How to Change the Screenshot File Format on Your Mac

By default, OS X saves every screenshot that you capture on your Mac as a PNG file. PNG stands for Portable Network Graphics and is a lossless format that can retain the quality of the image. The only drawback of this format is the files tend to be larger than the other formats (like jpg) which may not be convenient for those who want to upload their screenshots to the web. It doesn’t help improve loading times for the websites.

You may not be aware of it, but there’s a little trick that lets you change the screenshot file format on your Mac. Yes, once you do the trick, the screenshots that you capture on your machine will be saved in your chosen format instead of the default PNG format. The trick requires the use of Terminal to issue a command that tells the system to change the format for the screenshots taken on the machine.

Follow the steps below to accomplish the task:

Changing the Screenshot File Format on a Mac

First you need to launch Terminal on your Mac. To do that, click on Launchpad in your dock and then search for and click on “Terminal”.


When Terminal launches, type the following command into it and press Enter. This changes the file format to JPG.


You can now try capturing a screenshot on your Mac using the “Command + Shift + 3” combo, and you should see the screenshot saved in the JPG format instead of PNG.

OS X supports a number of file formats that you can set as your screenshot formats. To use a format other than PNG and JPG, you can use the below commands:


GIF images are usually low-quality images that do not retain the full quality in which the image was captured. It’s good if you don’t want the viewers of your screenshot to pay attention to the little details in your image.


It stands for Tagged Image File Format and is usually used for high-quality images. To turn your future screenshots into this format, use the following command:


PDF is usually used for documents, and you can have your screenshots saved into this format using the below command:

Reverting Back 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 format, you can revert back to the original format using the simple command given below. Just run the following command in Terminal just like the above commands and it will get your screenshot format settings back to the default.

You are now back to the original file format.


While most users don’t care what format their screenshots are saved in as long as they are viewable, some users prefer tweaking around to see what format works the best for them. The above tip should help you do exactly that on your Mac. Let us know what format worked the best for you!


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