How to take a screenshot on a Mac

Lost without Print Screen? Here's how to take a screenshot on your Mac

Apple MacBook-review-hero1
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

If you’re coming from a Windows PC to a Mac, you might be wondering how to take a screenshot without that Print Screen key on your keyboard.

Worry not though, as there are a variety of screenshot methods — including those for capturing a specific window — available in MacOS, whether you’ve updated to Mojave or are still running High Sierra all of which produce images you can use for whatever you need.

Using keyboard commands

MacOS keyboard commands are the easiest and quickest way to take a screenshot on a Mac whether you’re capturing the entire screen or just a portion of it — as long as your keys aren’t stuck.

Capture the entire screen

how to take a screenshot on mac applecompactkeyboardusb capture1

Step 1: Press the “Command” + “Shift” + “3” keys simultaneously.

Step 2: That will save a copy of your screen to your clipboard. You can alternatively press the same combination without the “Command” key in order to save the image as a PNG file to your desktop.

If you’ve updated MacOS to the latest release version, known as Mojave, a preview of the screenshot will appear in the corner of your screen giving you quicker access to editing tools. You can also take advantage of the new screenshot “Stacks” feature which groups together similar files on your desktop, like screenshots. To do so, just right click on your desktop (here’s how to do it) and all of them will be quickly grouped together.

Capture a selected area

how to take a screenshot on mac applecompactkeyboardusb 2

Step 1: Press the “Command” + “Shift” + “4” keys simultaneously.

Step 2: With your mouse pointer turned into a crosshair, use it to select the region you wish to capture.

Step 3: You can fine-tune your selection by pressing the space bar, which will let you take a full-screen capture or to select an open menu.

Your selection will then be copied to the clipboard. Alternatively, don’t press the “Command” key and your screenshot will be saved to the desktop as a PNG file.

Note that if you have a MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, it’ll give you options on the Touch Bar that include the “Selected Portion,” “Window,” or “Entire Screen.” You can also use it to save it to a different folder such as Desktop, Documents, or even Clipboard. Another feature exclusive to Touch Bar MacBooks is to take a screenshot of the Touch Bar display, which can be done by hitting Shift + Command + 6.

Taking screenshots with Grab

Don’t feel like memorizing keyboard shortcuts? Grab is a program that comes pre-installed on all Macs and lets you create screenshots directly from the menu bar. The program also lets you take time-delayed screenshots, just in case you need to set the stage before capturing an image on your display.

grab-options

Step 1: Launch Grab by opening it from the “Utilities” folder, which is housed within the “Applications” folder. Once you launch it, you’ll see an icon for the program in your dock. You can also pin this icon for quick access later.

Grab rarely features a window when open, and instead, runs almost entirely from the menu bar.

Step 2: Either use the Capture menu system to take screenshots as you wish, or use the keyboard shortcuts detailed next to the respective command.

Timed screenshots

With Grab, you can take a screenshot of a particular section of the screen, an individual window, or the entire screen — the same three options we previously outlined above. What’s new here is the “Timed screen” option, which gives you a 10-second delay before the screenshot is captured.

This means that if you need to open a menu or position your mouse in the right position, you’ve got some time to do so.

grab-mac-preferences

Step 1: Open Grab as in the instructions above.

Step 2: Select “Timed Screenshot” from the Grab menu, or press its shortcut: “Command” + “Shift” + “Z.”

Keep in mind that your mouse cursor will not show up in the screenshot by default. If you want to ensure it’s captured in the frame, click “Preferences” from the main Grab menu and select the mouse icon from the resulting pop-up window.

The cursor will only show up when capturing delayed screenshots, which is just as well since you’ll need your mouse to take screenshots with the other options. We still think the keyboard shortcuts are a better way to capture screenshots, but if you don’t want to memorize anything, Grab is a great alternative.

Using Preview to take a screenshot

Preview, the default tool that allows you to open everything from photos to PDF files on your Mac (here’s how to convert them) has more than a few hidden features. You can edit images with Preview, for instance, simply by clicking the toolbox icon. Preview can also capture screenshots.

preview-take-screenshot

Step 1: Open Preview.

Step 2: Highlight “File” in the menu bar.

Step 3: From the drop-down menu, select “Take Screenshot” and then either “From Selection,” “From Window,” or “From Entire Screen,” depending on your preferences.

We prefer the keyboard shortcut method to this one because the former is far quicker, but Preview does offer one main advantage: you can choose where your screenshots end up. The other options on our list automatically save your screenshot to the desktop with a verbose filename. Preview opens the screenshot, lets you make a few edits, and then you can save the file wherever you like. If that matters to you, Preview is a solid choice.

Taking and saving Mac screenshots

What happens once a screenshot is taken? Assuming you didn’t just send it to the clipboard, your Mac will automatically time stamp the screenshot with the day and time it was taken, before saving it as a PNG file to your desktop. This is handy for immediate reference, but if you’re taking many screenshots in a row, then your desktop will quickly become cluttered with files that sport odd names.

If you’re running the latest version of MacOS, Mojave, there are new organization and quick-editing tools you can take advantage of. Screenshots saved to the desktop are can be quickly grouped together with a right-click to declutter things and when they appear as thumbnails in the corner of your screen shortly after you take them, you can click those images to enable quick-editing through the Markup app.

If you’re running older versions of MacOS, you can always drag the screenshots to the trash, make some modifications via Terminal commands, or use third-party MacOS software. We talk about some of our favorites in our guide to the best MacOS apps.

Take, for example, the TinyTake for Mac app which gives you far greater control over your screenshots and how you take them.

Emerging Tech

CES 2019 recap: All the trends, products, and gadgets you missed

CES 2019 didn’t just give us a taste of the future, it offered a five-course meal. From 8K and Micro LED televisions to smart toilets, the show delivered with all the amazing gadgetry you could ask for. Here’s a look at all the big…
Computing

Pinning websites to your taskbar is as easy as following these quick steps

Would you like to know how to pin a website to the taskbar in Windows 10 in order to use browser links like apps? Whichever browser you're using, it's easier than you might think. Here's how to get it done.
Computing

Need to combine a PDF? Here's how to get it done on both Windows and Mac

Sometimes juggling multiple files at once is more of a hassle than a convenience, especially when a single file would do. This quick guide will teach you how to combine PDF files on Windows, MacOS, or with online tools.
Computing

Changing a PDF into an EPUB file is easier than you might think

If you like to read on a tablet or ebook reader, you'll find that ePUB files offer a number of advantages over PDFs. With this guide, we'll show you how to convert a PDF to EPUB in a few quick steps.
Computing

Change your mouse cursor in Windows with these quick tips

The standard mouse cursor is boring, so change it! With this guide on how to change your mouse cursor in Windows, you can choose to use one of Microsoft's pre-installed cursors or download something a bit more extravagant.
Computing

Google is giving its G Suite web apps new touches of visual improvements

Your G Suite applications will soon have a different look. Several of the web apps are getting updated with subtle visual improvements inspired by Google's Material Design guidelines. 
Computing

Hackers are scoring with ransomware that attacks its previous victims

Computer viruses are always evolving. In a new one, dubbed "Ryuk," hackers are targeting PCs with ransomware that scours an infected network in order to pinpoint and attack and enterprises with big money.
Computing

An update to Microsoft To-Do will help you keep up with your resolutions

If you're looking to stay productive in 2019, you might want to check out the freshly updated Microsoft To-Do app, now with additional integration with the Windows 10 Start Menu and more.
Computing

Want to save a webpage as a PDF? Just follow these steps

Need to quickly save and share a webpage? The best way is to learn how to save a webpage as a PDF file, as they're fully featured and can handle images and text with ease. Here's how.
Computing

Could the next Microsoft HoloLens be announced at MWC 2019?

After not having a presence at Mobile World Congress for three years, Microsoft is now sending out media invites for a press conference on February 24 during the annual event in Barcelona. Could a next-generation HoloLens be on the way?
Computing

Microsoft to separate Cortana from search with the next version of Windows 10

Changes are on the way for two key features in Windows 10. A separation of Windows 10 search and Cortana will allow Microsoft to more often innovate on each of the features independently.
Computing

Delete tracking cookies from your system by following these quick steps

Cookies are useful when it comes to saving your login credentials and other data, but they can also be used by advertisers to track your browsing habits across multiple sites. Here's how to clear cookies in the major browsers.
Computing

Convert your PDFs into convenient Word documents with Adobe or a free option

PDF files are great, but few document types are as malleable as those specific to Microsoft Word. Here's how to convert a PDF file into a Word document, whether you prefer to use Adobe's software suite or a freemium alternative.
Computing

Nvidia’s next midrange card might be a GTX 1660 Ti, rumors suggest

Nvidia may be working on a non-RTX Turing graphics card called the 1660 Ti. Rumors suggest it will have around 20 percent fewer CUDA cores than the RTX 2060 and will lack ray tracing support.