How to Take a Screenshot on a Mac

Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Command-Shift-3: Take a screenshot of the screen, and save it as a file on the desktop
  • Command-Shift-4, then select an area: Take a screenshot of an area and save it as a file on the desktop
  • Command-Shift-4, then space, then click a window: Take a screenshot of a window and save it as a file on the desktop
  • Command-Control-Shift-3: Take a screenshot of the screen, and save it to the clipboard
  • Command-Control-Shift-4, then select an area: Take a screenshot of an area and save it to the clipboard
  • Command-Control-Shift-4, then space, then click a window: Take a screenshot of a window and save it to the clipboard

Use Grab or Preview

Instead of using the keyboard shortcuts above, screenshots can be taken by using the Grab application included with OS X. It is located at /Applications/Utilities/Grab.
Preview can also be used to take screenshots, by using the “Take Screen Shot” submenu in the File menu.

Use Terminal

The screencapture command in the Terminal can also be used to capture screenshots, and is useful for scripts. Here is an example.

screencapture -iW ~/Desktop/screen.jpg

Default File Save Formats

Different versions of OS X have different formats for screenshots.

  • Mac OS X 10.2 (Jaguar): jpg
  • Mac OS X 10.3 (Panther): pdf
  • Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) and later: png

In Mac OS X 10.4 and later, the default screenshot format can be changed, by opening Terminal (located at /Applications/Utilities/Terminal) and typing in:

defaults write com.apple.screencapture type image_format killall SystemUIServer