Taking Screenshots on Mac: Tips and Shortcuts

Your Mac contains every tool you need for capturing what’s displayed on its screen.

The problem: they are hidden behind keyboard shortcuts that are by no means obvious.

There is no ‘print screen’ key like in Windows, though there is a keyboard shortcut from where you can take a screenshot.

How do I take a screenshot on a Mac? There are many simple methods of taking screenshots! You can capture the entire screen, just parts of it, or even one particular window using simple methods.

Key takeaways:

Capture the entire screen: Press Command (⌘) + Shift + 3. The screenshot will be saved to the desktop.

Capture a portion of the screen: Press Command (⌘) + Shift + 4. Drag the mouse to select the area you want to capture.
Capture a specific window:

Press Command (⌘) + Shift + 5. This will open a toolbar for taking screenshots and recording the screen.

Troubleshooting: If screenshots aren’t working, check the settings:
Go to Apple menu > System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts > Screenshots.

Restart your Mac or update the system if needed.

Here’s how to take a screenshot on a Mac in several different ways.

Mac screenshot shortcuts:

Taking Screenshots on Mac

Taking pictures of your screen on a Mac is easy, but there are no screenshot buttons! Instead, you have to press certain keys together on your keyboard.

Here’s how:

  • Capture your entire screen: Press and hold Command (⌘) + Shift + 3
  • Capture just a part of your screen: Press and hold Command (⌘) + Shift + 4, then drag your mouse to select the area you want.
  • Capture a specific window: Press and hold Command (⌘) + Shift + 4, then press Space and click on the window you want.
  • To open the screenshot.app: Press and hold Command (⌘)  + Shift + 5 
  • To capture the touch Bar: Press and hold Command (⌘)  + Shift + 6

Take a screenshot of the entire Mac screen:

When you press  Command + Shift + 3, your Mac will immediately take a screenshot of the entire screen and save it as a file on your desktop. The file is usually named “Screenshot” with the date and time it was taken.

After taking the screenshot, you’ll see a small preview in the lower-right corner of your screen. You can click this preview to edit the screenshot.

How to capture a portion of your screen:

Press Command + Shift + 4 at the same time. Your pointer will change to a crosshair. Click and drag to draw a box around the area you want to capture. When you release the mouse button, the screenshot will be saved to your desktop.

How to capture a single window:

Press Command + Shift + 4 at the same time, and your pointer will become a crosshair. Then press the Spacebar, and the pointer will change to a camera icon. Hover over the window you want to capture, which will be highlighted with a light blue overlay. Click on the window to take the screenshot, which will be saved to your desktop. This method can also capture the desktop, menu bar, dock, or an open menu.

How to take screenshots on MacOS without the buttons:

If you find it difficult to remember all the key combinations for taking screenshots on macOS, there’s an easy alternative. Earlier versions of macOS had an app called Grab.app for screenshots, which has been replaced by Screenshot.app in recent versions. 

Here’s how to use it:

Go to the Applications folder, then open the Utilities folder. You’ll find screenshot app there.

Once you open the Screenshot app, you’ll see an overlay with a toolbar. This toolbar has buttons for different types of screenshots:

  • Capture the entire screen
  • Capture the current window
  • Capture a selected area
  • Record the entire screen
  • Record a selected area

The app also offers options like setting a delay of 5 or 10 seconds before capturing, which is useful if you need time to set up your screen. Additionally, you have the option of deciding where to save your screenshots.

Here are three easy ways to open the screenshot app:

Launchpad method:

Open Launchpad and either scroll through the apps or use the search box at the top to find the Screenshot app. Double-click it to open.

Spotlight search method:

Press Command + Spacebar to open Spotlight Search.

Start typing “Screenshot,” and the app will appear in the results. Click on the Screenshot app from the top section of the results to open it. Make sure to pick the top result to avoid starting a web search.

Finder method:

Open Finder by clicking the blue smiling face icon in the Dock.

Go to the Applications folder on the left sidebar, then open the Utilities folder. Scroll down to find the Screenshot app and open it.

If you use the Screenshot app often, you can keep it in your Dock. Just right-click the app icon and select “Keep in Dock” from the Options menu.

Capture the touchbar

To take a screenshot of your Touch Bar, press Command + Shift + 6. This captures everything on your Touch Bar (if your MacBook has one).

Where to find screenshots on a Mac?

After you take a screenshot on your Mac, it’s saved to your desktop by default. You can find it by either opening Finder and clicking on Desktop or just by looking at your desktop. However, this can make your desktop cluttered. If you’re using macOS Mojave or later, you can change where screenshots are saved by using the Screenshot app.

Screenshots are saved as PNG files by default. If you want to change this, you can use Terminal. Open Terminal and type the following command without quotation marks: “defaults write com.apple.screencapture type” followed by a space and the format you want (like JPG or PDF). Then press Return.

How to fix screenshot not working on a Mac?

Are you having any problems when it comes to taking screenshots with your Mac? Here are some simple steps to take:

Solution 1: Check your shortcut settings

Make sure the shortcuts for screenshots on your Mac are set up properly:

  1. Go to the Apple menu > System Preferences
  2. Click on Keyboard, then go to the Shortcuts tab
  3. Select Screenshots from the left side
  4. Verify that all options are checked

Attempt another screenshot. If it still fails, move on to the next solution.

Solution 2: Restart and update your Mac

Restarting and updating your computer may assist in resolving many issues:

  1. Hold down the power button and select Restart. Alternatively, press Control + Eject keys, then click Restart from the menu bar that appears
  2. Go to the Apple menu and choose Restart
  3. Press Control + Command + Eject or Control + Command + Power and select Restart
  4. If there is an update available, go to System Preferences > Software Update > Update Now

Solution 3: Use preview to take screenshots on Mac

If your Mac screenshots aren’t working, you can use Preview instead. Preview is a built-in tool for viewing and editing images, and it also lets you take screenshots. Here’s how:

  1. Open Preview
  2. Click on “File” in the menu bar
  3. Select “Take Screenshot.”
  4. Choose the option you need (entire screen, a window, or a selected area)

Solution 4: Reset NVRAM

NVRAM stores basic settings like time zone and display resolution. Resetting it can help fix screenshot issues. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Shut down your Mac
  2. Restart it and immediately hold down Command + Option + P + R
  3. Keep holding the keys until you hear the startup sound again and the system restarts

This should help resolve the problem.

Solution 5: Use native utilities

MacOS has built-in tools for taking screenshots:

  1. Open Finder > Applications > Utilities
  2. Press Command + Shift + 5 to open the screenshot tool
  3. Click the screenshot icon and select your desired option
  4. Check and change the default save location if needed by going to Options > Screenshot Location

Solution 6: Check keyboard settings

Ensure your keyboard settings are correct:

  1. Go to the Apple menu > System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts
  2. Check that all screenshot options are selected

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