How to screenshot on mac?

Capturing screenshots on a Mac is a skill that, once mastered, can greatly improve productivity and communication. Whether it’s snagging a quick image of a chat, saving a receipt, or creating a guide, knowing how to efficiently take a screenshot can be incredibly beneficial. This section aims to guide Mac users through the simple yet powerful techniques for taking screenshots, ensuring that anyone, regardless of tech expertise, can accomplish this task with ease.

The Basics of Taking a Screenshot on a Mac

Taking a screenshot on a Mac is a straightforward process that’s incredibly useful for a wide range of applications, from capturing your high score in a game to saving an online receipt. Apple has built in several simple methods to do this, ensuring that users can quickly save whatever is on their screen without having to go through a convoluted process. The beauty of taking screenshots on a Mac lies in its simplicity and the options available that cater to different needs.

Using Keyboard Shortcuts for Quick Screenshots

Capturing the Entire Screen

To capture everything visible on the screen, you simply press Shift + Command + 3. Upon doing this, a .png file of the screenshot will automatically be saved on your desktop. This method is perfect for when you need to capture the entirety of your digital workspace in one fell swoop.

Capturing a Selected Portion of the Screen

For more focused tasks, you might not need to capture your entire screen. In this scenario, pressing Shift + Command + 4 turns your cursor into a crosshair, which you can drag to select the specific area you wish to capture. Releasing the mouse or trackpad button then saves the screenshot of the selected portion to your desktop. It’s a precise tool for documenting only the most relevant data or imagery.

Taking a Screenshot of a Window

To take a screenshot of a specific window, the process begins similarly by pressing Shift + Command + 4, but then you press the Spacebar. This action changes the cursor into a camera icon. Hovering over any window will highlight it, and clicking it will capture a screenshot of that window, excluding everything else on your screen. This method is incredibly useful for focusing on a single piece of content without any surrounding distractions.

Utilizing the Screenshot App for More Options

Introduced in macOS Mojave, the Screenshot app brings more functionality and flexibility to capturing screen content. Accessible through Shift + Command + 5, this tool provides on-screen controls for all the screenshot options mentioned above, along with additional features like screen recording.

Recording Your Screen

Beyond static images, the Screenshot app enables you to record your entire screen or a selected portion of it. After hitting Shift + Command + 5, you’ll see options for recording. This feature is ideal for creating tutorials, presentations, or documenting digital processes in a dynamic way.

Where to Find Your Screenshots

By default, all screenshots taken using the keyboard shortcuts or the Screenshot app are saved to the desktop. However, if you’re using the Screenshot app, you can click on “Options” before taking a screenshot or recording to choose other save locations like Documents, Clipboard, Mail, Messages, and even Preview. This flexibility helps in managing screenshots more efficiently, ensuring they’re easily accessible and organized according to your preferences.

Advanced Tips and Tricks

For those who want to elevate their screenshot game on a Mac, mastering a few advanced tips and tricks can significantly enhance the experience. From editing your captures swiftly to customizing the default save location, these advanced tactics promise to streamline your workflow and offer greater control over the snapshot process.

Editing Your Screenshots with Preview

After taking a screenshot, you might find the need to make a few edits, whether it’s cropping, adjusting colors, or adding text. The Preview app on macOS allows you to do just that without needing any third-party software. Simply open your screenshot with Preview and use the markup toolbar to edit your image. From here, you can easily crop, rotate, annotate, and even add signatures to your screenshots, making it an indispensable tool for those looking to quickly refine their captures.

Changing the Default Save Location of Screenshots

If your desktop is getting cluttered with screenshots, changing the default save location might help keep things organized. To do this, open the Terminal app and enter the command: defaults write location /path/; replace /path/ with your desired directory, then type killall SystemUIServer to apply the changes. This adjustment keeps your desktop tidy and ensures all screenshots are stored in a specific folder for easy access.

Using Terminal Commands for Custom Screenshots

For users seeking ultimate control over their screenshot process, using Terminal commands opens up a world of customization. Commands such as screencapture -iW ~/Desktop/name.png allow for interactive selection with a window mode directly saved under a custom name. Exploring the screencapture command in the Terminal reveals various options, from setting timers to capturing specific windows, offering a tailored screenshot experience for those willing to dive a little deeper into macOS’s capabilities.


Taking screenshots on a Mac is a breeze once you know the shortcuts. Remember, Command-Shift-3 captures the entire screen, while Command-Shift-4 gives you crosshairs for selection. With macOS Mojave or later, Command-Shift-5 opens a more versatile tool. Mastering these prompts empowers you to efficiently document and share your screen’s content. Happy capturing!

Fatima Ali is a prolific content writer specializing in e-commerce, technology, social media and crypto topics. With a knack for simplifying complex concepts, she crafts engaging articles on these subjects. Fatima's expertise shines through her insightful and accessible writing, making her a trusted voice in the digital landscape.

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