc to cancel out of a conversation or cutscene, and you can start it again for another chance at that perfect shot!