How to Take a Screenshot on Mac A Step-by-Step Guide

Last updated 27-07-23 08:55

1. Understanding the Different Types of Screenshots

Before we delve into the process of capturing screenshots, let's understand the different types you can take on your Mac:

1.1. Full-Screen Screenshot (Command + Shift + 3)

This option allows you to capture the entire screen, including the menu bar and dock. It's useful when you want to capture everything visible on your screen.

1.2. Selected Area Screenshot (Command + Shift + 4)

If you want to capture only a specific portion of your screen, this option lets you select the area manually.

1.3. Window Screenshot (Command + Shift + 4 + Space)

For capturing an individual window, like an application or a dialogue box, this option is the most suitable.

2. Taking a Screenshot on Mac

Now that we know the different types of screenshots let's go through the step-by-step process of taking them:

2.1. Full-Screen Screenshot

  1. Press the Command (⌘) + Shift + 3 keys simultaneously.
  2. You'll hear a camera shutter sound, indicating that the screenshot has been taken.
  3. The screenshot will be saved as a PNG file on your desktop.

2.2. Selected Area Screenshot

  1. Press Command (⌘) + Shift + 4 keys together. Your cursor will turn into a crosshair.
  2. Click and drag to select the area you want to capture.
  3. Release the mouse button to take the screenshot.
  4. You'll hear a camera shutter sound, and the PNG file will be saved on your desktop.

2.3. Window Screenshot

  1. Press Command (⌘) + Shift + 4 keys simultaneously. Your cursor will turn into a crosshair.
  2. Press the Spacebar. Your cursor will change to a camera icon.
  3. Hover the camera icon over the window you want to capture and click on it.
  4. The screenshot of the window will be saved as a PNG file on your desktop.

3. Utilizing the Screenshot Toolbar (macOS Mojave and Later)

If you are using macOS Mojave or later, you have access to the Screenshot Toolbar, making the process even more convenient:

3.1. Accessing the Screenshot Toolbar

Press Shift + Command (⌘) + 5 to bring up the Screenshot Toolbar.

3.2. Screenshot Options

Once the Screenshot Toolbar is visible, you'll find various options:

  • Capture Entire Screen
  • Capture Selected Window
  • Capture Selected Portion
  • Record Entire Screen
  • Record Selected Portion

Choose the appropriate option and capture the screenshot accordingly.

4. Saving Screenshots to Clipboard

If you want to paste the screenshot directly into a document or image editor without saving it as a file, follow these steps:

4.1. Full-Screen Screenshot to Clipboard

Press Command (⌘) + Control + Shift + 3 keys together.

4.2. Selected Area Screenshot to Clipboard

Press Command (⌘) + Control + Shift + 4 keys together.

5. Using Preview to Edit Screenshots

After taking a screenshot, you might need to make minor adjustments or annotations. macOS offers a built-in image editor called Preview for this purpose:

  1. Open the screenshot with Preview by double-clicking the PNG file on your desktop.
  2. Use the annotation tools to add text, shapes, or highlights to the screenshot.
  3. Save the edited screenshot when you're satisfied with the changes.

6. Conclusion

Capturing screenshots on your Mac is a fundamental skill that can enhance your productivity and communication. Whether you need to capture an error message, create instructional materials, or share interesting content, mastering the art of taking screenshots will serve you well.

Now you know how to take different types of screenshots on your Mac, including full-screen, selected area, and individual window shots. Additionally, you can leverage the Screenshot Toolbar and use Preview for basic editing.

So, go ahead and capture anything noteworthy or useful with ease, and make the most out of your Mac's screenshot capabilities!


1. How do I change the default screenshot location on my Mac?

To change the default location where screenshots are saved, press Command (⌘) + Shift + 5 to bring up the Screenshot Toolbar. Then, click "Options" and choose a new folder from the "Save to" drop-down menu.

2. Can I capture a screenshot of a menu using these methods?

Yes, you can capture a screenshot of a menu by pressing Command (⌘) + Shift + 4 and then pressing the Spacebar. Hover over the menu to highlight it, and click to capture.

3. How can I take a timed screenshot on my Mac?

Press Command (⌘) + Shift + 5 to access the Screenshot Toolbar. Click "Options" and choose either "5 seconds" or "10 seconds" under the "Timer" option. The screenshot will be captured after the chosen delay.

4. Are these screenshot methods compatible with all Mac models?

Yes, the screenshot methods mentioned in this article are compatible with all Mac models running macOS X or later.

5. Can I use third-party screenshot apps instead of the built-in methods?

Yes, there are third-party screenshot apps available that offer additional features and functionalities beyond the built-in options. Some popular options include Snagit, Skitch, and Lightshot.

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