How To Take Screenshots In Mac OS X

The ability to take screenshots of your computer might come in handy in various situations. You might need to show an expert an error message you are getting on your computer, you might need to instruct someone on how to do something, you might want to take a picture of a memorable chat conversation, or you might be writing a WorldStart article and need screenshots to accompany it.

There are a variety of ways a screenshot can be taken in Mac OS X depending on what you want included in the screenshot.

Method 1. Take a screenshot of the entire screen

Make sure what you want displayed on your screenshot is visible. Minimize the windows you don’t want to appear in the shot. Press Command+Shift+3. If your sound is on, you will hear a camera shutter sound. Check on your desktop and your screenshot will be saved there. It will be labelled ‘Screen Shot’ followed by a time stamp of the date and time. Earlier versions of OS X will save it as ‘Picture’ followed by its order number compared to other saved screenshots. If it’s the 3rd screenshot on your desktop, it will be Picture 3.

screenshot full image

Method 2. Take a screenshot of a portion of your screen

Press Command+Shift+4. Your cursor will turn into a cross-hair. Drag the cross-hair to highlight the area you’d like to take a screenshot of. A grey rectangle should appear where you drag the cross-hair. Let go of the mouse. You will hear a camera shutter sound indicating that the screenshot has been taken. The screenshot will be saved on your desktop.

screenshot portion image

Method 3. Take a screenshot of an open window

Press Command+Shift+4 and hit Spacebar. The cross-hair will turn into a camera icon. Hover the camera over the window you want to capture. As you hover over a window, it will be highlighted blue. Click on the window you selected and you will hear a camera shutter sound. The screenshot will be saved to the desktop.

screenshot window image

Method 4. Save a screenshot to the clipboard

Press Command+Control+Shift+3. You will hear a camera shutter sound but the image will not be saved to the desktop. It will be saved to the clipboard – the same place in the computer’s memory that stores the text you have copied. You will be able to paste the image in a supported application such as a Word document or an image editing program. Use Command+V to paste the image.

screenshot clipboard image

The above command will take a screenshot of the entire screen. To take a screenshot of a portion of the screen, press Command+Control+Shift+4 and drag the crosshair over the area you want a picture of. On letting go, you will hear a camera shutter sound and the image will be saved to the clipboard.

Method 5. Use the Grab Utility to take screenshots

Go to Applicatons > Utilities > Grab to open the Grab application.

screenshot grab 01 image

No window will open but you will see the Grab menu in the menu bar at the top of the screen.

screenshot grab 02 image

Click on Capture on the menu and select the option you want for your screenshot. The options are selection, window, screen and timed screen. When you select one, instructions will come up on how to take the selected screenshot.

screenshot grab 03 image

After a screenshot is taken, a new window will open showing the image taken. Click on File > Save on the Grab menu.

screenshot grab 04 image

And select the name and location that the image should be saved to.

screenshot grab 05 image

Changing The Location Of The Saved Screenshot

By default the screenshots in most of the above methods are saved to the desktop. You can change the location where your screenshots get saved. Create a new folder in Finder by going to File > New Folder on the Finder menu.

Name the folder by clicking once on ‘untitled folder’ and typing in your desired name.

Open the Terminal by going to Applications > Utilities > Terminal.

screenshot terminal image

Paste in the command below to the terminal window ensuring that you leave a space at the end. Do not press Return yet.

defaults write location

Drag the folder you created for you screenshots and drop it into the Terminal. This will append the folder name to the end of the above command. You might have something like:

defaults write location /Users/joyce/Documents/shots

Press Return and the command will run.

After the command runs, a new line/prompt will appear on the Terminal. Paste in the command below and hit Return. This will reset the Terminal, allowing the changes to take effect immediately.

killall SystemUIServer

~ Joyce

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