Taking a screenshot on your Mac is simple enough, but there are elements of the process that remain mysterious. Beginners may not realise where the screenshot is stored, since by default it goes to the desktop rather than to the pasteboard (as on Windows). But even quite advanced users may not be aware that you can change the destination.

In this article we show how to change where Mac screenshots are saved.

Where are screenshots saved on Mac?

By default, Mac screenshots are saved to the desktop.

However, if you were to use an app such as Grab (which is included with macOS: find it in Utilities in the Applications folder) to take your screenshots they might end up elsewhere. Grab is likely to save them to your Documents folder, and if you don't change the name of the image it will save as Untitled.

How to change where Mac screenshots are saved

It's reasonably easy to tell macOS to save screenshots somewhere else: in a folder labelled Screengrabs, for example. In the following example we'll assume we've created a desktop folder called exactly that, but you can change this process for different locations provided you know the file path.

  1. Open the Terminal app. It's listed under Utilities in the Applications folder.
  2. Type "defaults write com.apple.screencapture location ~/Desktop/Screengrabs" and then press Enter. (Don't include the quotation marks. Change the command depending on the location you wish to use.)
  3. Next, type "killall SystemUIServer" (again, no quotation marks) and press Enter again.

How to change where Mac screenshots are saved: Terminal

Take a couple of screenshots to check it's working.

If you'd like to revert to the default screenshot location, go back to Terminal and type "defaults write com.apple.screencapture location ~/Desktop" (with no quotation marks) and hit Enter. Then type "killall SystemUIServer" (no quotes) and hit Enter one last time.

How to change where Mac screenshots are saved: Terminal

Save screenshots to the pasteboard

The Print Screen function on a Windows PC works a bit differently to Mac.

Instead of saving a screenshot direct to the desktop, it saves it to the pasteboard. You then need to open Photoshop, Paint or whichever image-editing app you prefer, create a new document, and paste the screenshot on to it.

If you wish, you can replicate this function on a Mac by changing the keys you hold when taking the screenshot.

Once you've used Cmd + Shift + 4 to create the crosshairs, hold Ctrl while dragging the cursor across the desired area. 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.

  1. Hold down Cmd + Shift, then press 4.
  2. Hold Ctrl, then drag crosshairs across area of screen you want to screenshot.
  3. Screenshot is saved to pasteboard.