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
- Changing the Screenshot Format to JPG
- Changing the Screenshot Format to GIF
- Changing the Screenshot Format to TIFF
- Changing the Screenshot Format to PDF
- Reverting to the Original Screenshot File Format
- Using the Preview App to Change the Screenshot File Format
- Change the Screenshot File Format Using a Third-Party App
- Frequently Asked Questions
Changing the Screenshot File Format on a Mac
Launch Terminal on your Mac by opening Spotlight and searching for and clicking on “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 com.apple.screencapture type jpg;killall SystemUIServer
Try capturing a screenshot using the Command + Shift + 3 combo. You should see the screenshot saved in the JPG format instead of PNG.
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 com.apple.screencapture 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 com.apple.screencapture 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 com.apple.screencapture 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 com.apple.screencapture 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:
- Start by clicking on a screenshot to automatically open it in Preview.
- 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.
- From the export window, tap on the drop-down menu to the right of “Format.”
- 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.
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.
- Visit the Pixillion download page and click the red “Mac Download” button.
- 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.
- Open the Pixillion app from the Launchpad or the Applications folder in the Finder.
- Before you convert your screenshot, be sure to click on the “Output Format” drop-down menu highlighted below to choose the “JPG” format.
- Click on the “Add File(s)” button in the upper-left corner to select images to convert.
- Click the blue “Open” button.
- Select your screenshot image from the dialog menu and click the “Convert” button in the bottom-right corner.
- The converted image will appear under the “Recents” tab in Finder.
Other Popular Photo Conversion Apps
- PhotoConvert 5 (free trial, $9.99 USD)
- BatchPhoto (free trial, $29.95 USD)
- IMT Image Converter (free trial, $19.95 USD)
- Graphic Converter for Mac ($19.95 USD)
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
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