How to Screenshot on Mac: A Quick Guide

If you’ve ever wondered how to take a screenshot on a Mac, it’s actually pretty simple. There are multiple methods to capture your screen, whether it’s the entire display, a specific window, or just a selected area. Let’s dive right in and learn all the ways you can screenshot on a Mac.

Using Keyboard Shortcuts

One of the quickest methods to take a screenshot on a Mac involves using keyboard shortcuts.

These shortcuts enable you to capture the entire screen, a selected portion of the screen, or a specific window.

Capture the Entire Screen

Press Command (⌘) + Shift + 3.

This will take a snapshot of your entire screen.

The screenshot will be saved to your desktop by default.

Capture a Selected Portion of the Screen

Press Command (⌘) + Shift + 4.

Your cursor will turn into a crosshair.

Click and drag to select the area you want to capture.

When you release the mouse button, the screenshot will be saved to your desktop.

Capture a Specific Window

Press Command (⌘) + Shift + 4, then press the Spacebar.

Your cursor will turn into a camera icon.

Hover the camera icon over the window you want to capture.

Click to take the screenshot, which will be saved to your desktop.

Using the Screenshot Utility

The macOS includes a built-in Screenshot utility for more options.

This tool provides a user-friendly interface for capturing your screen.

To access it, press Command (⌘) + Shift + 5.

Screenshot Utility Interface

The Screenshot utility allows you to capture the entire screen, a selected portion, or a specific window.

It also offers options to record your screen.

A floating control bar will appear at the bottom of your screen.

Capture Options

The Screenshot utility offers three capture options:

Option Description
Capture Entire Screen Click this option to capture the entire screen.
Capture Selected Window Click this option, then select the window you want to capture.
Capture Selected Portion Click this option, then click and drag to select the area you want to capture.

Recording Options

If you need to record your screen, the Screenshot utility provides two options:

Option Description
Record Entire Screen Click this option to start recording your entire screen.
Record Selected Portion Click this option, then select the area you want to record.

Click the “Capture” button to take your screenshot or the “Record” button to start recording.

Using Preview

The Preview application on your Mac also allows you to take screenshots.

This method is useful if you prefer a graphical interface over keyboard shortcuts.

Accessing Screenshot Options in Preview

Open the Preview application.

Go to the “File” menu in the menu bar.

Select “Take Screenshot.”

You will see three options to choose from: “From Selection,” “From Window,” and “From Entire Screen.”

Using Preview to Capture Screenshots

Choose “From Selection” to capture a selected portion of your screen.

Choose “From Window” to capture a specific window.

Choose “From Entire Screen” to capture the entire screen.

After choosing an option, follow the on-screen prompts to complete your screenshot.

The captured image will open in a new Preview window, where you can edit and save it.

Using Touch Bar (for MacBook Pro Users)

If you have a MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar, you can customize it to include a screenshot button.

This allows you to take screenshots with just a tap.

Customizing the Touch Bar

Go to “System Preferences.”

Select “Keyboard,” then click the “Customize Touch Bar” button.

Drag the “Screenshot” button to your Touch Bar.

Taking Screenshots using Touch Bar

Tap the “Screenshot” button on your Touch Bar.

You’ll see options to capture the entire screen, a specific window, or a selected portion.

Choose your desired option, then follow the on-screen prompts to complete your screenshot.

Where Are My Screenshots Saved?

By default, all screenshots are saved to your desktop.

However, you can change the default save location.

Here’s how:

Changing Screenshot Save Location

Open the Screenshot utility by pressing Command (⌘) + Shift + 5.

Click on “Options” in the control bar at the bottom.

You will see a list of predefined locations.

Select a location from the list or choose “Other Location” to specify a custom folder.

Now, all your future screenshots will be saved to the selected location.

Editing and Annotating Screenshots

After taking a screenshot, you may want to edit or annotate it.

macOS provides built-in tools for this purpose.

Using Markup Tool

Open your screenshot with Preview or double-click the image file.

Click the “Markup” icon (it looks like a pencil).

Use the available tools to draw, add text, or highlight parts of your screenshot.

Once done, save your edited screenshot.

Using the Screenshot Floating Thumbnail

After taking a screenshot, a thumbnail appears in the bottom-right corner of your screen.

Click the thumbnail to open the screenshot in the Markup tool.

Edit your screenshot using the available tools.

Click “Done” to save your edited image, or share it directly from the Markup window.

Advanced Tips and Tricks

Taking screenshots on a Mac offers various customization options.

These tips and tricks can help you get the most out of your screenshot-taking capabilities.

Using Terminal to Change File Format

By default, screenshots are saved in PNG format.

You can change the format by using Terminal.

Open Terminal from the “Utilities” folder.

Type the following command to change the format to JPG:

defaults write type jpg

Press Enter and restart your Mac.

Screenshots will now be saved in JPG format.

You can replace “jpg” with other formats like PDF, TIFF, or GIF as well.

Utilizing Automator for Batch Processing

If you frequently take screenshots and need to batch-process them, Automator can help.

Open Automator from the “Applications” folder.

Create a new workflow and add actions like “Get Specified Finder Items” and “Move Finder Items.”

You can customize the workflow to automate tasks like renaming files, converting formats, and moving images to a particular folder.

Setting a Timer for Delayed Screenshots

The Screenshot utility allows you to set a timer if you need a delayed capture.

Press Command (⌘) + Shift + 5 to open the utility.

Click “Options” and choose a delay time (5 or 10 seconds).

Click “Capture” to start the timer.

This is useful when you need to set up your screen before taking the screenshot.


Taking a screenshot on a Mac is straightforward and versatile.

Whether you use keyboard shortcuts, the Screenshot utility, Preview, or the Touch Bar, each method has its unique advantages.

You can also customize your experience by changing the save location, editing screenshots, and exploring advanced options like file format change and batch processing.

Now that you know all the tricks, go ahead and capture your Mac screen like a pro!