How to Easily Take a Screenshot on a Mac

Two hands making a square shape to represent taking a screenshot on a Mac

Written by Chris Mayhew

August 18, 2021

Many people take screenshots for different reasons, whether you take screenshots of your shopping cart to remember all the items or take them to show someone how to do something. Regardless of needing to take a screenshot, a beneficial tool is knowing how to take one on your Mac. The hardest part of taking a screenshot is simply knowing what keyboard shortcuts are needed and the additional options in the process. This article will discuss how to take a screenshot on a Mac and those additional options.

Capture the Entire Screen

In most cases, taking screenshots of the entire screen of your Mac is the quickest and easiest way to capture what you are seeing. To take a screenshot of the entire screen, do the following:

  1. Press ⌘ (Command) + Shift + 3

The above keyboard shortcut will take a picture of everything that is currently visible on your screen.

If the volume is turned up on your machine, you will hear a camera shutter sound when the entire screen is captured. In the newer macOS, a preview of the screenshot will appear in the bottom right-hand corner. If nothing is done, it will save it to your desktop. You can also double click on the preview image and have more options, such as sharing or opening in Preview.

Pro Tip: It works best to hold the command keys (command, shift, option, etc.) down before tapping the number or letter key. For example, when looking to capture the entire screen, hold down Shift + Command and tap the 3 key.

Capture a Portion of the Screen

Sometimes you may want to take a screenshot of only part of the screen. This is also an easy way to capture what you are seeing.

  1. Press ⌘ (Command) + Shift + 4

When using this option to capture a screenshot, you will get crosshairs to click and drag a box around the item you would like to capture. If at any time you need to cancel, tap the escape key.

Pro Tip: Start with your crosshair in the corner of what you want to capture in your screenshot. Then click and drag your mouse or trackpad button down and drag a box to the opposite corner. Once you let go of your mouse or trackpad button, the Mac will capture the screenshot. So continue to press and hold the button down until you are ready to take the screenshot.

Capture a Specific Window

Sometimes when taking a screenshot, you only want to capture a window you are currently working on. Capturing a specific window is the screenshot option we tend to use the most because there is no dragging involved, making it easier for the user. To take a screenshot on a Mac using this method is the same as only capturing a portion of the screen.

  1. Press ⌘ (Command) + Shift + 4
  2. Tap the Space Bar (the crosshairs will turn into a camera)
  3. Click the mouse or trackpad button in the window you want to capture

Like taking a screenshot of a portion of the screen, your cursor will turn into crosshairs. However, once you tap the space bar, those crosshairs change into a camera icon. This camera icon is your visual representation that you are ready to picture a window on the screen.

Pro Tip: Have the window you want to capture be the top layer of your windows. Click on it to bring it to the front before attempting to capture the window screenshot.

Where Screenshots Are Saved On a Mac

When you take screenshots on a Mac, a thumbnail will appear in newer versions of macOS in the bottom right corner once the screenshot has been captured. You can double-click the screenshot thumbnail and edit it, share it, or save it to a specific location. If you choose to do nothing with the screenshot, the Desktop is the default save location, easy for the user to find.

In some instances, if you are using a cloud storage service like Dropbox, that application may ask you if you’d like to save your screenshots on their cloud services during the setup process. If this option is left selected during that process, Dropbox will automatically save your screenshots, and they will not appear on your Desktop. Typically in Dropbox, there will be in a folder titled Screenshots.

Conclusion

Taking screenshots is a skill that comes in handy for many different tasks, from sharing your screen to troubleshooting technical difficulties. The key is knowing what keyboard shortcuts to use to complete the task. In this blog post, you’ve learned how to take the most common types of screenshots on a Mac and even some advanced tips like capturing specific windows or portions of the screen.

If there are any other cool tricks we missed out on, let us know! Don’t forget to follow our social media channels, where we share all sorts of helpful content from various sources.

Need additional training for you our your team, call us and lets discuss your needs.

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