How to screenshot on mac?

HotbotBy HotBotUpdated: June 20, 2024

Introduction to Screenshots on Mac

Taking screenshots on a Mac can be incredibly useful for various purposes, such as saving important information, sharing visual content, or creating tutorials. Whether you are a new Mac user or an experienced one, understanding the different methods of capturing your screen is essential. This guide will walk you through the various ways to screenshot on a Mac, covering keyboard shortcuts, advanced options, and third-party tools.

Keyboard Shortcuts for Screenshots

Capturing the Entire Screen

To capture the entire screen on a Mac, you can use the following keyboard shortcut:

Shift + Command (⌘) + 3
Pressing these keys simultaneously will capture everything displayed on your screen. The screenshot will be automatically saved to your desktop by default.

Capturing a Selected Portion of the Screen

If you want to capture only a specific part of your screen, use this shortcut:
Shift + Command (⌘) + 4
This command will change your cursor to a crosshair. You can then click and drag to select the area you wish to capture. Release the mouse button to take the screenshot, which will also be saved to your desktop.

Capturing a Specific Window

To capture a specific window rather than the entire screen or a portion of it, follow these steps:
Shift + Command (⌘) + 4, then Spacebar
Pressing these keys will change your cursor to a camera icon. Hover over the window you wish to capture and click. The screenshot will be saved to your desktop.

Advanced Screenshot Options

Using the Screenshot Toolbar

macOS Mojave (10.14) and later versions come with a built-in Screenshot toolbar that offers more flexibility. To access it, use the following shortcut:
Shift + Command (⌘) + 5
This will bring up a toolbar with various screenshot options, including capturing the entire screen, a selected window, or a specific portion. Additionally, it provides options for screen recording and setting a timer.

Customizing Screenshot Settings

By default, screenshots are saved to the desktop, but you can change the save location. To do this, open the Screenshot toolbar with Shift + Command (⌘) + 5, click "Options," and select your preferred save location. You can also set a timer for your screenshots, choose whether to show the floating thumbnail, and specify other preferences through the "Options" menu.

Annotating and Editing Screenshots

Using Preview

Once you've taken a screenshot, you might want to annotate or edit it. The Preview app on Mac offers several tools for this purpose. Open your screenshot with Preview by double-clicking it. Use the toolbar to add text, shapes, and other annotations. You can also crop, resize, and adjust the color of your screenshots.

Using the Markup Tool

If you have macOS Mojave or later, you can use the Markup tool directly from the floating thumbnail that appears after taking a screenshot. Click on the thumbnail to open the Markup interface, where you can add annotations and make quick edits.

Third-Party Screenshot Tools


Snagit is a powerful third-party application that offers advanced screenshot and screen recording capabilities. It provides extensive editing tools, making it ideal for creating detailed tutorials and presentations. Snagit also allows you to capture scrolling windows and create animated GIFs.


Lightshot is a simple and lightweight screenshot tool available for Mac. It allows you to capture any part of your screen and edit the screenshot instantly. Lightshot also offers easy sharing options, letting you upload your screenshots to the cloud and share them via a link.


Monosnap is another versatile tool that combines screenshot and screen recording features. It offers cloud storage integration, making it easy to save and share your captures. Monosnap also includes a built-in editor for adding annotations and making basic edits.

Keyboard Shortcuts Overview

Here's a quick reference table summarizing the essential keyboard shortcuts for taking screenshots on a Mac:
Action Shortcut
Capture Entire Screen Shift + Command (⌘) + 3
Capture Selected Portion Shift + Command (⌘) + 4
Capture Specific Window Shift + Command (⌘) + 4, then Spacebar
Open Screenshot Toolbar Shift + Command (⌘) + 5

Special Tips and Tricks

Capturing the Touch Bar

If you have a MacBook with a Touch Bar, you can capture an image of it using the following shortcut:
Shift + Command (⌘) + 6
This will take a screenshot of your Touch Bar, which can be useful for demonstrating settings or sharing configurations.

Saving Screenshots to Clipboard

If you want to paste your screenshot directly into another application without saving it as a file, press the Control key along with your chosen screenshot shortcut. For example:
Shift + Command (⌘) + Control + 3
This will copy the screenshot to your clipboard, allowing you to paste it using Command (⌘) + V.

Using Terminal for Advanced Commands

For users comfortable with the Terminal, you can use it to take screenshots with specific parameters. For example, the following command captures the entire screen and saves it to your desktop:
screencapture -x ~/Desktop/screenshot.png

You can customize this command with various flags and options to suit your needs.

Understanding how to take screenshots on a Mac, from basic keyboard shortcuts to advanced third-party tools, empowers you to capture and share content efficiently. This knowledge opens up a range of possibilities, allowing you to create, annotate, and share visual information with ease. The tools and methods at your disposal offer flexibility and precision, catering to both casual users and professionals.

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