In case you’ve recently switched from Windows to macOS, you may find it confusing to take screenshots on a Mac. Sure, there isn’t. Print screen key on the keyboard plus. But there are several keyboard shortcuts you can use instead. With the right shortcut you can take screenshots of a single window, an entire screen or a specific part of it.
If you’ve upgraded to macOS Mojave or later, you can use the Screenshot app to capture various parts of the screen or even record video of it. You can find it in the Utilities section of the Applications folder. For older versions of macOS, you can use the built-in Grab utility.
However, for all versions of macOS, using macOS keyboard commands is still the easiest and fastest way to take screenshots.
How to take screenshots of your Mac’s screen
- To capture the entire screen, press and hold the key Command + Shift + 3 key combination. You can then find the screenshot on the desktop. To cancel taking a screenshot, press ESC (Esc) before clicking to acquire it.
- In macOS Mojave or later, you will see a screenshot thumbnail appear in the corner of the screen. You can click on it to edit it, move it or just wait for it to disappear.
Take a screenshot of a single window
- If you want a screenshot of just an active window, click Command + Shift + 4 keys. You will see your pointer turn into a crosshair.
- Now press the Space bar. When the pointer changes to a camera icon, hover over the window you are trying to capture. After seeing that window highlighted, click on it to take the screenshot.
Take a screenshot of a specific area
- To capture a portion of the screen, press Command + Shift + 4 keys. Then you will see the pointer become a crosshair.
- Select the area you want to capture and click on it to take a screenshot.
- If you’ve upgraded to macOS Mojave or later, use a different shortcut. Click the Command + Shift + 5 keys. Then select the part of the screen you want to capture.
- After taking a screenshot, you can choose where to save it from the menu.
Take a screenshot of the menu
If you need to take screenshots of a specific Mac menu, you can also use a keyboard shortcut.
- First, click on the menu. Press the same key combination as above – Command + Shift + 4. Then drag to select a specific area of the menu you want to capture.
- To get a full menu screen, press Command + Shift + 4 and then the Space bar. When the pointer changes to a camera mark, hover over the menu and click on it to get the screenshot.
What to do if the keyboard shortcuts don’t work
If you are unable to take screenshots using these shortcuts, it is possible that they are disabled on your computer. To fix it, follow these steps:
- Open the Apple menu in the upper left corner of the screen.
- Choose System Preferences > Keyboard.
- Click on Shortcuts. So choose Screenshots from the menu on the left.
- To enable shortcuts, check all boxes.
You can customize your shortcuts by changing the key combinations in the menu.
If the shortcuts still don’t work or if your screenshots turn out blank, it could be due to copyright issues with the third-party app on the screen.
You can fix it by using one of the special apps for taking screenshots on Mac.
Where to find your screenshots
When you take a screenshot, it is automatically saved to the desktop. Your Mac will stamp the time with the date and time it was taken and save it as a PNG file. For instance,
It’s useful as a reference, but if you’re taking multiple screenshots it can cause a serious desktop clutter. If your computer is running macOS Catalina, you can solve the problem using the file Fleece characteristic.
Right-click on the desktop and choose Use batteries from the menu. It will automatically group similar screens. In older versions of macOS, you will have to use third-party apps or declutter manually by dragging screenshots to the trash.
Keep the screenshot in the clipboard
By default, all your screenshots are saved on the desktop. Alternatively, you can copy them to the clipboard for future use.
To do this, press and hold Check key while using the keyboard shortcut for screen capture. This will create a copy of your screenshot that you can share, message, or paste into any document. Using the Universal Clipboard, you can then move it to another Apple device.
If you need to edit your screenshot, open it with any image editing app like Preview. Using Preview you can also change the format of your screenshot by exporting it as JPEG, PDF or TIFF.
Become a MacOS Power User
Some people think that knowing and using keyboard shortcuts is only for power users and that an average user doesn’t need them. It just isn’t true. Most macOS keyboard shortcuts are easy to memorize and are extremely useful in your daily computing experience.
Start by learning the simple combination from this article and you will see how quickly you will become an advanced user. Or take it a step further and learn more tips and tricks for taking screenshots like a pro.