How to take a screenshot on Mac

Screen capture is one of the most convenient tools you have on your computer. You can use them to explain with a single image something that might not be so clear with words (for example, some trick in Photoshop or Microsoft Office), you can also use them to preserve an incriminating message or photo, or simply to keep a memory of a session of Zoom special. Although Apple computers do not include the “print screen” key, this does not mean that you cannot take a screenshot on Mac; you just have to know-how. It’s not complicated.

screenshot on a mac

Using keyboard commands

The shortcuts of the keyboard are the easiest and fastest way to take a screenshot on a Mac, whether you want to capture the entire screen or just a portion. By default, Apple’s methods save the screenshot to the desktop. However, if you simply want to copy it to the clipboard, there is a command for that as well.

Capture the full screen

Method 1: press Command + Shift + 3 keys simultaneously. This will save a copy of your screen on your desktop.

Method 2: press the keys Command + Shift + 3 + Control, if you want to save the image to your clipboard.

On macOS Catalina a preview of the screenshot will appear in the corner of your screen, giving you quick access to editing tools. You can also take advantage of the Stacks feature, which groups similar files on your desktop, such as screenshots. To do so, simply right-click on your desktop and they will all quickly be grouped together.

A certain area

Method 2: press Command + Shift + 4 + Control keys simultaneously . With the mouse pointer turned into a cross, use it to select the region you want to capture. When you release the mouse button, the capture will be saved to the clipboard.

Single window screenshot

Step 1: Press the Command + Shift + 4 keys simultaneously so that your pointer turns into a cross.

Step 2 : you can press the space bar and you will notice that the pointer turns into a camera.

Step 3: Any window you hover over will now be highlighted in blue. This indicates that only this window will be part of your screenshot.

This method doesn’t just capture windows: you can save the desktop, the menu bar, the Dock, or even an open menu.

The image you save consists of the window and its shadow on a transparent background (PNG). If you don’t want the shadow, hold down the Option (or Alt) key while clicking to save the image.

Method 2: Press the Command + Shift + 4   + Control keys and the image will be saved to your clipboard.

Use the on-screen marquee

If you’re using macOS Mojave or later, you can load an on-screen marquee that you can move or resize as needed. Provides three capture tools, options to save, show pointer, and more.

Method 1: Press Command + Shift + 5 keys simultaneously to choose the target (full screen, a specific window, or apart) and the resulting image will be saved to the desktop or other location.

Method 2: Press the Command + Shift + 5 + Control keys simultaneously to choose the target (full screen, a specific window, or apart) and the resulting image will be saved to the clipboard.

If you have a MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar, you have options like a selected area, window, or full screen. You can also use it to save screenshots to a different folder, such as Desktop, Documents, or the Clipboard.

Another unique feature of Touch Bar is to take a screenshot of the Touch Bar screen, by pressing Shift + Command + 6.

Take screenshots with Grab or Snapshot

Don’t feel like memorizing keyboard shortcuts? Snapshot (or Grab) is a program that comes pre-installed on all Macs and allows you to create screenshots directly from the menu bar. The program also allows you to take delayed screenshots, in case you need to set the scene before capturing an image on your screen.

Step 1: Open Finder and select Applications on the left.

Step 2: Double click on the utility folder and choose Snapshot / Grab. When you launch Grab, you will see an icon for the application in the Dock. You can pin this icon for quick access. Grab rarely presents a window when open, but runs almost entirely from the menu bar.

Step 3: Use the Capture menu system to take screenshots as you wish, or use the detailed keyboard shortcuts next to the respective command.

“Timed” screenshots

With Snapshot, you can take a screenshot of a particular section, an individual window, or the entire screen, the same three options that we have described above. New here is the “Timer screen” option, which gives you a 10-second delay before taking the screenshot.

This means that if you need to open a menu or position the mouse in the correct position, you have time to do it.

Step 1: Open Snapshot / Grab as described in the previous method.

Step 2: Select Timed Screen from the menu, or press Command + Shift + Z.

Please note that the mouse cursor will not be displayed in the screenshot by default. If you want to make sure it’s captured, click Preferences in the Snapshot main menu and select the mouse icon in the resulting pop-up window.

In general, keyboard shortcuts are the best way to take screenshots, but if you don’t want to memorize anything, Snapshot is a great alternative.

Use Preview to take a screenshot

A preview is a default tool that allows you to open photos to PDF files on your Mac, and it also has some hidden extra features. You can edit images with Preview, for example, simply by clicking on the toolbox icon and it will also allow you to take screenshots.

Step 1: Open Preview and select Applications on the left.

Step 2: Double click on Preview to open the application.

Step 3: When the application is open, click on the File in the menu.

Step 4: in the drop-down menu, take your more on Taking a screenshot and choose if you will do it from a selection, from a window, or from the full screen.

In our case, we prefer the keyboard shortcut method to this method, because the former is much faster. However, Preview offers an advantage. The other options on our list automatically save the screenshot to the desktop with a detailed filename.

Preview, on the other hand, opens the screenshot, allows you to make some modifications and save the file wherever you want. If that matters to you, then this is a very solid option.

Save screenshots

What happens once a screenshot is taken? In the case of the Apple operating system, your Mac will automatically mark the time and date the capture was taken and save it as a PNG file on your desktop.

That’s handy for immediate reference, but if you’re taking a lot of screenshots, your desktop will quickly fill up with files with strange names.

If you’re running macOS Mojave or Catalina, there are new editing and organizing tools at your disposal. For example, screenshots saved on the desktop will be gathered in the corner and spread across the screen.

You can quickly group them together using Stacks (right-click on the desktop and then check Use Stacks ) to order your viewing area. You can even click on those images to quickly edit them with the markup tools.

If you are running older versions of macOS, you can always drag the screenshots to the trash, make some modifications via command, or use third-party applications, such as the TinyTake for Mac app, which gives you more control over your screenshots.