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How to take a screenshot on Mac

Learn everything you need to know about taking screenshots – from the most important shortcuts to the most helpful tricks.

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Almost everyone will need to snap a screenshot at some point. On the Mac, this is luckily made very simple for you, with no need for an extra snapshot program: You may quickly and simply generate screenshots using a few simple key combinations and the built-in screenshot software. In this guide, we’ll go through both methods and then offer you a few additional pointers on how to make screenshots exactly as you want them.

How to take a screenshot on Mac

The most important screenshot shortcuts

macOS comes with four key shortcuts that let you take screenshots on your Mac easily and in a snap.

  • [Cmd] + [Shift] + [3]: Screenshot of the whole screen

When you press [Cmd] + [Shift] + [3], macOS automatically takes a snapshot of your whole screen. The screenshot is then presented as a preview in the bottom right corner for a few seconds. The picture is subsequently saved by the Mac to the place specified for screenshots. This is the desktop by default.

  • [Cmd] + [Shift] + [4]: Screenshot of a rectangular area

If you simply want to screenshot a portion of the screen, use the shortcut [Cmd] + [Shift] + [4]. Your mouse will then transform into a cross, which you may use to draw a rectangle area for the screenshot. Hold down the mouse button and drag the rectangle to the desired size. The screenshot is produced as soon as you release the mouse. Once again, the picture will appear as a preview in the lower right corner. By default, your Mac will save it to the desktop.

  • [Cmd] + [Shift] + [4] & [Space]: Screenshot of a window

If you wish to capture a screenshot of a certain window, there is a unique feature that will let you do so. To begin, press [Cmd] + [Shift] + [4] as if you were selecting a screenshot of an area. Then, once again, hit [Space]. When you move your mouse to a window on your screen, it will now be highlighted in blue. The screenshot will be saved if you click once on the window with your mouse. As is customary, you will receive a preview at the bottom right before the snapshot is posted on the desktop.

  • [Cmd] + [Shift] + [6]: Screenshots of the Touchbar

MacBooks that came onto the market between 2016 and 2020 have the so-called Touchbar installed above the keyboard in some versions. This is a small display with a touchscreen. You can also create a screenshot of this: Simply press the key combination [Cmd] + [Shift] + [6].

How the Screenshot app works

In addition to the shortcuts, macOS also comes with its program for creating screenshots. Apple has equipped this with many useful functions that you could not otherwise access via shortcuts. You can open the program in three ways:

  • Press the key combination [Cmd] + [Shift] + [5],
  • Search for “Screenshot.app” with the Spotlight search ([Cmd] + [Space]) or
  • Navigate to “Applications” > “Utilities” in the Finder and open the “Screenshot” app.

Now you will be presented with a floating palette with various options. In the left two areas, you can first specify what type of screen capture you want to make. To do this, click on the option you want to use to activate it.

The three symbols at the far left symbolize several types of screenshots: On the far left, you may photograph the full screen, followed by photographs of a single window and a discrete rectangular region.

You may record a video of your screen in the part next to it. To capture a video of the complete screen, choose the left icon. Select the appropriate icon to designate a specified rectangular region that will be recorded.

When you choose “Options,” you will be presented with further configuration options. You may choose the picture storage location and set a timer here. Below there are additional specific settings for the screenshots. The display of the mouse pointer on screenshots is very crucial here. In addition, you may toggle the preview that appears after capturing a screenshot. Both options, by the way, apply to screenshots created using the shortcuts.

Once you’ve customized all of the parameters, click “Record” on the right.

The most useful screenshot creation tips

Edit screenshots directly

By default, after taking a screenshot, a small preview appears at the bottom right. If you click on it, you can edit the image directly. Similar to the preview app, you can add markers, insert text, or adjust the cropping of the image here. If you have multiple Apple devices in the same iCloud account, you can even use the iPhone icon to add markers to the photo via touch. Click Done to save the image or Trash to delete it.

Set location for screenshots

By default, your Mac saves screenshots to the desktop. However, if you often utilize the screenshot option, the desktop might rapidly get crowded. That is why it is often worthwhile to change the place where you store screenshots. We discussed it briefly shortly in the preceding section: This is now possible using the Screenshots app and without using a terminal at all. Launch the Screenshots program, for example, by pressing [Cmd] + [Shift] + [5]. Then choose “Options.” Select one of the recommended storage sites or click “Other Location…” under the “Storage location” column. Navigate to your folder and press the “Choose” button. This value is then kept for screenshots taken using a keyboard shortcut.

Hide shadows around the windows in screenshot

When you take photos of windows, your Mac automatically creates a shadow around the windows. Often, this can be helpful to make your screenshots stand out from the background. However, you may want to capture just the actual window. It’s easy to do: open the Screen Capture feature to capture windows in the Screen Capture app or with the shortcut [Cmd] + [Shift] + [4]. Then, while using the mouse, hold down [Alt] and click on a window. After that, the screenshot is generated without any shadows.

How to change the default screenshot file format in macOS

Your Mac saves screenshots in PNG format by default. If you wish to use the JPG format, you may do it with a simple Terminal command. To begin, launch Terminal from the Applications > Utilities folder or using Spotlight Search ([Cmd] + [Space]). Then, hit [Enter] and enter “defaults write com.apple.screencapture type jpg” Then, to restart the Screen Capture app, type “killAll SystemUIServer.