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Discover 4 Fast & Easy Ways to Take a Screenshot on Macs


A screenshot, or a screen grab, is an easy and convenient way to demonstrate your Mac’s display to other users. This can be helpful for troubleshooting errors when you lack words to explain what went wrong to the tech support.

way to make screenshot on mac

Unlike Windows personal computers, Macs don’t have a PrintScreen button for fast screen capture. However, there are a few other options to complete this task successfully. Mac users can assign keyboard shortcuts to make certain operations faster. Look at the chart of the key symbols to understand their meanings:

  • ⇧ – Shift
  • ⌘ – Command
  • ^ – Control
  • ⌥ – Option (Alt in Windows)
  • ⇥ – Tab
  • ⌫ – Delete
  • ⌤ – Enter
  • ⎋ – Escape
  • ←↑→↓ – Arrow Keys
  • fn – Function key
  • ⏎ – Return
  • ⇪ – Caps Lock

Adjusting Mac Screenshot Settings to Suit Your Needs

There are several ways to take screenshots on your Mac using keyboard shortcuts. The below methods work for macOS Sierra and High Sierra, OS X El Capitan, Yosemite, and the majority of earlier versions. All screenshots have a generic title Screen Shot (Date + Time) and .PNG format by default.

How to screenshot your entire desktop screen

To make a full desktop screenshot, press Shift-Command-3 key combination. After that, your screenshot shows up on your Mac’s desktop. To open and share it with Preview, double-click on the screenshot. Choose Open With or drag-and-drop the image to open it with a specific app.

screen entire desktop

How to screenshot a chosen screen area

To take a screenshot of a specific screen area, press Shift-Command-4 key combination. To select an area to you need to capture, place the new crosshair cursor where necessary, then click and drag the selection area. If you need a screenshot of a particular size, using the crosshairs will provide a precise pixel count. Resizing the selected area is possible. Using the Option and Shift keys will help you lock the sides of your selected area. When all is set, let go of the trackpad or mouse to screenshot the chosen part of the screen.

choose a specific area

How to screenshot an application window on a Mac

To make a screenshot a particular Mac app window, hold down Shift-Command-4 key combination and hit the Spacebar. After that, the crosshair cursor will become a camera cursor. Place the camera cursor on top of the app window. Once all is set and the window tints blue, click to make a screenshot.

Note: The above method is applicable if you want to screenshot the contents of a drop-down menu.

screenshot of application

How to save a screenshot to your Mac Clipboard

Mac users have a possibility of saving screenshots to Clipboard to continue working with them in graphics or text editors. For this, use the following key combinations:

  • Shift-Command-3-Control – to save a screenshot of an entire desktop to the Clipboard.
  • Shift-Command-4-Control – to save a screenshot of a selected area to the Clipboard.
  • Shift-Command-4-Space-Control – to save a screenshot of a Mac app window to the Clipboard.

To paste the image into a text or graphics editor, press Command-V. Alternatively, you can do this using the Menu → Edit → Paste sequence.

Onboard Apps to Make Screen shot for Macs

This section of our tutorial is dedicated to Mac users who hate remembering all the above keyboard shortcuts. There is a standard tool named macOS Grab – you can find it via the Spotlight search, or in the Launchpad.

apps for making screenshots

macOS Grab is an intuitive app, which offers users a set of four ‘screen shooting’ modes supplied with keyboard shortcuts.

  • Selection takes a screenshot of the selected area - Shift-Command-A;
  • Window takes a screenshot of a Mac app window - Shift-Command-W;
  • Screen takes a screenshot of the full screen - Command-Z;
  • Timed Screen takes a time-activated screenshot of the full screen - Shift-Command-Z.

All screenshots are stored in the Grab window, so it is possible to move them into the needed folder. The app can process several screenshots at a time. It is possible to make a few screenshots altogether to pick out the best one. To continue working with taken screenshots in other apps, copy them to the Clipboard using the Command-C keyboard shortcut.

It is possible to change the default screenshot location, name and file format using special Terminal commands.

• To switch the location for storing the screenshots, do the following:

1. To launch Terminal, go to Applications →Utilities → Terminal.

2. Type in the following command:

Defaults write com.apple.screencapture location ~/Desktop Killall SystemUIServer

All screenshots are saved on the Desktop by default. Here ~/Desktop is the path to the folder.

3. Alter the command to change the storage folder:

Defaults write com.apple.screencapture location ~/Pictures Killall SystemUIServer

• To modify the default names given to screenshots, use following commands:

Defaults write com.apple.screencapture name “Screenshot” Killall SystemUIServer

Here, “Screenshot” is the default file name.

To assign the new name, change the command:

Defaults write com.apple.screencapture name “New name” Killall SystemUIServer

• To alter the default screenshot file format from .PNG to .JPG, .TIFF, .PDF or .BMP, use the command:

Defaults write com.apple.screencapture type “format” Killall SystemUIServer

Here, “format” is the desired file format.

In Conclusion

Using keyboard shortcuts for making screenshots on Mac is convenient and fast. It is possible to use a standard macOS Grab tool as an alternative to shortcuts. Apart from the above methods, there is a variety of third-party applications to deal with this task. It is possible to amend the default system settings for screenshots storage, name, and format using Terminal commands. Make sure to remove the unused screenshots to prevent them from piling up on your Mac’s hard drive.

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