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4 Easy Ways to Take a Screenshot on a Mac

In this guide, we walk you through 4 easy ways to capture your MacBook's screen

If your workflow requires taking regular screenshots on your MacBook or Mac Pro, you’ll need to know three common keyboard shortcuts and a fourth if you have a MacBook with a touch bar. One of these techniques is a little newer. You might remember it from macOS Mojave, but rest assured that it has carried over to macOS Catalina if you don’t remember.

Capturing a screenshot is a simple way to share whatever you see on the screen. You can snap a picture and send it to the tech support if it’s an error. If it’s a message on social media, you can capture the moment and share the image with your friends and followers.

Mac’s screenshot tools have always been easy to use yet somewhat rudimentary. You could capture just about anything if you knew the right keyboard shortcuts, but you first had to know what you were doing. Since the release of Mojave, macOS now has a built-in screenshot tool—similar to what you might find in Windows—that allows you to take screengrabs with a button. Here’s how to capture what’s on your screen.

This guide also walks you through how to work with those screenshots once you’ve taken them.

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Taking A Screenshot With The Screenshot Menu

Taking A Screenshot With The Mac Screenshot Menu

Apple introduced the screenshot menu in macOS Mojave, the big 2018 update. Since then, if you’ve bought or updated your Mac, there’s an excellent chance you have it.

If you want to open the screenshot tool, navigate to Launchpad > Other > Screenshot, or use the shortcut Shift+Command+5. You will have the option to take a screenshot of the entire screen, a selected window, or a custom section of the screen.

There are also options to capture recorded video, including the entire screen or a custom screen section. An options drop-down menu allows you to choose where to save screenshots, set up a timer, and other settings.

There’s also a menu labeled “Options.” This menu lets you choose where to save the screenshot or video, how much time you want between pressing “Capture” and the screenshot or video being taken, and more.

On the right side is an Options button. It lets you choose where to save your screenshot — Desktop, Documents, Clipboard, Mail, Messages, or Preview — and set a 5- or 10-second delay so you can line up items that might otherwise disappear when you engage your screenshot tool.

By default, the Show Floating Thumbnail option is enabled, which puts a little preview thumbnail of your just-capture screenshot in the lower-right corner of your screen, similar to the screenshot procedure with iOS. However, unlike your iPhone, you can turn off this preview thumbnail on your Mac. Lastly, you can choose to show your mouse pointer in a screenshot or video.

If the screenshot panel is in your way, you can grab its left edge and drag it to a new spot on your screen.

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Taking A Screenshot Of A Highlighted Section Or Window

Taking A Screenshot Of A Highlighted Section Or Window

To capture a specific part of your screen, press Shift+Command+4, and your pointer will change to a crosshair. Click and drag the crosshair to cover the area you wish to capture. Let go to grab the selected area or press the Esc key to cancel.

If you press Shift + Command + 4 and press the spacebar, your crosshair will turn into a camera icon. You can then click on any open window to take a screenshot of that window. When the screenshot is saved, it’ll have a gray border around it.

If you drag the crosshair to create a highlighted box and then press and hold the spacebar, it’ll lock the box so it can’t change size. You can then drag the box anywhere on the screen. Finally, release the spacebar to take your screenshot.

Similarly, if you drag to create a highlighted box and then press and hold the Shift key, you can solely adjust the height or width of the box. Move your mouse up or down to adjust the height and left or right to modify the width. Let go of the mouse to take the screenshot.

Taking A Screenshot Of The Entire Screen

You can take a screengrab of the entire screen from the screenshot tool or use the shortcut Shift+Command+3. The screenshot will save as a .png file on your desktop by default.

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Note that this won’t capture your mouse cursor unless you enable it in the screenshot menu. And if you have the floating thumbnail option enabled, taking screenshots in quick succession will also capture the floating thumbnail in the corner.

Taking A Screenshot Of The Touch Bar

If you have a Mac with a Touch Bar, you can take a screenshot of it by pressing Shift+Command+6. The image will be saved as a .png file on your desktop.

Change Where Your Mac Screenshots Are Saved

Screenshots are saved to your desktop by default, but you can change that. Open the screenshot tool with Shift+Command+5, or by going to Launchpad > Other > Screenshot > Options. Under the menu section Save to, you can select a new default location, like Documents, Clipboard, Mail, Messages, or Preview. Or click Other Location to choose a specific folder.

Instead of saving screenshots directly to your computer, you can send them to the clipboard by adding the Control key to any shortcut command. For instance, use Shift+Command+Control+3 to capture the entire screen or Shift+Command+Control+4 to take a screenshot of a portion of the screen. You can then paste the screenshot anywhere you like.

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Change Image Format

By default, screenshots on Mac are saved as .png files, but those can get pretty big, especially if you have a large Retina display monitor. You can switch to the .jpg format with a small amount of coding. Go to Launchpad > Other > Terminal and type the following inside the new window:

defaults write com.apple.screencapture type jpg

Enter your password if asked, then restart the computer. Future screenshots should save in the preferred format you specified. Of course, you can always change it back by typing the above command with PNG at the end instead.

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Diekola Yusuf
Diekola Yusufhttps://www.novabach.com
Founder & CEO of Novabach - Yusuf is a Tech enthusiast. Fascinated by Computers and all sorts of Technology. He writes news, updates, walkthroughs, guides, troubleshooting tips, and how-to tutorials on gadgets and consumer electronics.
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