This comprehensive tutorial will show you how to take screenshots of full or selected parts of your Mac’s screen for free, without having to download new applications. How to take screenshot on Mac

How to take a screenshot on Mac using the keyboard

The easiest method is to press Command + Shift + 5 to open the screenshot toolbar. From here, you can do screenshots or screen recordings for the full or selected part of your Mac’s screen. Screenshot toolbar on Mac

Take a screenshot of the entire screen

Press Command + Shift + 3 to take a screenshot of your entire Mac screen.

Take a screenshot of a portion of the screen

Press Command + Shift + 4 and then select the portion of the screen you want to take the screenshot of. After your press Command + Shift + 4 and are making a selection, use the following keys to adjust the selected area:

  • Space Bar: When you have selected a portion of the screen, press and hold the space bar to move the screen selection anywhere else.
  • Option: Press and hold the option key to change the screen selection area from all sides.
  • Shift: Press and hold the shift key to move the selection edge in only one set of directions (horizontally or vertically).
  • Option + Shift: You can press and hold both keys to combine the action.

Press Command + Shift + 4 and then press the space bar. After this, place the camera cursor on any window to highlight it and click to take a screenshot of only that app window. For this to work, it isn’t necessary that the app window be on the screen or selected. Even if a window is visible slightly (behind other apps) and you’re able to put the camera cursor on it, macOS will take the full screenshot of that app. Pro tip: When you take a screenshot of an app window, it shows a shadow. You can use a simple Terminal command to remove shadows from your Mac screenshots. Take screenshot of an application window on Mac

Take a screenshot of the menu bar and Dock

Press Command + Shift + 4 and then press the space bar. After that, take the mouse cursor on the top menu bar or the Dock to take its screenshot. My Dock on Mac

Take a screenshot of desktop icons without wallpaper

Press Command + Shift + 4 and then press the space bar. After that, place the camera cursor on the desktop files. It’ll select all files and folders, including the SSD icon. Click to take the screenshot. Take screenshot of desktop icons on Mac

Make sure the menu is on screen. If you want to highlight something, place the pointer on the action. Next, press Command + Shift + 4 and then press the space bar. After that, place the camera cursor on the menu and click to capture its screenshot without the title. Screenshot of menu on Mac

Take a screenshot of MacBook’s Touch Bar

Press Command + Shift + 6 to take a screenshot of the MacBook’s Touch Bar.

Select something and then take a full screenshot

Suppose you want to highlight something in gray and take a screenshot of the entire page including that highlight. To do that, press Command + Shift + 4, use your mouse to select the section of screen you want to highlight, and make sure not to release the mouse button. Finally, press Command + Shift + 3 to take a full screenshot which will include the selected portion and work as a highlight. Highlight and take screenshot on Mac

How to take a screenshot on Mac using the Screenshot app

macOS Mojave and later have the Screenshot app (before macOS Mojave, it was called the Grab app). You’ll find it inside Other or Utilities folder in the Launchpad. When you open this app, it shows the screenshot and screen recording toolbar on the screen, which is the same as pressing Command + Shift + 5. Use it to take a screenshot. Screenshot app on macOS Mojave and later

How to take a screenshot on Mac using Preview

The Preview app on Mac lets you open images and PDFs. But did you know that Preview also has an option to take screenshots? Though it isn’t as effortless as other methods, you should explore this if you take lots of screenshots. Open the Preview app from the Launchpad. When in Preview, from the top menu bar, click File > Take Screenshot and choose an option. When you take a screenshot via Preview, it immediately opens for edits and Markup. Take screenshot using Preview on Mac


Where are the screenshots saved on Mac?

By default, all screenshots on Mac are saved on the desktop. Right-click on the desktop and choose Use Stacks to group them all. This will create a bundle of all your screenshots. Tip: You can easily change the location of screenshots from the desktop to any other folder.

How to delete screenshots?

You can delete Mac screenshots like any regular image by right-clicking and choosing Move to Trash. You can also select the screenshots and press Command + delete to remove them.

How to take a screenshot and copy it straight to the clipboard?

When you press the Control key while taking a Mac screenshot, the screenshot isn’t saved as a file but gets copied to your clipboard. You can paste this in a text field, document, Preview, or an editing app. You can’t paste it as a file in Finder folder. For example, when you want the screenshot of the full-screen in the clipboard, press Command + Shift + Control + 3. For the selected area, press Command + Shift + 4 > make a selection > press and hold the Control key > lift the hold to take a screenshot. This screenshot is saved to your Mac’s clipboard, and thanks to Universal Clipboard, it’s also available to paste on your iPhone or iPad.

What’s the format of Mac screenshots?

Screenshots on Mac are saved in PNG format. You can easily change this to JPG, TIFF, GIF, and even PDF.

How to cancel a screenshot midway?

When making a screenshot selection, press the esc key to cancel the screenshot.

Can I use Siri to take a screenshot on Mac?

On Mac, you can’t use Siri to take a screenshot, but you can on iPhone and iPad.

I don’t think I’ll remember these tips. What to do?

You’ll become an expert in Mac screenshots over time. But if you can’t remember them all now, just remember one set of keys – Command + Shift + 5, and this will help you take almost all types of useful screenshots and screen recordings on Mac. Read Next:

  • How to take a screenshot of your Mac using Touch Bar
  • How to edit or delete a photo metadata on iPhone and Mac
  • Steps to capture full page screenshots in Safari, Firefox, and Chrome on Mac

Whether you just need to take the occasional screenshot on Mac, are a power user with an advanced workflow, or somewhere in-between, follow along for how to screenshot on Mac with the free built-in macOS tools or with third-party software. We’ll look at keyboard shortcuts, tips and tricks, advanced options, and customizations. With macOS Mojave and later, Macs got a hidden Screenshot app with more advanced controls like a timer, save to destination choices, show/hide mouse pointer, remember last selection, screen recording control, and more. The great part about that is the improved screenshot functionality is free for all Mac users with no app to download.

Table of contents

  • How to screenshot on Mac: From basics to advanced
    • Screenshot on Mac with macOS built-in tools
      • Shortcuts, tips, and tricks
      • Change screenshot default to JPG
    • Advanced screenshots on Mac with third-party apps

However, if you’re looking for even more advanced ways to screenshot on Mac, a third-party app will be the way to go. We’ll cover both below.

How to screenshot on Mac: From basics to advanced

Screenshot on Mac with macOS built-in tools

Shortcuts, tips, and tricks

If you don’t know them or need a refresher, here are the keyboard shortcuts to screenshot on Mac:

  • Entire screen: shift + command + 3
    • By default you’ll see a thumbnail of your screenshot in the bottom right corner of your Mac
    • You can:
      • Click on it to edit the screenshot
      • Right click on it to get more options
      • Swipe on the thumbnail to dismiss it (keep reading for how to disable thumbnails)
      • Wait a moment for it to be saved to your desktop
      • Add the control key while taking a screenshot to copy it to your clipboard
  • Selected portion: shift + command + 4
    • Then use the crosshair with your mouse or trackpad to select the portion you’d like to capture
    • You can press and hold the space bar to drag the selected portion
    • Press the escape key to cancel the screenshot
    • Let go of your mouse button or trackpad to take the selected screenshot
    • Add the control key if you want to copy it to your clipboard
  • Screenshot a window, menu, the Dock: shift + command + 4 + space bar
    • With these screenshots, you’ll see a camera icon appear
    • Hover over different windows, the menu bar, menu items, or Dock, a blue highlight will let you know what you’re going to capture
    • Click the window or menu to take the screenshot
    • You can also hold the option key to remove the shadow border from window screenshots
  • Screenshot the Touch Bar on MacBook Pro: shift + command + 6
    • Add the control key to the shortcut to copy the screenshot to your clipboard
  • Open the macOS Screenshot app: shift + command + 5
    • Now you’ll see the entire screen, selected window, or selected portion options, as well as the ability to start a screen recording (entire or portion), “Options,” and “Capture”
    • Click Options to customize your screenshot preferences
      • These include a timer, save to options, as well as the ability to disable the floating thumbmail afer taking a screenshot, show/don’t show mouse pointer, and remember last selection
      • There’s a Capture button you can use in the menu as well (or press the return key)
      • One neat option for quickly taking lots of screenshots is setting a selected portion with the menu, choosing “Remember Last Selection,” then using the shift + command + 5 shortcut followed by the return key which will take the screenshot

How to screenshot on Mac - shift + command + 5 to pull up the Screenshots app menu in macOS How to screenshot on Mac - shift + command + 5 to pull up the Screenshots app menu in macOS then choose Options Another tip for MacBook Pro users, you get screenshot controls on the Touch Bar when using shift + command + 4 or 5: How to screenshot on Mac - look for handy controls on the MacBook Pro's Touch Bar 1 How to screenshot on Mac - look for handy controls on the MacBook Pro's Touch Bar 2 A couple of other things to keep in mind, screenshots are prevented in the Apple TV app. And if you want to customize the keyboard shortcuts for screenshots, head to System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts > Screenshots.

Change screenshot default to JPG

By default, screenshots on Mac save to the desktop as PNG files, which tend to be larger files. To change the default to JPG (smaller file sizes), follow these steps:

  • Open the Terminal app
  • Enter the following command “defaults write type JPG”
  • Press return (enter)

Advanced screenshots on Mac with third-party apps

Our top pick for a robust screenshot app for Mac is CleanShot X. The app comes with more than 50 features to allow you to accomplish pretty much anything you can think of when it comes to capturing your screen. That includes:

  • Annotations
  • Quck access overlay with quick actions
  • Self-timer
  • Scrolling capture in addition entire screen, selection, windows, more
  • Compatiblity with PixelSnap
  • Custom screenshot backgrounds
  • Show magnifier with crosshair for selected portion screenshots
  • Freeze screen
  • Robust screen recording
    • Record as GIF
    • Auto-enable Do Not Disturb
    • Show/Hide cursor
    • Hide clutter from desktop when recording
    • Capture Clicks
    • Capture Keystrokes
  • Upload screenshots and recordings and get a link to share with CleanShot Cloud
  • Tags
  • Team management
  • Custom domain and branding

CleanShot X for Mac starts from $29 for 1 Mac as a one-time purchase that includes updates for a year (optional $19 annual subscription for future updates beyond that). And CleanShot Cloud Pro offers all the features including custom domain names and branding, self-destruct control, and more from $8/month per user when paid annually. Other popular third-party screenshot apps for Mac:

  • Snagit – free trial then goes from $49.99
  • Monosnap – free basic plan (non-commerical)

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  • Hands-on: Making custom Apple Watch health complications with ‘Complication Lab’
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  • Here’s how to install the macOS Monterey public beta or developer beta

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More. Check out 9to5Mac on YouTube for more Apple news: There are multiple ways to take a screenshot on a Mac (or if you are arriving here from the PC world: print screen on a Mac). We’ll run through the different key combinations and the various refinements you can make to screenshots so that, for example, you can crop them to a particular size, or take a screen grab of an area that is bigger than your screen. We’ll also look at what to do when you can’t screenshot what you want because you need to be interacting with your screen to capture it. Many of the methods below will work in all versions of macOS, but there were a number of changes to the screenshot options that arrived in macOS Mojave in 2018, so if you aren’t running Mojave or later then you may not have access to them. In this article, we show you how to take a screenshot of something on your Mac’s display, we’ll also discuss how you can edit it, and where the image will be saved – since lots of people are unclear about where screenshots go on the Mac. Screenshots are saved to your Desktop by default, although you can change where your screenshots are saved. Generally your screenshot will save as a .png file, which you may want to open in Preview or a similar image viewing program, and then Save As with a different file type extension. We discuss ways to change the format your screenshot is saved in below.

Which buttons screenshot on Mac?

There are actually various key combinations you can use to take a screenshot on a Mac, we’ll run though each below:

Command + Shift + 3 to screenshot the whole screen

Press Command + Shift + 3 to take a screenshot of the whole screen. If you have more than one screen it will grab two screenshots, one of each screen. By default these will be saved to your desktop.

Command + Shift + 4 to screenshot an area of the screen

This is the best option if you want to take a screenshot of a selected area rather than the whole screen.

  1. Press Command + Shift + 4 you’ll see a crosshairs appear on your screen with some numbers.
    Crosshairs screenshot
  2. Click with your mouse or trackpad and drag these crosshairs across the area of the screen you want to screenshot, as below, so that they form a rectangle around what you want to grab.
  3. When you are ready release the mouse button or trackpad.

If you want the screen shot to be a certain dimension you could use the pixel measurement that appears beside the crosshairs. You could, for example, drag until the measurements are 500 x 500 if you wanted to screenshot a square. Take screenshot of part of screen

Command + Shift + 5 for more options

Command + Shift + 5 is an option that arrived in Mojave, so as long as you have updated the operating system since 2018 you will have this ability. Press Command + Shift + 5 and you will see a pop up appear on your screen with a number of options. These include: Capture Entire Screen, Capture Selected Window and Capture Selected Portion. There are also options so you can make a screen recording of what’s happening on your screen: Record Entire Screen and Record Selected Portion. We often choose the Capture Selected Portion option which we have set to a certain dimension. This way we can always create screenshots at the same size.

Tips for better screenshots

Try these tips below to fine-tune your screenshots:

  • Once the crosshairs appear you can let go of the keyboard keys.
  • Once you’ve clicked the mouse button and started dragging the cursor, press Space, and you’ll be able to move the selected area around.
  • Hold Shift and you’ll be able to move horizontally only.
  • Press Escape at any time to abort the screengrab. No image will be generated or captured.
  • If you press Control at the same time the screenshot will be copied to your pasteboard.

Where are screenshots saved on Mac?

By default, Mac screenshots are saved to the desktop. But in Mojave or later, you can choose a variety of other places where your screenshot can be saved. If you were to use an app such as Grab (available in earlier versions of macOS) to take your screenshots then they might end up elsewhere. Grab is likely to save the screenshot to your Documents folder – and if you don’t change the name of the image it will save as Untitled. It is possible to change where screenshots are saved in Mojave or later:

  • Hold down Command + Shift + 5.
  • Click on Options.
  • Find the location you want to save to in the Save to section.
  • Or, if you want to save the image elsewhere, choose Other Location.

We have a separate article about
changing where your screenshots go if you want more information, including details of how to change the location of screenshots in High Sierra and older versions of Mac software.

How to choose dimensions of screenshot

There are a number of reasons why you might need a screenshot to be a certain size. Perhaps you have been asked to provide an image that’s a specified number of pixels, a specific size, or maybe you want to take a number of screenshots that are the same dimensions. You might be thinking you need to edit the screenshot after you’ve taken it to achieve this, but actually you can choose the dimensions of the screenshot as you take it – and use the same dimensions again. If this is a one off and you need to take one screen shot at specific dimensions do this:

  1. Press Command + Shift + 4.
  2. Crosshairs will appear on your screen with some number – these represent the number of pixels that you will be grabbing. Click your mouse or track pad and drag a marquee over the area of the screen you want to grab. You’ll notice that the numbers beside the crosshairs will change.
    How to take a screenshot on Mac
  3. Drag until the measurement corresponds with the dimensions you require. For example, if you want a square make sure the width and height are the same.
  4. Before letting go of the mouse button/trackpad, press the Space Bar, then you can move the box around your screen until you have the area covered you want to screenshot.
  5. Once you are happy with your selection, release the mouse button/trackpad.

If you frequently have to take images that are the same size – for example, we use 1,600 x 900 images so that tends to be our default – you could set up your crosshairs in advance by using Command + Shift + 5. Here’s how:

  1. Hold down Command + Shift + 5.
  2. When the crosshairs appear on your screen drag these crosshairs to cover an area of screen that equals the pixel width and depth you need. You don’t need to worry too much about how well you cover the area you want to grab because once you release the mouse button you will be able to move the box around your screen until you have the area covered you want to screenshot.
  3. Once you are happy with your selection, click Capture (if you are using macOS Mojave or later).

What if you want to screengrab or screenshot a single window on your desktop? There are two ways to do this. You could press Command + Shift + 5 and choose Capture Selected Windows. Alternatively:

  1. Hold down Command + Shift + 4.
  2. When crosshairs appear, hit the Space key. You’ll see a camera icon and the foremost window will turn grey.
  3. Position your cursor over the window you want to grab (it will be highlighted) and click your mouse/press the trackpad.
  4. A screenshot of the window (complete with shadow) will appear on your desktop.

Click to take a screenshot of this window only – and the resulting image will have a nice shadow effect, too. Screen shot a Window Mac

How to Screenshot a window without a shadow

If the shadow is a distraction from the image you can take a screenshot without it:

  1. Press Command + Shift + 4.
  2. When the crosshairs appear press Space + Alt/Option.
  3. Position cursor over window (it will be highlighted in blue) and click.
  4. A screenshot of the window (without shadow) will appears on your desktop.

The same technique can be used to screenshot menus: Open the menu you want to screenshot:

  1. Open the menu you want to screenshot.
  2. Press Command + Shift + 4.
  3. When crosshairs appear, press Space.
  4. Position cursor over dropdown menu and click.

You’ll get a screenshot of the menu (although it won’t include the title at the top of the dropdown – to screenshot that you’ll need to use the standard Command + Shift + 4 and judge the selection by eye). How to take screenshot on Mac: Screenshot a dropdown menu And it doesn’t stop there. You can use the same technique to capture neat screenshots of other screen furniture that you might not think of as windows. Here’s a screenshot of our Dock, which we grabbed in the same way – Command + Shift + 4 and then Space: How to take screenshot on Mac: Dock You can also capture the top bar, certain elements of the top bar on the right-hand side, or all the icons on your desktop with the top bar, Dock and wallpaper image removed.

How to take a timed screenshot

Some times it appears to be impossible to take a screenshot of what you want to capture because you need to be interacting with the software at the same time as you need to be grabbing the screenshot. Luckily there is a way to do this. To take a timed screenshot (Mojave or later) you need to do the following:

  1. Hold down Command + Shift + 5.
  2. Click on Options.
  3. Under Timer choose 5 or 10 seconds.
  4. Now choose the kind of screengrab you want to take. Entire screen, selected portion, selected window.
  5. You’ll see a timer start up. When it reaches zero, your screenshot will be taken.

If you are in an older version of macOS or Mac OS X you can use Grab to take a timed screenshot. Press Command + Space and start to type Grab, or search through the Utilities folder (which you’ll find in the Applications folder.)

  1. Open Grab.
  2. Click on Capture > Timed Screen.
  3. Click on Start Timer.
  4. A red dial will start filling in beside the camera icon to show you how much time is left before the screen will be grabbed.
  5. This will only allow you to screengrab a whole screen – but you can later edit the grab to focus on a particular element if you like.

How to take a screenshot on Mac: Timed screen grab Launch Grab and click Capture in the top menu; you’ll see options for the usual screen captures (a small Selection, a Window, or the entire Screen, each one with a shortcut that you can use to access it in future) but also includes the handy option of timed screenshots (select Timed Screen), for when you want to set up a capture and then activate whatever it is you want to grab. The timer is 10 seconds.

How to edit a screenshot on Mac

One of the most useful features in more recent versions of macOS is the ability to edit screenshots without opening an application to do so. When you take a screenshot (macOS Mojave or later), a thumbnail of it will appear in the bottom right corner of your screen. If you click on that the image will open in what Apple refers to as Quick Look, with various tools for drawing, highlighting, adding shapes, text boxes and even adding your signature to the screenshot. If you miss the thumbnail you can easily open and edit the screenshot in the Preview app that is included as part of macOS. You can even click on the screenshot on the Desktop and press the Space bar to open the same Quick Look view that lets you make edits without opening the Preview app itself. Here’s how to get at those editing tools:

  1. Open the image – either by double clicking on the file on the Desktop, selecting the file and pressing the Space bar, or clicking on the thumbnail when it appears as you take the screenshot.
  2. Along the top of the window that opens you will see options including Open with Preview (unless you did open in Preview). You don’t have to open in Preview, you can get to the tools you need by clicking on the icon that looks like a pencil in a circle. (There’s also a rotate option here, so if that’s what you wanted to do just click that.)
  3. If you click on the pencil icon you will gain access to lots of options for editing your screenshot. You could for example add text notes, or underline words, as in the below image.
    Edit screenshot in Mojave
  4. You can also click on the Share button to choose from options such as Mail, Message or add to Photos.

How to crop a screenshot

There are various ways to crop a screenshot. You could take the screen shot in the dimensions you need as per the advice above, but if you’d prefer to refine it afterwards here’s what to do:

  1. As per the instructions above open the editing panel.
  2. Click on the Crop icon. A button with the word Crop will appear when you do so so will white corners at each edge of your image. You can drag these in until you are happy with the cropped image. How to crop a screenshot Mac
  3. Once you are satisfied with your crop click Crop.

How to save a screenshot as JPEG

Mac screenshots are saved as a PNG file by default. The format has its benefits – its uncompressed so you won’t lose any detail, for example, but it has a large file size. If you want your screengrab to be as small Since Apple removed Grab in the update to Mojave it also removed a really simple way to save a screenshot as a JPEG or TIFF file. The easiest way to change the format that your screenshot is saved as would be to open it in a photo editing app, such as Photos or Preview or Photoshop and Save As. However, if you are feeling confident enough, you can make a change in Terminal that should mean your Mac always saves a screengrab as a .jpg, for example.

  1. Open Terminal (Press Space+Command and start typing Terminal).
  2. Paste in the following:
    defaults write type jpg
  3. Press return.
  4. You will need to restart your Mac before the changes will come into effect.

In older versions of macOS, you can use Grab to save screenshots as JPEG rather than PNG files. It is also possible to choose to save your shots as PNG or TIFF.

  1. Open Grab.
  2. Click on Capture, choose from Selection, Window, Screen or Timed Screen (more on that option next).
  3. If you want to take a screenshot of a Window, click on that Window.
  4. You will hear a camera shutter sound and the screengrab will appear so you can name it and choose where to save it.

Fixes for Mac screenshot problems

If you are having problems taking screengrabs on your Mac we might have the answer below.

Why are my screenshots blank?

This is not an uncommon occurrence, unfortunately. If you’ve carefully followed the instructions above and you’re sure the selection, window or screen that you targeted for screenshot contained graphical elements but these now aren’t showing up in the image captured, the chances are that the software you were using has chosen specifically to block screenshots. For example, you may not be able to screenshot a visual in the Netflix app. You should be able to get around the problem by using either a different piece of software that does the same thing.

When to do when Mac screenshot not working

If you are taking screenshots and they aren’t appearing on your desktop it might be that you were accidentally pressing ctrl at the same time – which would copy the shot to your pasteboard. If it’s not as simple as that, go to System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts and check that the shortcuts are activated under Screen Shots. Another possibility is that the usual shortcuts have been assigned to something else, so double-check that here in System Preferences too.

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