How To Take A Screenshot On A MacBook Pro

Need a quick and easy way to take a screenshot?  Learn how to capture your screen on a Mac or MacBook Pro through these several different options. I also include numerous tips and tricks to change file formats, area of selection, different programs, etc.  Everything there is to know about screenshots is below, enjoy!

Let me know if there is a technique that is not covered here, or what your preferred method is?  I haven’t ever used the 3rd party apps but some seem pretty cool.

mac command button


How To Use Commands To Take Screenshots

1. Full Screen Screenshot: Command+Shift+3

This takes an image of your entire Mac screen and saves it as an image file to your desktop.  If you hold down control before command and shift, the screenshot will be saved to your clipboard, not to your desktop.  To paste the image saved to your clipboard, press command+V.

 2. Selected Area Screenshot: Command+Shift+4

This takes an image of a selected area on your Mac screen. The pointer will turn into crosshairs, then draw a rectangle around the area you want to capture.  When you release the mouse button, the screenshot will be saved. If you hold down control before command and shift, the screenshot will be saved to your clipboard, not to your desktop.  To paste the image saved to your clipboard, press command+V.

3. Screenshot Of An Open Window: Command+Shift+4+Spacebar

This will take a screenshot of any open window you select on your Mac. When you hit the spacebar the pointer will turn into a little camera.  Hover over the desired window you want o capture and click the mouse button. The screenshot of the open window will be saved to your desktop.

How To Use Terminal To Take Screenshots

Terminal App Mac You can take a screenshot using the Terminal utility on a Mac.  Copy and paste the script below to take a screen shot.

You can edit “image” below to name the image something else, or edit the “png” to change the format of the image.

screencapture -i ~/Desktop/image.png

How To Use Grab Tool To Take Screenshots

You can alternatively use the Grab Tool to take screenshots. Open the Grab Tool by going to your Dock>Applications>Utilities>Grab.Mac OS X Grab Application-Screenshot

If you want to take an image of your entire screen go to the Grab menu bar and click on Capture>Screen.  Then click on the screen you want to capture.

If you want to take an image of a selection within your Mac screen go to the Grab menu bar and click on Capture>Selection.  Then drag your mouse over the area on your screen you’d like to capture.

If you want to take an image of a particular window on your Mac go to the Grab menu bar and click on Capture>Window.  Then click your mouse over the window on your screen you’d like to capture.

When you are satisfied with your capture, choose the Save button at the top left of your screenshot.

Tip

Grab utility saves images in .tiff file format, if you want to change the format see below.
You can include the pointer in the screenshot if you go to Grab>Preferences.

How To Use The Preview App To Take Screenshots

preview on a mac

Go to Applications>Preview>File>Grab and this will allow you to take a screenshot using the Preview App.

Screenshot File Types For Different OS X Versions

Mac OS X 10.2 (Jaguar) default screenshot is jpg format.
Mac OS X 10.3 (Panther) default screenshot is pdf format.
Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) default screenshot is png format.
Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) default screenshot is png format.
Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) default screenshot is png format.
Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) default screenshot is png  format.
Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) default screenshot is png format.

How To Change The File Type Of Screenshots

Open your image in Preview by double clicking image on desktop.  Go to File>Save As and choose a different file format to save image in: jpg, tiff, pdf.

How To Use Third Party Applications To Take Screenshots

1. Jing 
Features: Online sharing feature, video recording.
2. Skitch
Features: Upload images to web, basic edit tools for your images.
3. Snapz Pro X 
Features: Records movies, tons of features, shareware.
4. Monosnap 
Features: Annotate screenshots, upload to cloud.
5. SnapNDrag 
Features: Freeware, Pro version, many different options.
6. Screen Mimic 
Features: Shareware, records animations, tutorials.

Miscellaneous Tips

Sometimes it’s a pain when you try to take a screenshot or save an image but it’s in the wrong format. Especially when there are issues with how a picture’s format interferes or works with a certain program. Luckily, it’s easy to change the automatic format of pictures when you save them on your Mac.

1. You can change the default file format by going to Terminal and copying and pasting the code below, replacing XXX with jpg, pdf, png, tiff, bmp, etc:

defaults write com.apple.screencapture type XXX
killall SystemUIServer

2. Default file name will be in the format of “Screen shot year-day-month at hour.minute.second AM/PM.png”

3. Use the space bar locks the size of the selected region

4. Use the shift key to change only one side of a selection.

5. Use the option key to resize the selection keeping the center where it is.

Featured image credit: Erwinvan20

Have any other tips to take a screenshot on your Mac, if so let us know and we will check it out. Apple is constantly evolving their settings and there are always new third party software that can help do almost anything. Just head over to the App store and browse around for some of the latest apps.