How to Change the Screenshot File Format to JPG on Mac

Mte Feat Mac Photo

When taking a screenshot on your Mac, you may notice that macOS saves all screenshots in the PNG (Portable Network Graphics) format by default. While this lossless format can retain the quality of an image, the files tend to be larger than the other formats (like .jpg), which causes longer loading times. Luckily, there’s a little trick that lets you change the screenshot file format on your Mac to .jpg.

The trick requires the use of Terminal, which issues a command that tells the Mac to change the screenshot file format to .jpg. This tutorial walks you through the process.

Changing the Screenshot File Format on a Mac

Launch Terminal on your Mac by opening Spotlight and searching for and clicking on “Terminal.”

Mac Spotlight Terminal

Changing the Screenshot Format to JPG

The most common photo file type is JPEG, also known as JPG. To change the default screenshot format from PNG to JPG, type the following command into Terminal and press Enter:

defaults write type jpg;killall SystemUIServer
Mac Terminal To Jpg

Try capturing a screenshot using the Command + Shift + 3 combo. You should see the screenshot saved in the JPG format instead of PNG.

Mac Jpeg Image Proof

Changing the Screenshot Format to GIF

GIF images are usually low-quality images that do not retain the full quality of the image that was captured. It’s a good option if the little details of the image aren’t important.

defaults write type gif;killall SystemUIServer

Changing the Screenshot Format to TIFF

TIFF stands for Tagged Image File Format. It’s a format usually saved for high-quality images. To make your screenshots use this format, use the following command:

defaults write type tiff;killall SystemUIServer

Changing the Screenshot Format to PDF

PDF is usually used for documents. You can have your screenshots saved to this format using the below command:

defaults write type PDF;killall SystemUIServer

Reverting to the Original Screenshot File Format

If you tried all of the above file formats but nothing seemed to work as great as the default PNG format, you can revert back to PNG as the default by running the following command in Terminal, just as explained above.

defaults write type png;killall SystemUIServer

Using the Preview App to Change the Screenshot File Format

To change a screenshot’s file format using the Preview app, follow the instructions below:

  1. Start by clicking on a screenshot to automatically open it in Preview.
Mac Screenshot Preview
  1. Navigate to the menu bar, select “File” and click on “Export … ” from the drop-down menu. If you’re having trouble locating items in the menu bar, you can explore how to customize the menu bar.
Mac Screenshot Export Menu Bar
  1. From the export window, tap on the drop-down menu to the right of “Format.”
Mac Screenshot File Type Select
  1. Choose your desired file format from the list menu and click the blue “Save” button. We’re choosing to export to the JPEG file format.
Mac Screenshot File Save

Change the Screenshot File Format Using a Third-Party App

Looking for a straightforward solution or a more intuitive workflow? You can download a number of free photo converter apps to take advantage of user-friendly interfaces that will quickly convert your PNG screenshots to JPG photos. Follow the steps below to use the Pixillion Image Converter software to change the file format.

  1. Visit the Pixillion download page and click the red “Mac Download” button.
Ventura Mac Download Button
  1. Double-click on the “Pixillion_i.dmg” file from the downloads list in your browser to initiate the installation process. Follow the onscreen instructions to complete the installation.
Ventura Mac Download Pixillion
  1. Open the Pixillion app from the Launchpad or the Applications folder in the Finder.
Ventura Pixillion App
  1. Before you convert your screenshot, be sure to click on the “Output Format” drop-down menu highlighted below to choose the “JPG” format.
Pixillion Output Format
  1. Click on the “Add File(s)” button in the upper-left corner to select images to convert.
Pixillion Add Files
  1. Click the blue “Open” button.
Ventura Pixillion Add Files Open
  1. Select your screenshot image from the dialog menu and click the “Convert” button in the bottom-right corner.
Ventura Pixillion Convert
  1. The converted image will appear under the “Recents” tab in Finder.

Other Popular Photo Conversion Apps

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a way to configure screenshot file formats without using Terminal?

Unfortunately, no. You can do many things with the built-in Screenshot app on your Mac but cannot configure file formats before you shoot unless you use the Terminal app.

How can I reduce the file size of my screenshots without impacting quality?

You may want to share several JPG screenshots over email or another service. To reduce the file size of one or multiple screenshots, compress the JPG files by selecting them followed by a two-finger click or right click. From the drop-down menu that appears, select “Compress.”

If I want a transparent background for my screenshot, which file format should I use?

macOS captures screenshots in PNG format by default. PNG files not only offer higher quality but also feature transparent backgrounds, making them ideal for use with image-editing software or inside presentations.

Image credit: Unsplash All screenshots taken by Brahm Shank

Brahm Shank
Brahm Shank

Self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur and tech enthusiast Brahm Shank is captivated by the impact of consumer tech: “It’s profoundly moving when people discover that the phone in their pocket or the tiny computer on their wrist has the power to enrich their lives in ways they never imagined.” Apple, Inc. and its unique position at the intersection of technology and the creative arts, resonates deeply with Brahm and his passion for helping people unleash their potential using technology. Over the years, Brahm has held various podcasts - including famed technologist David Pogue of The New York Times on topics such as Big Tech and digital wellness.

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