There are a myriad of ways to take screenshots on Mac, whether you want to grab the entire screen, a portion of the screen or a specific window. You’ll learn these methods here as well as various other keyboard shortcuts relating to taking screenshots on Mac, changing where you save your screenshots, and more.
Capture Selected Region
Press Shift + Command + 4. The cursor becomes a crosshair that can be used to select a portion of the screen by holding down the left mouse button then dragging over the part of your screen you want to save. Release the button to take the screenshot.
Alternatively, after hitting Shift + Command + 4, you can do any of the following:
- Window Screenshot: Press the Space bar. This will make the cursor highlight whatever window it’s hovering over. You then just click the desired window you want to take a screenshot of.
- Adjust individual edges of selected area: After selecting the area you want to screenshot by dragging with the left mouse button, keep holding the button while holding the Shift key. This will lock in the left, right and top edges of your highlighted area, letting you exclusively adjust the bottom edge.Let go of the Shift key while still holding the left mouse button to toggle the edge you’re adjusting to the right edge. You can toggle between the right and bottom edges as much as you like using the Shift key.
- Fix highlighted screenshot area: To fix the size of your highlighted screenshot area and move the square around the screen, press and hold the Space bar once you’ve highlighted an area to move the area around on the screen. Let go of the Space bar and the left mouse button to take the screenshot.
Screenshot Options Panel
Shift + Command + 5: As of macOS Mojave, this keyboard shortcut will bring up a panel across the bottom of your screen showing several different screenshot options including one to capture the entire screen, a highlighted area, or a specific window.
Over on the right side, this panel lets you choose where to save your screenshots, and also set up a delay timer of 5-10 seconds. This is extremely handy if you need to line up some things on your screen first, which can take a few seconds.
You can click and drag this whole panel around anywhere on your screen for convenience.
Capture the Entire Screen
Shift + Command + 3: If you don’t want to just capture a specific window, but the entire screen, then this is the command you need. It will capture the entire screen from the menu bar across the top of your screen to the dock at the bottom.
Capture Touch Bar (MacBook Pro)
Shift + Command + 6: This one’s exclusively for those of you lucky enough to have a MacBook Pro model with the touchbar just above the keyboard. This command will capture everything in your touchbar, saving the screenshot as a thin strip.
Copy Screenshot to Clipboard
Hold the Control key when invoking any screenshot command (Control + Command + 4, for example) to copy the screenshot to your clipboard instead of saving it to your Desktop.
The macOS built-in keyboard shortcuts cover almost every screenshot use case, but there’s one thing they’re missing: timed screenshots and screenshots with the cursor. That’s where Grab comes in. While it’s a limited app, its key feature is to extend the screenshot functionality minimally. Here’s how Grab works.
1. Open Grab from “Applications/Utilities” or Spotlight.
2. Grab has no UI, just a menu bar. Click on the “Capture” menu in the menu bar and choose the type of capture you’d like to make.
Pro-tip: Only “Timed Screen” is unique to Grab. The other three modes can be done with screenshot shortcuts and modifier keys, as seen above.
3. If you selected “Timed Screen,” a context window will pop up allowing you to start the five-second timer when you’re ready. Click “Start Timer” to begin the countdown. If you’ve selected a cursor in “Grab -> Preferences,” you’ll see that cursor in the screenshot.
4. The screenshot you’ve taken will appear in a new window. The file is not yet saved. You’ll need to save it with a name and location yourself.
The last and most secret screenshot tool in macOS is Preview. This does a lot of what Grab does, but better. It can capture timed screenshots with the system’s cursor and allows for immediate annotation with Preview’s Markup tools.
1. After opening Preview, click “File -> Take Screenshot …” and choose a screenshot option.
“From Window” and “From Selection” work just like the corresponding shortcuts. “From Entire Screen” will start a timed screen capture of all attached displays.
2. If you selected “From Entire Screen,” wait for the counter to finish.
3. Edit the screenshot as desired, then save it.
Once you’re done taking screenshots on Mac, why not take a look at some of the best drawing apps out there for Mac. Or if you want to try out Android apps and games on Mac, see our list of the best Android emulators for macOS.
This article was first published in June 2011 and was updated in July 2020.