Taking a screenshot is an essential function in any device. Taking screenshots might be required in your professional and personal life.
For instance, taking screenshots is the most efficient way to record information about errors in websites, details you have entered somewhere, bills you have paid, tickets you have booked, keep a record of an email conversation and so on. It is also a quick and convenient way of saving images if you cannot save them directly.
Taking a screenshot on a Mac is easy once you know the various features available to you and how to use them. You can customize how you want to take the screenshot, whether it is part of your screen or a window, where it will be saved, the format in which it will be saved and so on.
Screenshot Your Entire Screen
The first way to take a screenshot on your Mac of your entire screen is through a keyboard shortcut. Press the Command key, Shift key and number 3 key all at once and a screenshot of your entire screen will be saved on your Desktop. The file will be in PNG format.
Screenshot a Selection
To take a screenshot of a selection of your screen on a Mac, you can use another keyboard shortcut. Press the Command key, Shift key and number 4 key all at once and you will get a crosshair cursor.
You can click and drag the cursor around to change the size of a gray selection box over the desired part of your screen which you want to screenshot. When you release the trackpad, the screenshot will be taken and saved automatically on your desktop in a PNG format. In case you don’t want to take a screenshot after using the shortcut, you can press the escape key to exit the process.
After pressing Shift+Command+4, you have a few other options to customize the screenshot as well.
Screenshot an Open Window
After you press the Command key, Shift key and number 4 key, you will get the crosshair cursor. If you want to screenshot an entire window, instead of pressing on the trackpad, press and release the spacebar.
The crosshair cursor will become a camera. This cursor can now be dragged to any open window and simply clicking once will take a screenshot of the entire window. The selected window will be highlighted in blue when you drag the cursor over it.
The screenshot will have a white border and a drop shadow and will be saved in PNG format on your desktop by default.
Reposition the Selection
This might be useful if you want to take a screenshot of a very exact portion of your screen or if you have made an error in selecting your screen. This option will allow you to reposition the selection window.
After pressing the Command key, Shift key and number 4 key, use your trackpad to drag the crosshair cursor over the desired area but before you release the trackpad, press and hold the spacebar key.
While continuing to press on your trackpad, you can drag the selection around to the desired location. Once your release the trackpad, the screenshot will be saved as a PNG file on your Desktop by default.
Adjust the Length or Breadth of the Selection
You can use this option if you are happy with either one of the dimensions of your selection but want to adjust the other dimension before taking the screenshot. After pressing the Command key, Shift key and number 4 key, drag the crosshair cursor to select part of the screen again.
Before releasing the trackpad, press the Shift key once to lock down the top two corners of the selection. When you drag the cursor after this, you will be able to change only the length of the selection.
While continuing to hold the trackpad, if you press the Shift key again, you will now be able to move the top and bottom corners on the right side of the selection while the length is locked. When you release the trackpad, the screenshot will be saved as a PNG file on your Desktop by default.
You can change the length and breadth of the screenshot selection alternatively each time you press the Shift key until you release the trackpad.
Screenshot Tool in MacOS Mojave and Above
A new feature has been added to the Mac versions since Mojave, which came out in 2018. You can press this keyboard shortcut to open up a screenshotting tool with many customizable settings.
Press the Command key, Shift key and number 5 key to open the screen capture tool as a small panel on the bottom of your screen. This tool will have three different options, which will let you take a screenshot of your entire screen, a window or just a selection.
This tool will also allow you to capture your screen in video form. There will be two options in the panel to capture the entire screen or a window as a video. To exit the screenshot tool, you can click on the exit button or press the escape key.
On the options menu, you will also be able to change other settings.
By default, screenshots are saved on the Desktop. However, you can change the location by going to the ‘Save to’ section of the Options menu. You can choose from options like Documents, Clipboard, Mail, Messages, Preview or choose a different folder.
You can also set a timer that will cause a delay of 5 to 10 seconds before the screenshot is captured.
By default, when you take a screenshot, a small preview of the screenshot will come up as a floating thumbnail in the bottom right corner of your screen. You can disable this from the options menu.
The floating thumbnail can be swiped away and dismissed, which will save the screenshot to the last chosen location. Otherwise, you can click on the thumbnail to open it in Markup, where you can annotate the thumbnail easily.
If you right-click on the thumbnail, you can access some other options. From here, you can choose to save the thumbnail to your desktop or ‘Documents’ folder or directly copy it to your clipboard as well. From your clipboard, you can directly paste the screenshot wherever desired.
You can also choose to open it through various applications. You can open it in Mail or Messages if you intend to send the screenshot to someone or you can open it on Preview or Photos to view and edit the screenshot. You can open it in Markup to annotate the screenshot, show it in Finder, delete the screenshot immediately or save it for later.
Screenshot of Touch Bar
If you have a Mac with a Touch Bar, you can take a screenshot of that as well. To take a screenshot of the Touch Bar, press the Command key, Shift key and number 6 all at once. It will give you a wide-length screenshot of everything showing in your Touch Bar at that moment.
Change the File Format
By default, all screenshots taken in a Mac get saved in the PNG file format. However, PNG files can often be very large and difficult to send. Hence, you can change the default file format of screenshots if required.
To change the default file format, you have to go to Terminal, through your Launchpad or by searching on Spotlight. There, you have to type “defaults write com.apple.screencapture type” followed by a single space and then the file format.
You can choose from JPG, TIFF, GIF, PDF and PNG file formats. After this, any screenshot you take should be saved in that format. If it is not happening, you can restart your Mac for the new setting to start.
Third-Party Screenshot Apps
Some third-party apps can make it easier to take and customize screenshots on your Mac.
Cleanshot X is an app that provides a lot of options for taking screenshots. You can capture selections of the screen, videos or even scrolling content. You can hide desktop clutter or disable notifications to ensure that your screenshot is clean and immediately after taking the screenshot, you can annotate, edit, blur or draw on it.
If you want to focus on screen recording, Capto is an app that will allow you to capture videos and then immediately edit, caption and annotate them as well.
You can take a screenshot on a Mac in several ways using keyboard shortcuts in earlier versions and the screenshotting tool in macOS versions since Mojave. There are options to take a screenshot of the entire screen, a selection or a window.
You can also capture the screen in the form of videos and edit and annotate your screenshots. You can take a screenshot of the Touch bar of your Mac as well.
You can customize the screenshots’ default settings, including the location in which they are saved and the file format in which they are saved. Various third-party apps will allow you to customize your screenshots further.
Extra free tools worth to mention
We will do our best to update this small bottom section here that we tried and used. The list is simple and small now but besides our detailed article you have hopefully read above this will be all you need from now.
Lorenzo has been using the internet for as long as he can remember. He was there for the early days of message boards, he watched social media take over, and he’s excited to see what comes next.