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How to take a screenshot on a Mac

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By Jon Martindale


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Apple MacBook-review-hero1
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

There’s a variety of screenshotmethods available in the newest version of MacOS — including those for capturing a specific window — all of which produce images you can then useto flaunt your latesthigh score or clarify a problem with tech support.

Using keyboard commands

Capture the entire screen

how to take a screenshot on mac applecompactkeyboardusb capture1

Step 1: Press the “Command” + “Shift” + “3” keys simultaneously.

That will save a copy of your screen to your clipboard. You can alternatively press the same combination without the “Command” key in order to save the image as a PNG file to your desktop.

If you’re running the developmental preview of Apple’s upcoming Mojave update for MacOS, a preview of the screenshot will appear in the corner of your screen giving you quicker access to editing tools. You can also take advantage of the new screenshot “Stacks” feature which groups together screenshots.

Capture a selected area

how to take a screenshot on mac applecompactkeyboardusb 2

Step 1: Press the “Command” + “Shift” + “4” keys simultaneously.

Step 2: With your mouse pointer turned into a crosshair, use it to select the region you wish to capture.

Step 3: You can fine-tune your selection by pressing the space bar, which will let you take a full-screen capture or to select an open menu.

Your selection will then be copied to the clipboard. Alternatively, don’t press the “Command” key and your screenshot will be saved to the desktop as a PNG file.

Note that if you have a MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, it’ll give you options on the Touch Bar that include the “Selected Portion,” “Window,” or “Entire Screen.” You can also shoot to save it to a different folder such as Desktop, Documents, or even Clipboard. Another feature exclusive to is to take a screenshot of the Touch Bar display, which can be done by hitting Shift+Command+6 to take a screenshot.

Taking screenshots withGrab

grab-mac-screenshots

Don’t feel like memorizing keyboard shortcuts? Grab is a program that comespre-installed on allMacs and lets you create screenshots directly from the menu bar. The program also lets you taketime-delayed screenshots, just in case you need to set the stage before capturing an image on your display.

Step 1: Launch Grab by opening it from the “Utilities” folder, which is housed within the “Applications” folder.Once you launch it, you’ll see an icon for the programin your dock. If you want, youcan also pin this icon for quick access later.

Grab doesn’t usually feature a window when open, and instead, runs almost entirely from the menu bar.

grab-mac-icon

Step 2: Either use the Capture menu system to take screenshots as you wish, or use the keyboard shortcuts detailed next to the respective command.

grab-options

Timed screenshots

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With Grab, you can take a screenshot of a particular section of the screen, an individual window, or the entire screen — the same three options we previously outlined above. What’s new here is the “Timed screen” option, which givesyou a 10-second delay before the screenshot is captured.

This means that, if you need to open a menu or position your mouse in theright position, you’ve got some time to do so.

Step 1: Open grab as before if you haven’t already.

Step 2: Select “Timed Screenshot” from the Grab menu, or press its shortcut: “Command” + “Shift” + “Z.”

Keep in mindthat your mouse cursor will not show up in the screenshot by default.If you want to ensure it’s captured in the frame, click “Preferences”from the main Grab menu and select the mouse icon from the resulting pop-up window.

grab-mac-preferences

The cursor will only show up when capturing delayed screenshots, which is just as well since you’ll need your mouse to take screenshots with the other options. We still think the keyboard shortcuts are a better way to capture screenshots, but if you don’t want to memorize anything, Grab is a great alternative.

Using Preview to take a screenshot

Preview, the default tool that allows you to open everything from photos to PDF files on your Mac, has more than a few hidden features. You can edit images with Preview, for instance, simplyby clicking the toolbox icon.Preview can also capture screenshots.

Step 1: Open Preview.

Step 2: Highlight “File” in the menu bar.

Step 3: From the drop-down menu, select “Take Screenshot” and then either “From Selection,” “From Window,” or “From Entire Screen,” depending on your preferences.

preview-take-screenshot

We prefer the keyboard shortcut method to this method, because the former is far quicker, but Preview does offerone main advantage: you can choose where yourscreenshots end up. The other options on our list automatically save your screenshot to thedesktop with a verbose filename. Preview opens the screenshot, lets you make a few edits, and then you can save the file wherever you like. If that matters to you, Preview is a solid choice.

Taking and saving Mac screenshots

What happens once a screenshot is taken? Assuming you didn’t just send it to the clipboard, your Mac will automatically time stamp the screenshot with the day and time it was taken, before saving it as a PNG file to your desktop. This is handy for immediate reference, but if you’re taking many screenshots in a row, then your desktop will quicklybecome cluttered withfiles that sportoddnames.

The best solution is to simplymove screenshots to the Trash whenever you’re finished with them. But if you work with numerous screenshots, this may get a little tiring. The good news is that there are modifications you can make viaTerminal commands and third-party MacOS software. We talk about some of our favorites in our guide to thebest MacOS apps.

Take, for example, the Tiny for Mac app. The software will automatically rename your screenshot based on the foremost application window.If you’re using Safari or Chrome, itwill also incorporate the URL and title of the active tab, if applicable.This can greatly help with organization if you’re juggling several imagesat the same time.

Alternatively, if you’re running the preview build of MacOS called Mojave, there are new organization and quick-editing tools you can take advantage of. Screenshots saved to the desktop are automatically grouped together to declutter things When they appear as thumbnails in the corner of your screen shortly after you take them, you can click those images to enable quick-editing through the Markup app.


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