How to take a screenshot on Mac (Complete guide)

How to Take Screenshot on Mac

macOS has excellent in-built screenshot support. If you are in a hurry, let me tell you straight up that to take a screenshot on your Mac, press together Command + Shift + 3. However, if your job demands to take screenshots frequently, learn more options to become super productive at this.

Note: The keyboard shortcuts to do screenshots work the same way on MacBook Pro, Macbook Air, iMac, Mac Mini, or any other Mac. There is even a way to take screenshots without the keyboard! Take a look at all the methods below.

4 Keyboard Shortcuts to Take Screenshots on Mac

  1. Capture the Full Screen
  2. Capture Selected Portion of Screen
  3. Capture Any Open Window
  4. Using Screenshot Tools

1. Capture the full screen

To take a screenshot of the full Mac screen, including the Dock, top menu bar and everything else: Press together Command + Shift + 3.

press command shift 3 to take screenshot of full screen on mac

2. Capture selected portion of screen

To take a screenshot of a selected portion: Press together Command + Shift + 4. You may leave the keys when you see the crosshair. Next, drag it to select a portion of the screen. When you are done with the selection, release the mouse key or trackpad touch. The Mac captures a screenshot and saves it.

press command shift 4 to take screenshot of selected screen on mac

Pro Tip: Suppose you make a selection of the wrong portion. You do not press the esc button and restart. Press and hold the Space bar to move the selection. Press and hold Shift to change the selection area only in one direction. And, press the Option key to increase or decrease the sides in proportion. Try it! You will love these.

3. Capture any open window

To capture only an open window on Mac: Press together Command + Shift + 4. Leave the keys when you get the selection cursor.

press command shift 4 to take screenshot of selected screen on mac

Now, press the Space bar once.

press spacebar on keyboard

Next, take the camera icon on any open window and click. Using this, you can even do a screenshot of just the Dock or the menu bar and so on. These screenshot files have a nice grey shading on their edges that look great.

4. Using screenshot tools

One button for all: Can not remember all the above keys? Just remember one set, and then you can use the tools you see to take a screenshot or even screen recording on Mac running macOS Mojave or later. For this, press together Command + Shift + 5.

press command shift 5 to open screenshot tools on mac

After you take a screenshot using any method, you might see its thumbnail in the lower right corner. It will automatically disappear after a few seconds and get saved. Or, you may also click on it to make edits like crop, markup, share, etc.

How to use the Preview app to take a screenshot on Mac

  1. Use Launchpad or go to FinderApplications and open the Preview app.

    open preview app from applications on mac
  2. Click on File from the top menu bar.
  3. Choose Take Screenshot and then select one of the options.

    take screenshot using preview app on mac

Note: Suppose you want to take a screenshot of Chrome using Preview. For this, open the Preview app from the Dock or Launchpad. Then you will see the menu for Preview in the top bar. Do not click on the Chrome window. If you click on it or any other app window, its menu will take the place on the top bar.

How to save screenshots directly to the clipboard on Mac

When you do a screenshot, it is saved to the desktop or place decided by you. However, there is an additional throwaway method to grab a screenshot and get it copied automatically to the clipboard. This won’t save the actual file. You can paste the screenshot in apps like Notes, Word, Google Docs, etc. or even paste it on your other Apple devices courtesy of Universal Clipboard.

For this, press and hold the Control key when you take a screenshot using the above methods. For example,

  • To take a full-screen grab and have it copied to the clipboard: Command + Shift + Control + 3.

    press command shift control 3 to take screenshot and save it to mac clipboard
  • To take a screenshot of a selected portion and have it copied to the clipboard: Command + Shift + Control + 4.

    press command shift control 4 to take screenshot of selected screen and save it to mac clipboard
  • You can also use Command + Shift + 5, then press the Control button, and take the screenshot.

How to take a screenshot on MacBook Pro using Touch Bar

You can also print screenshots using the TouchBar on MacBook. But first, you need to add the screenshot button to it. For this:

  1. Click on the Apple logoSystem Preferences.
  2. Next, click on ExtensionsTouch Bar.
  3. Click on Customize Control Strip → drag the Screenshot icon down to the TouchBar. When you see the icon on the TouchBar, you may drag it left or right at the desired position. Finally, click on Done.

    drag camera icon and click on done

Now onwards, tap on the Camera icon in the TouchBar to open the screenshot tools and take a screen capture.

tap on camera icon to take screenshot on macbook pro using touchbar

Pro Tip: Wondered how to take the screenshot of the TouchBar itself? Press Command + Shift + 6

How to take a screenshot on Mac without the keyboard

You can take a screenshot on Mac even if the keyboard isn’t working or you do not feel like using it! Here’s how.

  1. Open Finder and click ApplicationsUtilities. Or, you may also use the Launchpad and open this folder.
  2. Open the Screenshot app. It comes built-in with all Macs.
  3. Use the toolbar that appears at the bottom of the screen to take a screenshot or screen recording of your Mac’s screen. No keyboard needed!

    How to take a screenshot on Mac without keyboard

Tip: If you want, you may drag the Screenshot app onto your Mac’s Dock to add it here. This will make it easy to launch and use in the future.

How to take a screenshot of the login screen on Mac

Just like any other full screenshot! That is, after you power on your Mac, or are at any login window, or locked user authentication screen, press Command + Shift + 3 to take a screenshot.

This method works if you are running OS X 10.10 (Yosemite, released in 2014) and above.

Note: The screenshot file starts with LWScreenshot if it is of the main login screen (after you just power on or log out of the current user). Rest other login screenshots have the normal file name (Screen Shot Year-Month-Date and Time)

Where to find screenshots on Mac?

By default, screenshots are saved on desktop. You will find all of them here.

Pro Tips:

  • If you have several screenshots, select them all, right-click and then choose New Folder with Selection.
  • You can also drag the screenshot thumbnail to any folder.

How to change the default location of saved screenshots on Mac

  1. Press Command + Shift + 5.

    press command shift 5 to open screenshot tools on mac
  2. Click on Options.
  3. From under Save to, choose a predefined location. Or click on Other Location.

    click on options and select location to change default location of saved screenshot on mac

All future screenshots will save on the selected location. This setting will stay in effect even if you restart the Mac.

How to change keyboard shortcuts to take screenshots on Mac

The default keys are great. However, you may modify them to any key you like. For this:

  1. Click on the Apple logo from the Menu bar and choose System Preferences.

    click on apple logo and select system preferences in macos big sur
  2. Now, click on KeyboardShortcuts.

    click on keyboard in system preferences on mac
  3. Click on Screenshots.
  4. Select a shortcut and then press the enter key.

    select shortcuts tab click on screenshots and then click on current keys
  5. Now, press the desired new key or multiple keys combination.

    change keyboard shortcuts to take screenshots on mac

If you use a Windows keyboard with Mac, the steps to take a screenshot remains the same. However, you have to use Windows keyboard equivalents.

Mac KeyWindows Key

So, to take a full screenshot on Mac using Windows Keyboard, press: Windows + Shift + 3.

press windows shift 3 to take screenshot of full screen on mac using windows keyboard

To capture a selected part, press: Windows + Shift + 4 and so on…

press windows shift 4 to take screenshot of selected screen on mac using windows keyboard

How to change the screenshot file format on Mac

By default, the screenshots on Mac are taken in .PNG format. But, you can change it to JPG (or even TIFF/ PDF/ GIF). The process involves using the Terminal. But it is straightforward. We have an easy guide that tells you how to do this.

How to disable screenshot thumbnail preview on Mac

When you take a screenshot on modern Macs, you see its thumbnail for a few seconds. You can click on it to edit it or share it via AirDrop, Mail, Messages, etc. But, if you do not fancy this and think of it as an unnecessary intrusion, here is how to turn it off.

  1. Press Command + Shift + 5.

    press command shift 5 to open screenshot tools on mac
  2. Click on Options.
  3. Under Options, click on Show Floating Thumbnail to unselect it.

    disable screenshot thumbnail from bottom right on mac

This is how you can master screenshots on Mac. I hope this guide is helpful. If you have any further related questions, feel free to ask in the comments section below.

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Author Profile

I have been an Apple user for over seven years now. At iGeeksBlog, I love creating how-tos and troubleshooting guides that help people do more with their iPhone, iPad, Mac, AirPods, and Apple Watch. In my free time, I like to watch stand up comedy videos, tech documentaries, news debates, and political speeches.

1 comment
  1. There’s definately a great deal to know about this topic. I love all of the points you have made.

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