How to take a screenshot on Mac

Since Macs don’t have a PrintScreen command like in Windows, many Mac beginners don’t know how to take a screenshot with a keyboard shortcut. This task is actually quite simple, and there are several methods of achieving it. But first, let’s see what each symbol and key means:

  • ⇧ – Shift
    ⌘ – Command
    ^ – Control
    ⌥ – Option (Alt in Windows)
    ⇥ – Tab
    ⌫ – Delete

  • ⌤ – Enter
    ⎋ – Escape
    ←↑→↓ – Arrow Keys
    fn – Function key
    ⏎ – Return
    ⇪ – Caps Lock

Contents:

1. How to use Mac screenshot shortcuts
2. How to take screenshots on a Mac with Grab
3. How to take screen pictures on a Mac with Screenshot
4. How to take a video screenshot
5. How to change the screenshot location on a Mac
6. How to edit screenshots on a Mac
7. How to delete screenshots on a Mac


1. Keyboard shortcuts for taking screenshots on a Mac

macOS provides hotkeys to carry out particular actions and system tasks. When you use hotkeys, the speed of your work increases significantly. To take a picture of your Mac screen, use the following screenshot commands:

  • Shift + Command + 3 – take a screenshot of the full Desktop screen.
  • Shift + Command + 4 – take a screenshot of a certain area (select area with the mouse) of your Desktop screen.
  • Shift + Command + 4 + Space – take a screenshot of a certain window on the Desktop. Also, this shortcut can be used to take a website screenshot on your Mac.

If you need to copy the screenshot to the clipboard for further insertion into any graphics or text editor, use the following hotkeys:

  • Shift + Command +3 + Control – save a screenshot of the full Desktop to the Clipboard.
  • Shift + Command + 4 + Control – save a screenshot of a certain area (select with the mouse) to the Clipboard.
  • Shift + Command + 4 + Space + Control – save a screenshot of a certain Window to the Clipboard.

Then press Command + V to paste the picture. You can also do this via the Menu → Edit → Paste.


2. Take screenshots on a Mac with Grab (for macOS High Sierra)

If you are used to performing tasks with a mouse and prefer not to remember keyboard shortcuts, you can use the built-in macOS utility app, Grab. The Grab app is available on macOS High Sierra, and can be found via Spotlight or in the Launchpad. For the equivalent utility app in newer macOS versions, skip to the point three.

Taking screenshots on Mac

Grab is extremely simple to use, and has a wide range of functions. Here are the main ones.

screenshots with grab

As you can see, it’s simple. There are four modes of “shooting,” each of which provides shortcuts:

  • Shift + Command + A – Selection (take a screenshot of the selected area)
  • Shift + Command + W – Window (take a screenshot of any of the currently open windows)
  • Command + Z – Screen (take an entire desktop screenshot)
  • Shift + Command + Z – Timed Screen (take a screenshot of the full screen timer)

After a screenshot is made, the Grab window will appear with the image. Then you can save it in the right folder.

It should also be noted that Grab can display several screenshots; it is possible to take several screenshots and then compare them to choose the best one. Grab also lets you copy your images to the clipboard by pressing Command + C.


3. Take screen pictures on a Mac with Screenshot (for macOS Mojave, 10.14, and above)

For macOS Mojave or macOS Catalina, the Screenshot utility app is equivalent to Grab in prevoius versions. Using Screenshot, you can take pictures of your desktop and also record your workflow on screen.

You can find this app in the Utilities folder under Applications, or search for it via Spotlight or Launchpad.

To take a shot of your screen using the macOS Screenshot app, complete the following steps:

  1. Launch the Screenshot app.
  2. In the next moment, you will see a small toolbar of the app.
  3. toolbar

  4. Select one of the three sections on the left to take a screenshot:
    • Choose Capture Entire Screen entire screen → click Capture or make a control-click.
    • Choose Capture Selected Window selected windows→ move pointer, which looks like a camera camera to select the particular window you want to screenshot → click Capture> or make a control-click. You can also take a full page screenshot of your web browser.
    • Choose Capture Selected Portion select portion → you will see a selected area → control-click to catch and move this area; drag its edges to narrow or widen it → click Capture.

Additionally, you can take a delayed screenshot. Click Options → in the Timer section, click on the 5 Seconds> or 10 Seconds → click Capture. In the next moment, a small countdown timer will appear on the screen. Then, the screenshot will be made automatically.


4. How to take a video screenshot

If you want to take a video screenshot on your Mac, complete the next steps:

  1. Launch the Screenshot tool.
  2. Select one of the two sections in the middle of the app’s window:
    • Choose Record Entire Screen record entire screen → click Record or make a control-click. In the next moment, you will see a record icon in the Status menu in the Menu bar. To stop recording, click the record icon on top or launch the Screenshot app and select Stop Screen Recording from the app’s toolbar.
    • screen recording

    • Choose Record Selected Portion record selected portion → you will see a selected area → control-click to catch and move this area; drag its edges to narrow or widen it → click Record. Stop recording by clicking the record icon in the Status bar or select Stop Screen Recording from the Screenshot app’s toolbar.

5. How to change screenshot location on a Mac

By default, all your screenshots are saved to the desktop. If you want to save screenshots to another location, launch the Screenshot app and click Options. There you will see a list of Save To suggested locations, like Clipboard, Mail, Messages, and Other Location. Once you choose a location, your screenshots will automatically be saved to the selected location.

change screenshot location

If you use macOS High Sierra or earlier, there is another option to change the screenshot location. You can change the location for storing the screenshots via Terminal. Go to Applications → Utilities → Terminal and use the following command:

Defaults write com.apple.screencapture location ~/Pictures
Killall SystemUIServer

Here ~/Pictures is the path to the folder.

Restore settings:

Defaults write com.apple.screencapture location ~/Desktop
Killall SystemUIServer


6. How to edit a screenshot on a Mac

There are several ways you can edit a screenshot on a Mac:

  • Use the Screenshot utility app.
    To edit a screenshot you have just taken, this option must be selected in advance. For this, Launch the Screenshot app → click Options → select Show Floating Thumbnail. So the next time you take a screenshot, you will see a small thumbnail in the right corner of the screen. Click it to edit, rotate, or crop screenshot. Then, you can click Done if you finished, choose the trash icon to delete or select to share the file via mail, AirDrop and so on.
  • Use the Preview app.
    When you control-click the screenshot, it is opened by the Preview app by default. Using this app, you can edit, rename, and share a screenshot. By default, screenshots are saved in .png format. To change the format, you can click on File on the menu bar and select Export to convert a PNG format to .heic, ,jpeg, .pdf, or .tiff.
  • Use the Terminal utility app.
    By default all screenshot file names start with “Screenshot”. You can change the screenshots’ file names via the following commands:
    Defaults write com.apple.screencapture name “the desired name”
    killall SystemUIServer

    Here the “desired name” is the name of a new image file.
    Restore settings:
    Defaults write com.apple.screencapture name “Screenshot”
    killall SystemUIServer

    Also, you can change the screenshot file format. For this, use the command:
    Defaults write com.apple.screencapture type format
    killall SystemUIServer

    The “format” may be one of the following: jpg, tiff, pdf, png, bmp.
    *You can find more useful Terminal Commands here.


7. How to delete screenshots on a Mac

The screenshot files may consume more than 1 MB of memory. Even though each individual file is not large, together they can take gigabytes of your disk space. So, it is better to regularly remove them from your Mac.
delete screenshots on a mac

Also, storing screenshots in different locations makes it difficult to find and delete them. Therefore, to remove screenshots from your Mac, we recommend using the Cleaner-App software tool.

To get rid of useless screenshots, complete the next steps:

  1. Launch Cleaner-App.
  2. Select the Screenshots section. Sort files by size, name or date for your convenience. Choose some unnecessary files or click Select All. Then, click the Review and Remove button.
  3. Skim the files you are going to delete and click Remove.
  4. Empty the trash bin to free up space on your Mac.

how to delete screenshots on mac

Conclusion

That’s all! We hope you have found all the information you needed to take screenshots on your Mac with its built-in system tools. There are also lots of great third-party programs for this task; however, most Mac users are satisfied with the methods described above.

If you want to quickly get rid of screenshots from your disk, download the Cleaner-App for free. This software tool helps you to easily clean up your Mac by removing large files, downloads, installers, duplicate files, same name files, photo sessions, and screenshots from your disk.