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How to take a screenshot on a Mac

Remember a few keyboard shortcuts and you'll be golden.
By
August 2, 2021
mac screenshot apple imac
Jon Fingas / Android Authority

Screenshots can be pretty important for modern computers and phones alike. There are bound to be moments when you want to take a screenshot on your Mac, whether it’s to illustrate an app’s behavior, capture a moment in time, or share what your desktop looks like. Thankfully, macOS includes multiple ways to capture your screen, most of which only require a simple keyboard command or shortcut — we’ll show you how to take a screenshot with those methods.

See also: The best Apple laptops

How to take a basic screenshot on a Mac

apple mac screenshot full screen
Jon Fingas / Android Authority

The simplest way to take a screenshot on your Mac is to capture the entire screen. That can be helpful if you want to snap a picture of multiple apps or windows, and makes it easier if you want to capture system elements like the menu bar, desktop, and dock. You need to remember a simple system command.

  1. Press Shift, Command, and 3 at the same time. You should hear a camera sound.
  2. If you see a thumbnail in the screen corner, you can click it to edit the image.
  3. The photo is now on your desktop. The file name indicates when you captured it.
  4. If you want to copy a screenshot to the clipboard, hold Control while you capture the screenshot.

How to capture a window or menu on a Mac

window
Jon Fingas / Android Authority

You’ll sometimes want to capture a screenshot for a single app or a menu. This not only produces a smaller, less cluttered image, but can save you the trouble of having to reshuffle your desktop to get a perfect picture. The process is only slightly more involved than taking a basic screenshot.

  1. Find the app window or menu you want for your screenshot.
  2. Press Shift, Command, 4, and the spacebar at the same time. The mouse pointer should change to a camera.
  3. Click on the window or menu you want to capture. MacOS includes the window’s shadow by default (see above), but holding Option when you click eliminates the shadow.
  4.  If you see a thumbnail in the screen corner, you can click it to edit the image.
  5. The photo is now on your desktop. The file name indicates when you captured it.
  6. If you want to copy a screenshot to the clipboard, hold Control while you capture the screenshot.

More: How to transfer files from Android to Mac


How to capture part of the screen on a Mac

portion of desktop
Jon Fingas / Android Authority

In some cases, you’ll want to capture particular parts of the screen on a Mac — a portion of a website, a social media post, or an important section in an app. This is quite an easy task, although you will want to remember a few extra commands and options.

  1. Press Shift, Command, and 4 at the same time. A crosshair will appear with numbers indicating the pixel position on the screen.
  2. Click, hold, and drag to select the screen area you want to capture. You’ll see numbers indicating the width and height of the resulting image in pixels.
  3. Let go of the mouse or trackpad button to take the screenshot. Alternately, you can press Esc to cancel the screenshot.
  4. If you see a thumbnail in the screen corner, you can click it to edit the shot.
  5. The photo is now on your desktop. The file name indicates when you captured it.
  6. If you want to copy a screenshot to the clipboard, hold Control while you capture the screenshot.

How to capture using the Screenshot app on a Mac

screenshot app
Jon Fingas / Android Authority

If you want more control over how you capture screenshots on a Mac, you can open the Screenshots app in macOS Mojave or later. Most of its functionality is covered by the keyboard shortcuts we’ve discussed earlier, but some options may be important if you need to specify a folder, set a timer, or even record your screen.

  1. Press Shift, Command, and 5 at the same time. The Screenshots app will appear.
  2. By default, part of the screen will be highlighted. You can click and drag the edges to customize the area you want to grab, and click Capture to take an image.
  3. Click the icons in the floating interface to customize what you capture. From left to right, you can capture the entire screen, capture a window, capture a screen portion, record the whole screen, or record a portion of the screen.
  4. Clicking Options lets you choose the destination folder for screenshots, set a timer, display thumbnails after capture, or show the mouse pointer in captures.
  5. The photo is now on your desktop. The file name indicates when you captured it.
  6. If you want to copy a screenshot to the clipboard, hold Control while you capture the screenshot.

Next: How to update a Mac