How to take a screenshot on Mac

A screenshot is an image of your Mac desktop screen or an active window. It is the ideal way to show someone exactly what is on your computer screen.
Screenshots on your Mac are great for sharing moments from your favorite videos,conversations on social networks like Twitter or Facebook, high scores from your games on Mac, technical error that you want to report to your IT Specialist,create instructions for performing a task,or even contribute to a blog article.

Regardless of your profession- a student, a teacher, a software engineer or a typical computer user,or a blogger, you will need to take a screenshot once in a while. For instance you may need to take screenshots to prepare a presentation for your lecture, share your games scores with friends or in some cases reporting an issue with your computer to an expert, Luckily Mac OS X has made it much simpler to capture and share screenshots with its inbuilt feature. Simply read through a couple of steps written below and you’ll be an expert in taking screenshots on Mac.


A.) Take Screenshots using keyboard Shortcuts


How to take a screenshot of your entire Mac screen



This option would capture your entire Mac desktop (no matter what is showing on your display screen). You can generally use this to capture video frames, game scores or an error message. Here are the steps to do this:
  1. Open all the windows you want to include in your screenshot, and arrange them exactly the way you want to see them in Screenshot.
  2. Press Command + Shift + 3 all at the same time.
  3. You'll hear a camera click sound, and your screenshot will be saved on your desktop in .PNG format automatically, with the name Screen Shot [Date + Time].
  4. You can now edit and share it with anyone or attach it to your email and send it to someone.
  5. If you do not want to save the Screenshots to your Desktop as .PNG image files but just want to copy the Screenshots to the Clipboard and paste it into a document, hold down the control key in addition to the shortcuts mentioned above. For example, if you want to paste a screenshot of your entire Mac screen into a Word document, press Command-Control-Shift-3, hop over to your Word document, then paste the screenshot where you want it.
How to Take a screenshot of part of your Mac screen

In case you just want to capture a part of your Mac screen, you should follow this step. You can use it for capturing a pop up message,an image on the web, or a part of your chat, or anything else you like.
  1. Open all the windows you want to include in your screenshot, and arrange them exactly the way you want to see them in Screenshot.
  2. Press Command + Shift + 4 all at the same time. The mouse pointer will turn into a crosshair.
  3. Place the new crosshair cursor at one corner of the area you want to capture (for example, top left), then click and hold.
  4. Drag the crosshair over the area of the screen you want to capture.
  5. Hold down Option to change the lock point to the center of the area. Hold down Shift to lock all sides but the one in the direction you're currently moving.
  6. When you're done with the selection of the area, just let go of the mouse button or trackpad. Whatever is contained in the outline generated by crosshair will be saved as a screenshot.
  7. You'll hear a camera click sound, and your screenshot will be saved on your desktop in .PNG format automatically, with the name Screen Shot [Date + Time].
  8. Again you may hold down the control key in addition to the shortcuts mentioned above in case, you just want to copy the Screenshots to the Clipboard and paste it into a document directly. For example, if you want to paste a screenshot of part of your screen into a Word document, press Command-Control-Shift-4, and then click and drag the mouse over the area of the screen you want to capture, then release the mouse button to copy the screenshot in the clipboard.Now go to your Word document, and paste the screenshot where you want it.
How to take a screenshot of specific window on your Mac screen

If you want to just screenshot a specific application window — and nothing else — follow this step.You can use this option to screenshot the whole application windows precisely, no matter which shape it is in.

  1. Open the application window you want to screenshot.
  2. Press Command + Shift + 4 all at the same time and then press the spacebar, you’ll see your cursor turn into a camera and the current window will be highlighted.To switch back to the crosshair, just press the spacebar again.
  3. To change the focus to a different window, move the cursor over that window and Place the camera cursor on top of the window you want to screenshot. The window will turn blue to make sure it's the selected one.
  4. Click to take the screenshot.
  5. You'll hear a camera shutter sound, and your screenshot will be saved on your desktop in .PNG format automatically, with the name Screen Shot [Date + Time].
  6. Again you may hold down the control key in addition to the shortcuts mentioned above in case, you just want to copy the Screenshots to the Clipboard and paste it into a document directly. For example, if you want to paste a screenshot of specific window on your Mac screen into a Word document, press Command-Control-Shift-4,+ Spacebar and then place the camera cursor on top of the window you want to screenshot, then click to take the screenshot. Now go to your Word document, and paste the screenshot where you want it.
Additional Controls while taking Screenshot

When you've selected the area you want, release your mouse or trackpad button.
Just like you add the control key to any of the combinations above (for example, command+control+shift+4), the image will be copied to the clipboard instead of being saved in the default location (desktop), Similarly there are other additional controls that you cold add to the initial shortcut to perform desired task.
  • Pressing shift with initial shortcuts will lock your adjustments to either the X or Y axis only (depending on how you’re moving the mouse when you press it).
  • Pressing the option key will scale the selected area from the center, instead of from where you first clicked. 
  • Holding the spacebar after selecting an area of the screen will let you move the selection while locking the aspect ratio
  • To cancel the screenshot mode, press the Escape (esc) key before you release the button.
B.) Take Screenshot Using Grab Utility In Mac.

Grab is an app for Mac OS X that lets you take screenshots of your screen. It supports capturing the entire window, the entire screen, or only a portion of your screen.Grab has a few extra advantages over keyboard shortcuts: timed screen captures, screenshot preview and saving to a specific folder.Here are the steps to take screenshots using Grab utilities.


Open Grab utilities from Applications > Utilities folder. It opens with no specific window but a number of menu options on top.You'll need to use Capture menu to take the screenshot.



How to take a screenshot on Mac
How to take a screenshot on Mac
In the Capture menu, you have four options Screen, Selection, Window, and Timed Screen.The fourth option Timed Screen allows you to take a screenshot 10 seconds after pushing the Start Timer button. This is useful for capturing events wherein you want the menu, tool-tips and the mouse cursor on a certain place.

Take a screenshot of the Selection of the screen



How to take a screenshot on Mac
How to take a screenshot on Mac
Open Grab Utility and Click Capture > Selection, the mouse pointer will turn into x- and y-coordinates indicator and will show you the pointer’s location on the screen. 


How to take a screenshot on Mac
How to take a screenshot on Mac
Click and drag the pointer over the area you want to capture.Release the mouse button and the capture will open in a new window that you can save on your computer.

Select "File" > "Save" from the top menu once the preview of your screenshot appears.


Take a screenshot of a specific window on your Mac screen

Open Grab Utility and Click Capture > Window, A prompt will appear asking you to select the window you want to capture.



How to take a screenshot on Mac
How to take a screenshot on Mac
Press the "Choose Window" button in the prompt window, then click inside the window you want to capture. A shutter sound indicates Grab has taken a Screenshot of the window.

Save your screenshot after the preview appears on your screen


Take a screenshot of your entire Mac screen


Similarly, Open Grab Utility and Click Capture > Screen, a prompt will open instructing you to click the screen when you are ready to capture it. 



How to take a screenshot on Mac
How to take a screenshot on Mac
Click outside the prompt window to take your screenshot. A click indicates Grab has your screenshot.
Save your file after the preview appears on your computer.

Take a timed screenshot


Sometimes, you need a few seconds to prepare for a screenshot—or maybe you wants tool tips and menu bar also appear in screenshot, or you’re taking a screenshot which requires your both hands on the keyboard. Whatever the circumstances are you can capture such moments using timed Screenshot option of Grab utility.


Open Grab Utility and Click Capture > Timed Screen. A small window will pop up, informing you that Grab will capture the screenshot ten seconds after you start the timer. Once you’re ready, press Start Timer.



How to take a screenshot on Mac
How to take a screenshot on Mac
After ten seconds, it will take the screenshot, and show you the image.

C.) Take Screenshot Using Preview.

One advantage of taking screenshot using preview is that the screenshots taken can be saved in any file format ( for example, jpg, tiff, pdf, png, bmp or pict ) unlike Grab which can only save them as TIFF file, and there’s no way to change that. Preview also have all the four options for taking screenshots.


How to take a screenshot on Mac
How to take a screenshot on Mac
To take a screenshot with Preview, go to File > Take Screen Shot and select one of the type of shots you’d like to take .Once the screenshot is taken it will be launched automatically into Preview where they can be cropped, manipulated, and saved per your requirement in your desired file format to desired location.


ScreenShot Timer in Preview
ScreenShot Timer in Preview
All of the screenshot types are captured instantly except the screenshot "From Entire Screen" which causes a timer to be displayed in the center of the screen allowing you to stage all the windows and menus to be captured before the timer runs out.

Once the timer runs out, the screen is captured and launched instantly into Preview.

Note:- If you have multiple monitors connected, each monitors screen will be captured separately,For example, if you had 4 displays hooked up to your computer, you would create four screen shot files.



D.) Take Screenshot From the Terminal

All the above mentioned types of screenshots can also be taken from Terminal. Terminal has screencapture command that can be used to capture screenshots, and is very useful for scripts. Here is the Syntax of the Screencapture command with all the flags that can be used with it.


How to take a screenshot on Mac-Screen Capture Command
How to take a screenshot on Mac-Screen Capture Command
screencapture [-SWCTMPcimswxto] file

DESCRIPTION

     -c     Force screen capture to go to the clipboard.
     -C    Capture the cursor as well as the screen. Only allowed in non-interactive modes.
     -i     Capture screen interactively, by selection or window.  The control key will cause the screenshot to go to the clipboard. The space key will toggle between mouse selection and window selection modes. The escape key will cancel the interactive screen shot.
     -m      Only capture the main monitor, undefined if -i is set.
     -M      Open the taken picture in a new Mail message.
     -o      In window capture mode, do not capture the shadow of the window.
     -P      Open the taken picture in a Preview window.
     -s      Only allow mouse selection mode.
     -S      In window capture mode, capture the screen instead of the window.
     -t      <format> Image format to create, default is png (other options include pdf, jpg, tiff and other formats).
     -T      <seconds> Take the picture after a delay of <seconds>, default is 5.
     -w      Only allow window selection mode.
     -W      Start interaction in window selection mode.
     -x      Do not play sounds.
     -a      Do not capture attached windows.
     -r      Do not add screen dpi meta data to captured file.
     files   where to save the screen capture, 1 file per screen

Now in order to use any of the above commands, first open the terminal from Utilities folder and then try one of the above mentioned commands.Try one of the most basic command to take the screenshot of the entire screen.


screencapture testshot.jpg



it’ll take a screenshot of your entire screen and name it ‘testshot.jpg’, which is by default saved in the current working Terminal directory that is normally your home folder. You can always specify another location by adding the desired path in the end.

Look at the following command,it will take the screenshot of the currently active window and save it to the Desktop with the name screen.jpg.


screencapture -iW ~/Desktop/screen.jpg

The following command will take the screenshot of the entire screen after a delay of 10 seconds.

screencapture -T 10 ~/Desktop/screenshot.png

Copy the Screen Shot to the Clipboard directly


The following command takes the screenshot of the entire screen and send it to the clipboard rather than saving onto the desktop.


screencapture -c 


Take a Silent Screen Shot without any shutter sound


Try the following command in terminal.This will take the screenshot f the entire screen silently without any shutter sound and name it silentshot.jpg.


screencapture -x silentshot.jpg


What if you have to combine two commands and use more than one flag together.For example, if you have to take a silent screenshot of the entire screen in PDF format after a delay of 10 seconds and open the screenshot in Preview immediately after being taken, you will type the following command in terminal.



screencapture -xt pdf -T 10 -P

Customizing the default Screenshots settings with the Terminal 

No matter how you take the screenshots, take it from the terminal commands or take it using keyboard shortcuts they all have a default behaviors set by Mac OS X.For example, All the screen shots are saved in .PNG file format or whenever you take the screenshot from the keyboard shortcuts they are always saved to the Desktop by default. 


You can use the terminal commands to change some of these behaviors of screenshots which could be very useful in writing script or developing an App. To get started, open up the Terminal app from Utilities folder and use one of the following commands.These commands must be followed by " killall SystemUIServer "- command for the changes to take effect.

1. Change the Location to save screenshots


By default, your screenshots are saved to your desktop.If you are a blogger or a writer and you tend to take a lots of screenshots then this practice will make your desktop look messy and untidy.You would like to save your screenshots in a folder to another location.Use the following command to change the default location to save the screenshots. 


defaults write com.apple.screencapture location [path of the folder] 

killall SystemUIServer

For example,

defaults write com.apple.screencapture location ~/Pictures/MacScreenshots/

2. Change the Screenshot File Format


 All the screen shots are saved default in .PNG file format, but you can change the default formats to pdf,jpg, tiff, png, bmp or pict. Use the following command to change the default screenshot file type.


defaults write com.apple.screencapture type [type of file format] 

killall SystemUIServer

For example,

defaults write com.apple.screencapture type pdf 

3. Disable the shadow around the window 


Whenever you take the screenshots of a single application window, OS X will append a small shadow around the border of the window.If you do not wish to have the border shadowed then try the following command.


defaults write com.apple.screencapture disable-shadow -bool true 

killall SystemUIServer

4. Change the Default Filename prefix for screenshots


Screenshots taken by OS X are by default always named with prefix Screen Shot, like “Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 05.25.27." To change the default filename prefix , type the following command.


defaults write com.apple.screencapture name [Filename Prefix

killall SystemUIServer

For example, 

defaults write com.apple.screencapture name "MacScreenCapture"

If you enter “
MacScreenCapture” as the [Filename Prefix] variable (use double quotes with the prefix), your screenshots will now have filenames like “MacScreenCapture 2016-04-05 at 05.25.27.

How would you capture the full web page screenshot for long web pages?
Obviously, you will not be able to take the screenshot of the full web page using Mac OS X Keyboard shortcuts or preview as they only capture whatever is shown to the screen whereas a long web page can not be fit to the screen and you will need to scroll it.But don't worry taking screenshot of long web page is also possible with the help of third party tool.There are various paid and free tool. Snagit is one of the famous paid software compatible for both Mac and windows which can take the screenshots of a long web page.Again , I have never paid for such software as I can get my work done with the free one.Google Chrome has a free extension named Full Page Screen Capture that you can use to capture the screenshot of the full long web page.If you don't want to use Chrome then simply use Free Online Web Capture tool, where you just need to enter the URL of the web page you want to take the screenshot of and click Capture Web Page, it will convert the page into an image and you will be presented with an option to download the screenshot of this web page.The best thing about this free online capture tool is that, it free and can be used anywhere.

Look at the screenshot of Web-Capture.net that I captured by its own.

Take screenshot of Long Web Page
Take screenshot of Long Web Page



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About Nasir Sohail

Nasir Sohail is a a technology enthusiast and blogger.He loves to solve complex computer problems and then post the solution to his blog to help people solve their own computer's problem and save time and money.He has more than 10 Years of experience in providing solutions for Windows and Mac.
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