How do I take a screenshot on my Mac? There's no Print Screen button on a Mac keyboard.
It's easy to take a screenshot on a Mac. Print screen, screenshot, screengrab, screen image or screen capture - whatever you want to call it, we show how to capture an image of whatever's on your Mac's screen and save it as an editable file.
Taking a screenshot is far easier on Mac than on PC (no surprises there) with more options available, too. Here are the best ways to take a screengrab in Mac OS X. We also explain how to print screen on a Mac, replicating the Print Screen button on a PC.
How to take a screenshot on Mac: Mac screengrab shortcuts
The basics of taking a Mac screenshot are very simple:
- Hold Cmd + Shift, then press 4
- Drag crosshairs across area of screen you want to screenshot
- Screenshot appears on your desktop as a .png file, labelled as 'Screen Shot' [year]-[month]-[day] at [time]'
Holding down both Cmd (also known as the 'Apple key') and Shift, then pressing 3, will instantly grab a screen capture or screenshot of the entire Mac desktop, which will appear on the desktop as a .png image whose filename will begin with 'Screen shot' and the date and time. If you're using two screens with your Mac, two images will appear - one for each display.
(Would you prefer your screenshot as a JPG or other file format? You can drag the .png file into Photoshop, Preview or similar image viewing program, and then Save As with a different file type extension.)
We've screengrabbed the whole screen - it's tough to make out any details because most of the screenshot is wasted. We could crop this in an image-editing program, but it would be simpler to capture a smaller area in the first place
You probably don't want to screenshot the whole screen, however - most likely you just want to show someone a single interesting thing that one of your applications is up to. So, this time we'll hold the same two keys - Cmd and Shift - but press 4. Crosshairs appear in place of your cursor; click the left mouse button and drag the cursor across the screen to select a rectangle to screengrab. As before, this will appear on your desktop as a .png.
Now we've used the crosshairs to screengrab only the bit we wanted to share
It's hard to illustrate this process in action - it's tough to take a screenshot of a screenshot being taken - so I've had to resort to the old technique of 'taking a photo of the screen with my iPhone':
Apologies for the low picture quality. (The screenshot you take will be far better quality, hopefully.)
How to take a screenshot on Mac: How to capture a screenshot of a particular size
You can just about see, in the image above, that there are two numbers by the crosshairs that I've dragged over the desired screen space (near the bottom right). These are pixel numbers.
After you've pressed Shift, Cmd and 4 but before you've clicked the mouse - while you're moving the crosshairs around and deciding where to screenshot, in other words - the numbers shown will be co-ordinates indicating the crosshairs' location on the screen - the horizontal pixel number followed by the vertical pixel number.
Once you click and start dragging the selection window across your desired section of screen, the numbers will start showing the size of the selected space, which can be helpful if you want a screenshot that's 800 pixels by 450, for example.
Here's a closer (if darker) look at what you'll see while taking a Mac screenshot. If we released the mouse button at this point we would capture a (rather uninteresting) screenshot measuring 119 pixels by 70.
How to take a screenshot on Mac: Pro tips for Mac screenshots
• Once the crosshairs appear, you can let go of the keyboard keys. Once you've clicked the mouse button and started dragging the cursor, press Space, and you'll be able to move the selected area around. Hold Space and Shift and you'll be able to move it horizontally only.
• Press Escape at any time to abort the screengrab. No image will be generated or captured.
• Hold Ctrl when you drag the cursor and the resultant screengrab will be copied to the pasteboard - in other words, you'll be able to paste it into a Photoshop document or similar - instead of the desktop. Many power users will find this neater.
How to take a screenshot on Mac: Screenshot a window (with or without shadow)
What if you want to screengrab or screenshot a single window on your desktop? Instead of attempting the fiddly task of trying to line up the crosshairs exactly with the corners of the window, press Cmd, Shift, 4 as before, but when the crosshairs appear press space. The crosshairs will change into a camera icon, and the window your cursor is currently over will turn blue. (You can still move the crosshairs - whichever window is beneatsh the crosshairs will turn blue.) Click to take a screenshot of this window only - and the resulting image will have a nice shadow effect, too.
And if you don't want that shadow effect, adding the Option (or Alt) key will give you a final result without shadows. You'll feel like your fingers are playing Twister, but it works.
Here's a happy medium - an easily captured window with a nice shadow
How to take a screenshot on Mac: Screenshot a dropdown menu (or other screen furniture)
The same technique can be used to screenshot menus. Open the menu you want to screenshot, then press Cmd, Shift, 4, then press Space, and move the camera icon over the open menu dropdown. Click the mouse and you'll get a screenshot of the menu (although it won't include the title at the top of the dropdown - to screenshot that you'll need to use the standard Cmd, Shift, 4 and judge the selection by eye).
And it doesn't stop there. You can use the same technique to capture neat screenshots of other screen furniture that you might not think of as windows. Here's a screenshot of our Dock, which we grabbed in the same way - Cmd, Shift, 4 and then Space:
But you can also capture the top bar, certain elements of the top bar on the righthand side, or all the icons on your desktop (excluding top bar, Dock and wallpaper image).
How to take a screenshot on Mac: More advanced screen captures
The options above cover most screengrab eventualities. If you need to do something more advanced, try the Grab application, which you'll find under Utilities in the Applications folder.
Launch it and click Capture in the top menu; you'll see options for the usual screen captures (a small Selection, a Window, or the entire Screen, each one with a shortcut that you can use to access it in future) but also includes the handy option of timed screenshots (select Timed Screen), for when you want to set up a capture and then activate whatever it is you want to grab. The timer is 10 seconds.
How to take a screenshot on Mac: How to print screen on Mac
Now that you've captured the screen (or partial screen) that you want to print, you simply need to find the image (most of the techniques above will save it to the desktop, unless otherwise specified) and double-click to open it in Preview. Now hit Apple-P to print directly from Preview.
If you want to be more artful about the way you print the image - arranging it neatly within white space, including other images on the same printout and so on - you can drag the image on to Photoshop or open it in an Adobe InDesign document.
How to take a screenshot on Mac: Screenshots come out blank
This is not an uncommon occurrence, unfortunately.
If you've carefully followed the instructions above and you're sure the selection, window or screen that you targeted for screenshot contained graphical elements but these now aren't showing up in the image captured, the chances are that the software you were using has chosen specifically to block screenshotting functions. This is the case with Apple's DVD player software, for reasons of copyright.
You should be able to get round the problem by using either a different piece of software that does the same thing - a third-party DVD player instead of Apple's own, for instance, may avoid the issue - or a third-party piece of screenshot software. There's a list of possibilities on MacHouse, although this selection was last updated in 2011 so we'd advise caution.