Software

How do I take a screenshot on a Mac?

Screenshot on a Mac
Capture snippets of the screen using the crosshair tool

Be it a spaghetti bolognese recipe, funny tweet you want to save for posterity or a still from your favourite film on Netflix, taking a screenshot on a Mac couldn’t be simpler. Plus, there are handy tools to capture just the most important snippets of the screen and open windows to reduce the need for time-consuming editing afterwards.

The simplest method is to save a shot of your entire screen, warts and all. This is achieved by pressing Shift+Command (⌘)+3. The screenshot will then automatically be saved as a PNG file to your desktop.

For a more specific screenshot, press Shift+Command+4. This will transform the cursor into a sniper-like crosshair. You can then drag the crosshair across the portion of the screen you want to save – without having to keep the Shift or Command keys held down.

If you’ve changed your mind and want to change your cursor back without generating a PNG, press Esc.

If you don’t trust your aim, your friends at Apple have kindly included a built-in tool to capture an open window, free of extraneous detail. Again, press Shift+Command+4 to change your cursor into a crosshair. Once that’s done, tap the spacebar to transform the cursor again – this time into a black camera icon. Move the icon over a window to highlight it in blue and click the mouse. Hey presto, you have an image of The Big Tech Question on 16 August 2017 to print off, frame and hang on your living room wall.

Save yourself the hassle of editing by capturing a whole window

Usefully, you can also use this technique to capture your toolbar, open menus (see below) and even the battery indicator.

If you’re lucky enough to have a Mac with the futuristic Touch Bar and are running macOS Sierra 10.12.2 or later, you can also take a screenshot of the Touch Bar by pressing Shift+Command+6.

Top tip: If you don’t want your desktop to become cluttered with botched screenshots, you can save them to your Clipboard instead by adding the Control key to all of the key combinations above (for example, Control+Shift+Command+3 to capture the whole screen).

About the author

Max Figgett

Max has written for numerous websites and magazines over the years. Whether it’s about ancient hardware or software secrets, no Big Tech Question is too obscure for him to tackle.

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  • “If you’re lucky enough to have a Mac with the futuristic Touch Bar and are running macOS Sierra 10.12.2 or later, you can also take a screenshot of the Touch Bar by pressing Shift+Command+6.”

    And, speaking of the touch bar, the easiest way of taking screenshots is to add the screenshot option to the touch bar. One touch of that then breaks up a selection of options of how to take it (entire screen, window, area, etc) and where to save it. Assuming you want to use your default setup (mine is the current window to the desktop) you can do it in 2 presses of the touch bar.

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