Mac Screenshots: Three Methods to Seize Your Mac’s Display

Screenshots are a handy tool. You can use it to guide someone through a new app, capture important messages, and take stressful photos of your best friend skyping. Unfortunately, Apple computers and laptops don't have a simple print screen key.

However, they do have some keyboard shortcuts and apps that let you get the recording you need. These commands are quick and easy to learn.

Use keyboard shortcuts

MacOS keyboard shortcuts are the easiest and fastest way to take a screenshot, regardless of whether you capture the entire screen or just part of it. By default, Apple's methods save your screenshot on the desktop. However, if you simply want to copy the screenshot to the clipboard, we also offer a key combination for this.

Capture the entire screen

Method 1: Press Command + Shift + 3 at the same time to get an instant shot on your desktop.

Method 2: Simultaneously press Command + Shift + 3 + Control to save the image to your clipboard.

In MacOS Catalina, a screenshot preview is displayed in the corner of your screen, with which you can quickly access the editing tools. You can also use the batch feature, which summarizes similar files on your desktop like screenshots. To do this, simply right-click on your desktop and select Use Batch from the menu to quickly toss them into a group.

Capture a selected area

Method 1: Press Command + Shift + 4 at the same time. When your pointer turns into a crosshair, click and drag to draw a box around the region you want to capture. When you release the mouse button, the screenshot is saved on your desktop.

Method 2: Simultaneously press Command + Shift + 4 + Control. When your pointer turns into a crosshair, click and drag to draw a box around the region you want to capture. When you release the mouse button, the screenshot is saved to the clipboard.

Capture a single window

How to take a screenshot on a Mac

Step 1: Press the Command + Shift + 4 keys at the same time so that your pointer becomes a crosshair.

Step 2: Press the spacebar. The pointer changes to a camera icon and the screen turns light blue.

Step 3: Each window that you hover over is highlighted with a light blue overlay. Click on the window you want to capture and the image will be saved to your desktop.

Not only does this method capture windows, you can save the desktop, menu bar, dock, or even an open menu yourself.

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

Method 2: Instead, simultaneously press Command + Shift + 4 + Control in Step 1 to save the image to your clipboard.

Use the marquee on the screen

If you are using MacOS Mojave or higher, you can load a marquee on the screen, which you can move or resize as needed. It offers three capture tools, save options, pointer display, and more.

Method 1: Simultaneously press Command + Shift + 5 to select your target shot – full screen, a specific window, or a defined area – and save the resulting image on the desktop or elsewhere.

Method 2: Simultaneously press Command + Shift + 5 + Control to select your target shot – full screen, a specific window, or a defined area – and save the resulting image to the clipboard.

Note that on a MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, you have options such as Selected Part, Window, or Entire Screen. You can also use it to save screenshots in another folder like desktop, documents or the clipboard.

Another exclusive touch bar is taking a screenshot of the touch bar display by pressing Shift + Command + 6.

Take screenshots with grave

You don't want to memorize keyboard shortcuts? Grab is an app on all Macs that allows you to take screenshots directly from the menu bar. You can also take time-delayed screenshots with the app just in case you need to set the stage before taking a picture on your display.

If you're using MacOS Catalina, Grab isn't included. Instead, its functions are now in the key combination Command + Shift + 5.

Grab options

Step 1: Open the Finder and select the applications listed on the left.

Step 2: Double-click the Utilities folder and choose Grab.

Once you start Grab, an icon for the app will appear on the dock. You can also pin this icon for quick access later. Grab rarely has an open window and instead runs almost exclusively from the menu bar.

Step 3: Either use the Capture menu system to take screenshots or use the keyboard shortcuts next to each command.

Scheduled screenshots

Grab allows you to capture a specific section of the screen, a single window, or the entire screen – the same three options described above. New is the "Timed Screen" option, which gives you a 10 second delay before you take the screenshot.

This means you have time to open a menu or place the pointer in the correct position.

Grab Mac settings

Step 1: Follow the previous instructions to open Grab.

Step 2: From the Grab menu, choose Timed Screen or press the shortcut: Command + Shift + Z.

Note that your pointer is not shown in the screenshot by default. If you want to make sure it is captured in the frame, click "Settings" in the main menu and select the pointer icon from the pop-up window that appears.

The pointer is only displayed when delayed screenshots are taken. Keyboard shortcuts are a better way to take screenshots. However, if you don't want to remember anything, Grab is a great alternative.

Use the preview to take a screenshot

Preview is the standard tool that allows you to open everything from photos to PDF files (and how to convert them). It has more than a few lesser known features, e.g. For example, editing images by simply clicking the toolbox icon. Preview also captures screenshots!

Preview recording screenshot

Step 1: Open the Finder and select the applications listed on the left.

Step 2: Double-click Preview to open the app.

Step 3: After opening the app, click on File in the menu bar.

Step 4: Hover your mouse over "Take Screenshot" from the drop-down menu and choose "From Selection", "From Window" or "From Entire Screen" depending on your preferences.

We prefer the keyboard shortcut to this, as the former is much faster, but the preview has one main advantage: you can choose where to save screenshots. The other options in our list automatically save your screenshot with a detailed file name on the desktop. Preview opens the screenshot, lets you make some changes, and can then save the file wherever you want. If this is important to you, the preview is a good choice.

Record and save Mac screenshots

What happens when you take a screenshot? Assuming you didn't just send it to the clipboard, your Mac will automatically stamp it with the date and time it was taken before saving it as a PNG file on your desktop. This is handy for instant access, but your desktop quickly becomes a crowded mess when you take multiple screenshots with strange names in a row.

If you are running MacOS Mojave or Catalina, new organization and quick editing tools are available. Screenshots saved on the desktop, for example, are collected in the corner and distributed across the display. You can quickly group them using stacks. Just right-click on the desktop and choose Use Batch to disable your viewing area. You can even click on these images for quick editing using markup tools.

If you are running older versions of MacOS, you can drag the screenshots to the trash at any time, make changes using terminal commands, or use third-party MacOS apps.

We'll talk about some of our favorites in our guide to the best MacOS apps. Take the TinyTake for Mac app, for example, which gives you far better control over your screenshots and how they are captured.

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