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4 Useful Ways to Take Screenshots on Mac

MacBook on a table

MacBook on a table WML Image/Shutterstock

Have you ever bought a Mac but don’t know how to take screenshots? Or maybe you’ve been using a laptop for a while and wondered how other Mac users capture their screens, especially if you’ve been a Windows user in the past. While taking a screenshot on a Mac is not difficult, it seems possible, since there is no dedicated PrtSc

button on a Mac keyboard. So, are there hidden apps or third-party apps that can be used instead? It turns out you have a few options that might help in specific situations, but you have to be familiar with where “Cmd” is, Shift, and the number keys on the keyboard. MacBooks are easy to use, but very different from Windows laptops. For example, while Windows laptops come in many different shapes and sizes, Apple’s MacBook line is more streamlined. If you want an entry-level model for everyday tasks, look no further than the MacBook Air. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something more powerful, the MacBook Pro is the way to go. Depending on the Mac model you are using, you can take screenshots in four different ways.

Capture the entire screen using a keyboard shortcut or the Touch Bar

The easiest way to take a screenshot on a Mac is to press Shift + Cmd + 3. No complicated menus, no need to drag and hold the mouse, just press three keys at the same time. This shortcut tells macOS to take a screenshot of the entire screen, capturing everything on the display at that moment. Also, if you are using multiple monitors at the same time, the shortcut will save screenshots of all monitors.

Once you take a screenshot, the image will appear as a floating thumbnail towards the bottom right corner of the display, something like depending on how it appears on your iPhone or iPad. Now you can click on the thumbnail to edit the screenshot, or wait a few seconds until it saves to your desktop. If your Mac has a Touch Bar, you can set a screenshot button on the control bar . Go to the Apple menu, choose System Preferences, Keyboard, click Keyboard again, and finally click Customize Control Strip (via Apple). Click Add Button and use the trackpad or connected mouse to drag the screenshot button from the screen to the control bar. Once you put the screenshot button on the control strip, click Done and that’s it. After that, whenever you need to take a screenshot, tap the screenshot button on the Touch Bar instead of pressing all three keys at the same time.

Use these shortcuts to capture specific parts of the screen Touch Bar on MacBook Pro

Assuming you don’t want to capture the entire screen; in this case, press Shift + Cmd + 4 to capture a specific portion. As long as you press the key, your cursor will turn into a crosshair. You can use the crosshairs to drag and select a specific part of the screen to capture. Move the crosshairs to where you want to start the screenshot, click and drag to the desired area, and release the mouse or trackpad to take the screenshot. Press the Esc key to reselect before releasing the cursor.

Now you can use the Shift + Cmd + 4 command to perform some operations. After pressing three keys, you can press the space bar once to take a screenshot of the window on the desktop (via Apple). Once you press the space bar, the crosshair will turn into the camera. When you hover this camera over the window, it highlights the area. You can then click your mouse or trackpad to take a screenshot. While pressing the space bar once allows you to capture a window, after you create an area Holding it down the crosshairs will lock its dimensions, making it easier for you to move the rectangular selection box. Likewise, hold down the Shift key after selecting an area to adjust its length and width. So, you can take a screenshot in four different ways using the Shift + Cmd + 4 key combination.

Use the screenshot menu

So far, we’ve told you how to take a screenshot in three different ways: creating a Touch Bar shortcut, taking the entire screen with Shift + Cmd + 3, and Shift + Cmd + 4 Capture selected area. For the fourth method, we’ll introduce you to the screenshot menu added to macOS Mojave in 2018. Users who wish to change screenshot settings or record what their Mac displays may prefer the screenshot menu. To invoke the screenshot menu, you must press Shift + Cmd + 5, and a rectangular menu will appear at the bottom of the display, just above the Dock.

By default, the screenshot menu is displayed with seven icons. Starting from the left, the first three icons are used to capture the entire screen, a specific window or part of the screen, respectively. The next two icons are used to record the entire screen or specific parts as a video. Then there’s the Options icon, which lets you decide where to save your screenshots, whether to use a timer, and whether you want the system to remember your last choice. This menu also includes a “Show Floating Thumbnails” option if you don’t want your screenshots to appear as floating thumbnails when clicked. The last icon is for capturing a screenshot immediately, which is useful when you’re using the screenshot selection crosshair (via Apple).

Some useful tips for taking and saving screenshots on Mac


By default, macOS saves the screenshot on your desktop with the name “Screen Shot [date] at [time].png”, but it will first show you a preview thumbnail for a few seconds. If you capture screenshots frequently, it would be wise to create a separate folder on your desktop. However, if you want to change the default location where screenshots are saved, you can do so in the Screenshots menu. To open the menu, press Shift + Cmd + 5, Touch Bar on MacBook Pro Select the options icon and choose from multiple locations such as Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Clipboard, Mail and Messages. You can also set a screenshot timer using the screenshot menu. Timers are available in the options menu above. It will give you a 5 or 10 second interval before taking a screenshot so you can organize your desktop the way you want. On the official support page, Apple mentions that some apps like Apple TV+ may not allow you to take screenshots. Also, if you wish to copy the screenshot to the clipboard for later use, hold Control while taking the screenshot. Last but not least, if you have a Mac with a Touch Bar and you want to take a screenshot of what’s in the Touch Bar, press Shift + Cmd + 6.



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