How to take a screenshot on a Mac

Lost without Print Screen? Here's a few ways 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 available in MacOS, whether you’ve updated to Mojave or are still running High Sierra — including those for capturing a specific window — 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. If you want, you can also pin this icon for quick access later.

Grab doesn’t usually feature 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.

The best solution is to simply move screenshots to the Trash whenever you’re finished with them. But if you work with numerous screenshots, this may get a little tiring. The good news is that there are modifications you can make via Terminal commands and 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.

Alternatively, 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.

Gaming

Playing ‘Battlefield V’ on an $800 Nvidia card is stunning. And disappointing

‘Battlefield V’ is the first game to use Nvidia’s ray tracing support, now available with the RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti graphics cards. The feature can, in an ideal scenario, make the game look better, but the performance hit may not be…
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

Capture screenshots with print screen and a few alternative methods

Capturing a screenshot of your desktop is easier than you might think, but it's the kind of thing you'll probably need to know. Here's how to perform the important function in just a few, easy steps.
Computing

How to easily record your laptop screen with apps you already have

Learning how to record your computer screen shouldn't be a challenge. Lucky for you, our comprehensive guide lays out how to do so using a host of methods, including both free and premium utilities, in both MacOS and Windows 10.
Social Media

Going incognito: Here's how to appear offline on Facebook

How do you make sure your friends and family can't see if you're on Facebook, even if you are? Here, we'll show you how to turn off your active status on three different platforms, so you can browse Facebook without anyone knowing.
Smart Home

All the best Amazon Black Friday deals for 2018

Amazon may be an online-only retailer, but that doesn’t mean its Black Friday sales are anything to sniff at. In fact, due to its online status, Amazon has huge flexibility with the range of products and deals it can offer. Here's our…
Computing

HP takes $100 off of leather-clad Spectre Folio 13 bundle for Black Friday

HP is offering a discount to Black Friday shoppers for a bundle that includes its leather-wrapped answer to Apple's MacBook Air. HP is offering a $100 discount on the Spectre Folio 13 when bundled with a mouse and leather sleeve.
Computing

Save a heap with these Black Friday 2018 graphics card deals

The Black Friday 2018 sales period is finally here and it's brought with it a tonne of great component deals. We've been scouring websites and catalogs for days to find you the best graphics cards deals for Black Friday 2018.
Deals

The best Target Black Friday deals for 2018

The mega-retailer opens its doors to the most competitive shoppers at 6 p.m. on Thursday, November 22, and signs indicate that the retailer means business this year. We've sifted through all of the deals, from consumer electronics to small…
Computing

Still miss Windows 7? Here's how to make Windows 10 look more like it

There's no simple way of switching on a Windows 7 mode in Windows 10. Instead, you can install third-party software, manually tweak settings, and edit the registry. We provide instructions for using these tweaks and tools.
Deals

Cyber Monday 2018: When it takes place and where to find the best deals

Cyber Monday is still a ways off, but it's never too early to start planning ahead. With so many different deals to choose from during one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year, going in with a little know-how makes all the…
Computing

Ditch the passwords and buy Xbox games with just your face

Passwords are the past. The latest version of Windows 10 allows you to sign in with your Microsoft account on the web through Microsoft Edge using Windows Hello or a FIDO 2 Yubikey. 
Web

Canceling Amazon Prime is easy, and you might get a refund

Don't be intimidated. Learning how to cancel Amazon Prime is easier than you might think. You might even get a partial or full refund on the cost, depending on how much you've used it. Check out our quick-hit guide for doing so.
Computing

Editing a PDF is easy when you have the right tools in hand

Editing PDF files can be a real pain, but there are a few tricks to make the process a bit easier. This guide will give you three easy methods for how to edit a PDF, two of which work without needing Adobe Acrobat.