There are many occasions when you might need to take a screenshot of your computer screen. In fact, this practice can be very useful for showing off the way you've customized your desktop to your online friends, for sharing screenshots of work software with a colleague, or for getting remote assistance from a more experienced user than you. Excuse me? You totally understand what we're talking about but you don't have a clue how to capture screenshots on your Mac? Well, I don't see the problem... I can explain you how to take screenshots Mac.
In the following lines I will show you some useful solutions that you can use directly and comfortably on your Apple-branded computer to capture the screen. Depending on your needs and preferences you can choose to take screenshots Mac using the tool available "standard" on macOS or useful and efficient "third-party" tools. The choice, of course, is yours alone.
So read the instructions on how to take screenshots on macOS below and you'll find out how to get beautiful snapshots of the desktop, individual windows and Web pages in no time. In all cases it's a real child's play, I assure you. That said, let's cut the crap and get right to work.
If you are interested in understanding how to take screenshots Mac and if you want to perform this task without installing new applications on macOS you can take advantage, as I said, Instant, the special tool available as standard on Apple-branded computers.
If you want to take a snapshot of the entire screen, press the key combination cmd+shift+3 on the Mac keyboard and the image will be automatically saved to the MacOS desktop. To capture only a portion of the screen use the key combination cmd+shift+4 and then hold down the left mouse button and select the desktop area of interest. Also in this case the image is automatically saved on the Mac desktop.
If, on the other hand, you want to take Mac screenshots of a single application, use the key combination cmd+shift+4 but instead of selecting the area of the screen to be "photographed" with the mouse, press the space bar on the Mac keyboard and click on the window you want to "capture". The final result - guess what - will be automatically saved on the MacOS desktop with a nice shading effect. With the same technique you can also capture the Dock and the menu bar located at the top of the screen. How much simpler could it be?
Let me tell you a little trick: if you hold down the ctrl key on your keyboard while you take a screenshot, it will be copied to the macOS clipboard instead of being saved on your desktop. This feature comes in particularly handy when, for example, you want to take a screenshot of a window or a portion of the screen and attach the image to a Pages document, an email message or otherwise in another application. How convenient is that?
If you're using a version of macOS 10.14 (Mojave) or later, after capturing a screenshot, you'll see a thumbnail of the screenshot appear in the lower right corner of the screen: clicking on that thumbnail will open a Quick Look window with some editing tools (top) to add text, arrows and more to the image. Once you've finished editing, you can save the screenshot on your Mac by clicking on the Finish button (top right) or share it online by clicking on the square icon with the arrow inside (also top right).
If you want, you can also customize your screenshots by inserting arrows, highlights, text and so on with Preview, the app available on all versions of macOS, thanks to which you can view images and PDFs and make changes to them.
To edit screenshots taken with Preview, just double-click on the one you want to edit and wait until the Preview window appears. To edit the screenshot you can use all the main editing tools on the program's toolbar and menu bar. For example, you can adjust the image size by selecting the Adjust Size item from the Tools menu or insert lines, squares and text into the screenshots by clicking first on the briefcase icon in the upper right corner and then on the desired tool in the toolbar that appears in the software window.
If you're not a fan of keyboard shortcuts, you can capture Mac screenshots using the Screen Snapshot tool's commands. To use it, start the app by searching for it in Spotlight, clicking on its icon in the More folder of Launchpad or pressing the key combination cmd+shift+5.
At this point, choose how to proceed: the first three buttons of the application allow you to capture the entire Mac screen, a specific window or a portion of the Desktop. After that, there are two buttons that allow you to record a video of your Mac's screen: the first one allows you to capture the entire Desktop, while the second one allows you to select only a portion of the screen to be recorded.
Finally, there is the Options button that lets you adjust all the preferences related to taking screenshots. It allows you, for example, to choose whether to include the mouse pointer in the captures, whether to show the floating thumbnail of the screenshots taken, to set a timer for capturing the screen and to choose the folder in which to save the images. Once you've adjusted all your preferences, choose the capture option you prefer and click the Capture button to get your screenshot. Easy, isn't it?
If you're using a version of macOS older than 10.14 Mojave, you can use a less complete version of the Screen Snapshot utility, which only allows you to take screenshots and not videos of what's happening on your desktop. I'll explain how to use it now.
Once you start it, click on the item Shot located in the upper left of the menu bar and select the option you prefer from the menu that is shown choosing between Selection, Window, Screen or Screen with Timer. After that, use the app in a similar way as I indicated in the previous lines.
Changing Screenshot Capture Settings
In all cases, screenshot capture is signaled by the sound of the camera playing. By default, screenshots taken on a Mac are saved in PNG format, but you can change this and other aspects of the Snapshot tool using Terminal if you wish.
If you don't know how to open Terminal, look for it in Spotlight or open it "manually" by clicking on its icon in the More folder of Launchpad. At this point you can issue all of the commands listed below.
- If you want to change the format in which screenshots are saved open Terminal, type the command defaults write com.apple.screencapture type jpg and press the Enter key on your Mac keyboard. Instead of jpg you can choose various file formats, such as jpg, bmp, tuf, jp2, tga, pict, pdf or png (which is the default option in macOS).
- If you want to disable shading from screenshots of individual windows, open Terminal, type the command defaults write com.apple.screencapture disable-shadow -bool true and press the Enter key on your keyboard. If you have second thoughts open Terminal again, type the command defaults write com.apple.screencapture disable-shadow -bool false and press the Enter key on your keyboard again.
- If you want to change the destination folder of the screenshots open Terminal, type the command defaults write com.apple.screencapture location [path where you want to save the screenshots] and press the Enter key on the keyboard. Instead of [path where you want to save the screenshots] type the path on your Mac where you want the captured computer screen images to be saved.
In all cases, to make the changes effective, log out of your user account or restart the SystemUIServer process by typing the command killall SystemUIServer in Terminal and then pressing the Enter key on your Mac keyboard.
You don't prefer using Terminal but would still like to change the parameters according to which you can take Mac screenshots? Yes? Well, then you can turn to Onyx. It is an excellent free utility that allows you to customize your Mac, delete temporary files from the hard disk and adjust various hidden settings of the Apple operating system.
To connect to the official website of Onyx click here. Once you see the web page of the program download the software on your Mac by clicking on the appropriate link. Please note that each version of OnyX is intended exclusively for a version of macOS, so be careful when downloading the application on your Mac. If you do not know what version of the operating system is installed on your computer, click on the apple logo located in the upper left corner of the menu bar and select About this Mac from the menu that appears.
Once downloaded, open the OnyX.dmg file and drag the OnyX icon to the Applications folder of macOS to install the program on your Mac.
Once completed, start OnyX by clicking on its icon and selecting Open from the menu that appears. In the window that opens, click Open again, type in your macOS user account password and click OK and Accept to launch the software. Each time you launch it, OnyX will ask you if you want to check the status of your hard drive: to customize the screenshot capture feature this step is not necessary, so click Cancel and proceed to the next step.
The next step is to go to the Parameters tab of OnyX and select the image format in which to save the screenshots from the drop-down menu next to Screen Capture Format:. You can also decide whether to keep the shadows in the snapshots of individual windows by keeping or unchecking the item Shadow in Screen Capture and, if necessary, you can change the folder where the screenshots are saved using the Select... button located next to the item** Located in:. You can also choose whether or not to add the date and time of the capture to the name of the screenshots by checking or unchecking the box next to Include date and time in the name of screen captures** and you can choose the default name for the screenshots by filling in the text field next to Name: and clicking Apply. To save the settings just close the application, if you want to restore the default settings click the Restore Defaults button in the lower right corner.
Third Party Tools
Is the standard Mac screenshot tool not to your liking? If the answer is "yes" I suggest you take a look at Skitch. If you've never heard of it, it's a free application from Evernote that allows you to take screenshots quickly and easily. Once captured, the snapshots can then be customized and edited by adding arrows, highlights and more.
So if you want to find out how to make Mac screenshots with Skitch, the first thing you need to do is download the application from the Mac App Store.
Once the window of the software is displayed, to capture the Mac's screen you just need to press the key combination Cmd+Shift+5 on the computer keyboard and select with the mouse the portion of the screen you want to capture. To take a snapshot of the entire desktop you can use the key combination Cmd+Shift+6.
Alternatively, you can take a screenshot with Skitch by clicking on the Screen Snapshot item in the program's window and then selecting the portion of the screen you want to capture with the mouse cursor and pressing the left mouse button. If you want to take a screenshot of the entire desktop, click on the arrow next to the Screen Snapshot option and select Full Screen from the menu.
After you've taken the screenshots, you can customize and edit the resulting images using Skitch's built-in editor. The editor features a handy toolbar on the left with arrows, geometric shapes, writing tools and more. To customize a captured screenshot you just have to click on the tool you want to use and make the changes you want to the photograph of the screen that you just made.
Then to save the modified screenshot drag the bar at the bottom of the window in the folder where you want to export the screenshot or directly on the desktop of macOS. Alternatively you can save the screenshot you just took and edited by clicking on File in the upper left corner of the menu bar, choosing Export... from the menu that is shown, giving a name for the file you are going to create in the Export as: field, the format in which you want to save the image choosing between PNG, BMP, JPG, PDF or TIFF from the Export format: menu, indicating the Windows location where you want to save the file and then clicking the Save button.
If, on the other hand, after taking a screenshot of your Mac and making some changes to it, instead of saving it on your desktop, you prefer to share it immediately through the social networks you usually use, just click on the Share item at the top left of the menu bar and select the service you want to use from the drop-down menu that is shown.
Are you interested in understanding how to take screenshots of Mac by intervening exclusively on web pages? If the answer is yes, you can use Awesome Screenshot, a very useful extension for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox that allows you to take a picture of a web page in a very simple and automatic way.
To know how to download this extension to make Mac screenshots by intervening only on Web pages and to find out how to use it you can read my guide on how to take a picture of a Web page.