How To Take a Screenshot on Your Mac

January 20, 2020 - (Freeware)

If your workflow requires taking regular screenshots on your Mac, then you’ll need to know four keyboard shortcuts. Two of the four have been around forever, and macOS Mojave added a new screenshot tool and keyboard shortcut. Let us review your screenshot options on a Mac.

1. Specific application window

  1. To capture a specific application window, press and hold Command-Shift-4 then tap on the Spacebar. The cursor will change to a camera, and you can move it around the screen. As you move the cursor over an application window, the window will be highlighted. The entire window does not need to be visible for you to capture it. When you have the cursor over a window you want to capture, just click the mouse button and the screenshot will be saved as a PNG file on your desktop.
  2. To copy specific application window, press and hold Command-Control-Shift-4 then tap on the Spacebar. The cursor will change to a camera, which you can move around the screen. As you move the cursor over an application window, the window will be highlighted. The entire window does not need to be visible for you to capture it. When you have the cursor over a window you want to capture, just click the mouse button and you can paste the screenshot into another application.

2. Capture a single window

Step 1: Press the Command + Shift + 4 keys simultaneously so that your pointer becomes a crosshair.

Step 2: Press the Spacebar. The pointer will change to a camera icon.

Step 3: You’ll notice that any window you hover over will now be highlighted in blue. This indicates that only this window will be captured in your screenshot.

Step 4: Click on the window you want to screenshot and an image of it will be saved to the desktop.

This method doesn’t just capture windows — you can save the desktop, the menu bar, the Dock, or even an open menu by itself.

The image you saved will be a transparent PNG of the window, along with its shadow. If you don’t want the shadow to be included, press and hold the Option key (labeled as Alt on some Mac keyboards) as you click to save the image.

As with other screenshot methods, add Control to the key combination to ensure the image is saved to the clipboard instead of your desktop.

3. Use the screenshot thumbnail

When you take a screenshot in macOS Mojave or later, a thumbnail of the screenshot appears briefly in the lower-right corner of your screen.

  • Take no action or swipe the thumbnail to the right: The screenshot is automatically saved to your chosen save location, which by default is the desktop.
  • Control-click the thumbnail to choose more actions, such as change the default save location, open the screenshot in an app, or delete the screenshot without saving it.
  • Drag the thumbnail to move the screenshot to another location, such as to a document, an email, a Finder window, or the Trash.
  • Click the thumbnail to open the screenshot. You can then use the markup tools in the toolbar to crop, rotate, annotate, and take other editing actions. Or click the share button to share the screenshot.

Clicking the thumbnail opens it in the editing view. Hover your pointer over each button in the toolbar to see its function.

  • If you don’t want the thumbnail to appear, click Options in the onscreen controls, then use the ”Show Floating Thumbnail” option to change the setting.

4. Capture the entire screen

Step 1: Press the Command + Shift + 3 keys simultaneously.

Step 2: That will save a copy of your screen to your desktop. You can alternatively press the same combination with the Control key in order to save the image to your clipboard.

In macOS Catalina, a preview of the screenshot will appear in the corner of your screen giving you quick access to editing tools. You can also take advantage of the “Stacks” feature, which groups together similar files on your desktop, such as screenshots. To do so, just right-click on your desktop then click Use Stacks, and all of them will be quickly grouped together.

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