How to take screenshots on your Mac

There are a multitude of ways to take screenshots on the Mac, whether you want to capture the entire screen, part of the screen, or a specific window. You will learn these methods here as well as various other keyboard shortcuts related to taking screenshots on Mac, changing where to save your screenshots, etc.

Capture the selected region

hurry Offset + Order + 4. The cursor becomes a crosshair which can be used to select a part of the screen by holding down the left mouse button and then dragging the part of the screen you want to save. Release the button to take the screenshot.

How to take a Mac Shift Cmd 4 screenshot

Alternatively, after hitting Offset + Order + 4, you can do one of the following:

  • Window screenshot: Press the space bar. This will highlight the cursor regardless of the window it is over. Then just click on the desired window of which you want to take a screenshot.
  • Adjust the individual edges of the selected area: After selecting the area you want to capture by dragging with the left mouse button, keep the button pressed Offset key. This will lock the left, right and top edges of your highlighted area, allowing you to adjust the bottom edge exclusively. Offset while holding down the left mouse button to toggle the edge you are adjusting to the right edge. You can switch between the right and bottom edges as much as you want using the Offset key.
  • Fixed highlighted screenshot area: To fix the size of your highlighted screenshot area and move the square around the screen, press and hold the space bar after you highlight an area to move the area on the screen . Release the space bar and the left mouse button to take the screenshot.

Screen capture options panel

Offset + Order + 5: From macOS Mojave, this keyboard shortcut will bring up a panel at the bottom of your screen showing several different screen capture options, including one to capture the entire screen, a highlighted area or a specific window.

How to take a Mac Shift Cmd 5 screenshotHow to take a Mac Shift Cmd 5 screenshot

On the right side, this panel allows you to choose where to save your screenshots, and also to configure a 5 to 10 second self-timer. This is extremely handy if you need to align certain things on your screen first, which can take a few seconds.

You can click and drag this entire panel anywhere on your screen for convenience.

Capture the whole screen

Offset + Order + 3: If you don’t want to just capture a specific window, but the whole screen, then this is the command you need. It will capture the entire screen from the menu bar at the top of your screen to the dock at the bottom.

Capture Touch Bar (MacBook Pro)

Offset + Order + 6: This one is exclusively for those of you fortunate enough to have a MacBook Pro model with the touch bar just above the keyboard. This command will capture everything in your touch bar, saving the screenshot as a thin strip.

Copy screenshot to clipboard

Hold it Control when invoking a screen capture command (Control + Order + 4, for example) to copy the screenshot to your clipboard instead of saving it to your desktop.

Use Grab

The keyboard shortcuts built into macOS cover almost all screen capture use cases, but they’re missing one thing: timed screenshots and cursor screenshots. This is where Grab comes in. Although it is a limited application, its main feature is to extend the screenshot functionality minimally. Here’s how Grab works.

1. Open Grab from “Applications / Utilities” or Spotlight.

grab-take-screenshot-on-mac-1grab-take-screenshot-on-mac-1

2. Grab has no user interface, just a menu bar. Click on the “Capture” menu in the menu bar and choose the type of capture you want to take.

grab-take-screenshot-on-mac-2grab-take-screenshot-on-mac-2

Pro tip: only “Timed screen” is unique to Grab. The other three modes can be performed with screen shortcuts and modifier keys, as shown above.

3. If you selected “Timed screen”, a pop-up window will appear allowing you to start the five second timer when you are ready. Click “Start Timer” to start the countdown. If you selected a cursor in “Enter -> Preferences”, you will see this cursor on the screenshot.

grab-take-screenshot-on-mac-3grab-take-screenshot-on-mac-3

4. The screenshot you took will appear in a new window. The file is not yet saved. You will need to register it yourself with a name and location.

grab-take-screenshot-on-mac-5grab-take-screenshot-on-mac-5

Using the preview

The last and most secret screen capture tool in macOS is Preview. That’s a lot of what Grab does, only better. It can capture timed screenshots with the system cursor and allows immediate annotation with preview markup tools.

1. After opening Preview, click “File -> Take a screenshot …” and choose a screen capture option.

preview-take-screenshot-on-mac-1preview-take-screenshot-on-mac-1

“From Window” and “From Selection” work exactly like the corresponding shortcuts. “From all the screen” will launch a timed screenshot of all the connected screens.

2. If you have selected “From the whole screen”, wait for the counter to finish.

preview-take-screenshot-on-mac-2preview-take-screenshot-on-mac-2

3. Edit the screenshot as desired, then save it.

Once you’re done taking screenshots on the Mac, why not take a look at some of the best drawing apps available on the Mac. Or if you want to try Android apps and games on Mac, check out our list of the best Android emulators for macOS.

This article was first published in June 2011 and was updated in July 2020.

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