How to Screenshot on Mac {Complete Guide}

There are many times when you need to take a screenshot on Mac. But it’s a software bug to report, a pop-up notification, threaded web conversations, or even just a payment receipt you need to keep in your records.

The screenshots taken on Mac are a great tool for sharing moments from your favorite videos, high scores from your games, conversations on social networks like Twitter or Facebook, bugs you want to report, and almost anything and everything you see on your screen.

The best part of it all is that capturing your screen is super simple to do. If you are new to the Apple operating system. You might notice that there is no “Screenshot” button on your keyboard.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t do it as a click of a button. Using various combinations of keyboard shortcuts, you can easily capture a screenshot of the entire display and everything on it.

You can simply drag a box around the specific area you want to screenshot. There are a number of different ways in which you can capture a  screenshot on Mac OS.

All of which produce customized cropped images you can then use as you like. Here’s a guide on how to take a screenshot on a Mac.

Keystrokes to remember for taking Screenshot on Mac

First, let’s take a look at the keyboard combinations you need to use in order to capture screenshot on Mac. The keystrokes for taking a screenshot are multiple keys that should be pressed together.

When this happens, press and hold the first key, and then the second, and so forth, and then immediately release all keys, after pressing the final one in the sequence.

The following are the keystrokes to remember for taking Screenshot on Mac:

Command+Shift+3 when pressed in combination or when you press all the three keys at once, the Mac desktop will flash and you will hear a camera shutter sound.

That’s when the screenshot will appear on your desktop as a .png file format this allows you to capture the entire screen.

You can also take a screenshot of the part of your screen by pressing Command+Shift+4 instead. Doing this will turn your mouse cursor into a crosshair icon. Click and drag to select the part of your screen you want capturing.

Release the mouse button and the screenshot will be saved as a .png file on your desktop. To cancel the screenshot, press the ESC key.

This combination temporarily replaces your mouse cursor with a select tool and returns to normal after that selection.

Screen Shot On Mac Compress 600x350

Control key added at the beginning of either of the sequences saves the image to the clipboard temporarily instead of to a permanent image file.

This allows you to copy and paste what you like on the screen into an external app like Excel or PowerPoint. If you don’t use the Control key, the Mac device saves the keystroke captures to your desktop by default.

While capturing images this way, you won’t be seeing any system or app notifications to verify.

Instead, the system just plays that photo-shutter sound. To view the saved files, you will have to either open ‘Finder’ or minimize your windows to search the images saved on the desktop.

The Mac OS X traditionally saved keyboard generated screenshot images as tagged image file format (TIFF) files.

1. Grab Utility Tool

It switched to the Portable Document Format (PDF) starting in the 10.2 release of OS X. And by 10.6, to Portable Network Graphics (PNG) files. So, therefore, while the keystrokes let you get a quick capture from the screen.

They have limited options for what kind of data you are capturing. This is where the Grab utility function comes in.

Next, let’s take a look at how to use Grab, including how to capture a specific window and how to time the screen capture to include things like mouse over text or drop-down menus.

The ‘Grab’ tool offers more features than keystrokes when it comes to capturing images from your Mac screen.

In order to open Grab, open your Finder, and click Applications under Places, and expand Utilities. A grab should be one of the utilities listed here. Double-click to open the app from there in the Finder.

While using the Grab utility, you won’t see an email application window on the screen until you’ve captured something. Instead, you will just have to Grab the icon in your apps Dock, indicating that the app is running.

And then, Grab menu across the top when the app is in the forefront. When you are ready to take a screenshot, click the Grab icon to bring it to the forefront.

With Grab now active, choose one of the following options under the Capture menu.

Grab Utility

The Selection tool, This works similar to the Control+Shift+4 keystroke, in that you need to select a rectangular portion of the screen.

Window tool allows you to When you select this, Grab adds a Choose Window button you can use when you have the window ready to screenshot.

Click that and, then immediately click anywhere inside the window you want to capture. Even if the window is partially hidden by other windows, Grab tool will capture it as if it were on the top window.

However, if any part of the portion from the window that’s off-screen probably won’t be in the frame.

Screen function also works similar to the Control+Shift+3 combination keystroke in that it captures the entire screen as you see it.

Timed Screenshots is the best feature. This allows you to stage something on your screen, and that it only appears when you have the mouse in a certain position, like on a drop-down menu or mouse-over text tips.

The timer is about 10 seconds long, and Grab also plays a beep with one second remaining.
After you screenshot a new image, the Grab utility opens that image in a new window rather than saving it to a permanent file.

If you want to redo a screenshot image, just close the ‘Inspector’ with the same image in it and click “don’t save” when asked. If you need to have it.

Use one of the save options under the File menu as you would in other apps. The Grab utility only saves files in the TIFF file format.

2. Preview Utility

You can also very easily convert a Tiff file or other image file to a different file format using the Preview utility in Mac OS X. Preview tool is the default app for opening images in Mac.

So you can open Preview just by double-clicking the image you want to convert. With the image open in Preview, select Save As from the File menu, and then use the Format drop-down menu in the save dialog to choose which format you want to convert to.

So these are the two options for capturing screenshots on your Mac screen. Both options use keystroke combinations and the Grab utility.

And they are built into Mac OS X. The new versions of Mac OS or OS X label the saved file as Screen Shot followed by the date and time. Whereas, the older versions of Mac OS or OS X label the saved file as Image followed by a number, but only if more than one file labeled Image is located on your desktop.

How to save your Screenshot to the Clipboard instead of a File?

If you want to save a screenshot to the clipboard so you can paste it into an app instead of saving it to a file, just add the Control key to the shortcuts above. For example, if you press Command+Shift+Control+3 instead of Command+Shift+3 and Command+Shift+Control+4 instead of Command+Shift+4.

Save Your Screenshot to the Clipboard

You can then use Command+V to paste the screenshot into an application, or click Edit then Paste it in the application.

How to change the folder where your Mac saves Screenshots?

Screenshots taken with the combination keyboard shortcuts will be saved straight to the Mac system with the filename Screenshot date and time in pig file format.

Although, you can change where your Mac device saves these screenshots by changing a hidden setting.

Using the terminal and restarting a system process. For example, you could set up your Mac device to save screenshots directly to a Google Drive, Dropbox or a Microsoft OneDrive folder.

How to take a Screenshot on Mac using a third party application?

There are numerous applications available for taking the screenshot on Mac. You can scour the web or look inside the Mac App Store for any screenshot application that might appeal to you.

Step 1: Click on the App Store located on the MacOS and OS X dock. Which allows you to launch the application.

Step 2: Type the word Screenshot in the search box and hit Enter.

Step 3: Search for mac screenshot applications in the app store.

But be aware that many screenshot applications available on the store that cost money. So it’s always good to see the cost before you download anything.

If you do decide to download an application for taking a screenshot on Mac that costs money and you are not happy with it. You must remove it promptly in order to receive a refund.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that there are countless applications to try. And using them will likely differ from the original MacOS and OS X native process. Example: Lightshot, Apowersoft Screenshot, and Cloud App are the best-rated apps in this category.

How to record your Screen on a Mac using the quick time application?

In order to record your screen instead of taking a photo. Just launch the QuickTime app from Finder or Launchpad and press Control Command +N on your keyboard.

When the black box labeled “Screen Recording,” appears then click on the Record button. And follow the onscreen instructions to finish the recording of your screen.

If you’re a diehard Apple fan and own iOS devices. You can take screenshots with them by pressing the Home. And Lock buttons at the same time. The image will be saved to your camera roll. And you can easily access it through the Photo app.

So, now that you know how to take screenshots on your Mac device. Here are some tips you should know about the topic.

Record Screen On Mac

The files from the screenshot tool are saved to the desktop as PNG files by default. This is not exactly the best method as it fills up your desktop if not managed.

The easiest way to get around this problem is to make a screenshot folder. Which is outlined by altering the default location of the saved data?

An alternative but more time-consuming method of taking screenshots is available at Mac OS X Lion’s Preview application. The screenshot options appear in the File menu and match those available via the keyboard shortcuts.

Experienced users with the knowledge of the Mac OS X. Lion Terminal application can also use the “screen capture” utility to take a screenshot on Mac from a command line.

An easy alternative to saving a Grab file as a TIFF. Formatted file is to copy it first and then open Preview. Then in Preview, click on File and then New from the clipboard.

This will open your image. Which can be then exported as a jpg or a png file to the folder of your choice. However, if you do ‘Select All’ and copy the image. You can directly import it by using Paste or Paste Picture using the Shift key.

You can always change the shortcut used for taking screenshots by going into your System Preferences. And then to the Keyboard area by clicking on the Screenshot section of Shortcuts.

So, click on the type of screenshot you want to change the shortcut for. You can always press a combination of keys to create a new shortcut altogether.

And last but not the least, always be aware of the fact that posting screenshots that include copyrighted information. This could have legal implications.

So be mindful of your right to capture any of the information available on your screen. So make sure when you are taking a screenshot on Mac to pass on to other people.

Ensure that no personal or confidential information is captured within the image.

If you want to change the format of a captured image, you can use a file format converter. For more details, you can read our post how to convert PDF to JPG.

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