How to Take a Screenshot on Your Mac Featured Image

How to Take a Screenshot on Your Mac: 4 Best Ways

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Last updated: September 6, 2023

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Capturing screenshots on a Mac is a fundamental skill that can come in handy if you want to share information, document a problem, or simply preserve a visual moment on your screen. Mac provides multiple built-in methods for taking screenshots.

In this guide, I’ll explore the best ways to take a screenshot on your Mac. From capturing the entire screen to selecting specific areas or windows, these methods offer flexibility and convenience. So, let’s dive in and discover the most efficient ways to take a screenshot on your Mac!

What Is a Screenshot on Mac?

A screenshot on a Mac refers to capturing an image of the current screen or a portion of it. It’s a useful feature that allows you to save, share, or document what you see on your Mac’s display.

You can take several types of screenshots on a Mac. Here are some common types:

  1. 🖥️ Full Screen: This type captures the entire contents of your screen, including all open windows and applications. It gives you a snapshot of everything visible on your display.
  2. 🖼️ Selected Area: With this type, you can capture a specific portion of your screen. You can select a rectangular area by clicking and dragging the cursor, capturing only what you need and excluding the rest.
  3. 🌌 Selected Window: This type allows you to capture screenshots of a specific window or application. You can choose the window you want to capture, and the screenshot will include only that particular window, excluding everything else on the screen.
  4. ⌨️ Touch Bar: If you have a MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar, you can take a screenshot of the Touch Bar itself. This type of screenshot is useful for documenting the current state or appearance of the Touch Bar.
  5. ⏱️ Timed Screenshots: Mac also offers a timed screenshot option. When you initiate a screenshot, you can add a delay of 5 or 10 seconds, giving you time to set up the screen or open a specific window before the screenshot is taken. This is particularly useful if you need to capture menus or other dynamic elements.

These are the primary types of screenshots on a Mac, but there may be additional options or variations depending on the specific operating system version or any third-party software you have installed.

4 Ways to Take a Screenshot on Your Mac

Mac offers a range of built-in options to capture and preserve images of your screen. Below, I’ve shared different methods that you can use to take a screenshot on your Mac.

1. Take a Screenshot on Your Mac With Keyboard Shortcuts

While various methods exist to take a screenshot on your Mac, mastering keyboard shortcuts can significantly enhance productivity and efficiency. To use these shortcuts, you need to press the corresponding keys simultaneously.

Below, I’ve shared some common keyboard shortcuts you can use to take a screenshot on your Mac.

a. Capture Full Screen on Your Mac

To capture the full screen on your Mac, press the following keys simultaneously:

Command ⌘ + Shift ⇧ + 3

macbook pro command shift 3

This shortcut captures a screenshot of the entire screen. You should hear a camera shutter sound, and the screenshot will save as a .png file on your desktop.

b. Capture a Portion of the Screen on Your Mac

If you want to take a screenshot on your Mac but only for a portion, you can use the following key combo:

Command ⌘ + Shift ⇧ + 4

macbook pro shift command 4

Using this keyboard combination, your Mac’s cursor transforms into a crosshair, enabling you to effortlessly select a desired area on your screen for capturing purposes. Simply drag the crosshair to capture the desired portion, and release the mouse or trackpad to take the screenshot instantly.

To move the selection, you can press and hold the Space bar while dragging.

macbook pro spacebar

To cancel taking the screenshot, press the Esc (Escape) key.

macbook pro esc key

There are different variations in taking this type of screenshot. For instance:

  1. Press and release the space bar: Press and release the space bar after using the initial keyboard combo (Command ⌘ + Shift ⇧ + 4) to transform the crosshair into a camera icon. You can freely move this camera icon over any open window. Clicking the desired window instantly captures its screenshot, featuring a white border and a subtle drop shadow.
  2. Press and hold the space bar: Hold the space bar after dragging to highlight an area before releasing the mouse or trackpad. It will lock in the shape and size of the selection area while letting you reposition it. So, if your initial selection is slightly off, simply hold down the space bar, reposition the area, and release the mouse or trackpad to capture the screenshot.
  3. Hold down the Shift ⇧ key: Hold down the Shift ⇧ key after dragging to highlight an area before releasing the mouse or trackpad. It will lock in each side of the selection area except for the bottom edge, allowing you to move your mouse up or down to position the bottom edge as desired.
macbook air shift key

If you wish to reposition the right edge of the selection area, don’t release the mouse button, but release the Shift ⇧ key and press it again. You can adjust the bottom and right edges by keeping the mouse or trackpad engaged and pressing the Shift ⇧ key.

c. Capture a Window or Menu

If you want to take a screenshot on your Mac for a specific window or menu, you can use the following key combo:

Command ⌘+ Shift ⇧ + 4 + Space

macbook pro command shift 4 spacebar

This shortcut allows you to capture a specific window on your screen. Once you enter this shortcut, your cursor will turn into a camera icon, and you can click the window you want to capture.

To cancel taking the screenshot, press the Esc (Escape) key.

macbook pro esc key

If you wish to exclude the window’s shadow from the captured image, you can press and hold the Option ⌥ key while clicking the window or menu. This will ensure the screenshot does not include the window’s shadow, allowing for a cleaner and more focused capture of the desired content.

macbook pro option key

d. Screenshot the Touch Bar

To take a screenshot of the Touch Bar on a Mac, you can use the built-in screenshot functionalities provided by macOS. Press the following keyboard combination:

Command ⌘ + Shift ⇧ + 6

This command specifically captures the Touch Bar region.

    macbook touch bar

      These options only appear on the OLED strip if you have a MacBook with a Touch Bar.

      2. Take a Screenshot With the Screen Capture Panel

      The Screen Capture Panel or Screenshot Toolbar is a quick and easy way to take a screenshot on your Mac. With the Screenshot Toolbar, you can quickly choose the type of screenshot you want to take and select the portion of the screen you want to capture.

      It can be especially helpful if you need to take multiple screenshots quickly or if you need to capture a specific portion of the screen that is difficult to select using other methods.

      Here’s how to take a screenshot on your Mac using the Screen Capture Panel:

      1. Press Shift + Command + 5 to open the Screenshot Toolbar or Screen Capture Panel.
      macbook pro command shift 5
      1. Choose whether you want to capture the entire screen, a selected window, or a specific portion of the screen. Click the relevant option.
      you can choose from options like selection window screen or timed screen
      1. If you selected a portion of the screen or a specific window, drag your mouse to select the area you want to capture. 
      2. Click the camera icon to take the screenshot.

      You can also customize your screenshot settings on your Mac to meet your specific needs. Whether you need to capture the entire screen, a specific window, or just a portion of the screen, customizing your screenshot settings can save time.

      Here’s how to do it:

      1. To access the Screenshot app on your Mac, press Shift ⇧ + Command ⌘ + 5 or search for it in the Launchpad or Applications folder.
      2. In the Screenshot app, click Options in the toolbar.
      click the options button in the toolbar
      1. Select where you want your screenshots saved by clicking your desired option under Save to. You can choose from options like Desktop, Documents, or Clipboard.
      you can choose from options like desktop documents or clipboard
      1. You can also set a timer for the screenshot to capture after a specific time under Timer and choose a time interval.
      click on the drop down menu under timer and choose a time interval
      1. Other options include Show Floating Thumbnail, Remember Last Selection, and Show Mouse Pointer.

      3. Capture the Screen With the Mac Screenshot App

      Preview is a built-in application on macOS that allows you to view and edit different files, including images and PDFs. It’s a quick and easy way to capture a window or menu on your Mac. With the added ability to edit and annotate screenshots, Preview is a powerful tool for anyone who needs to take screenshots regularly.

      To take a screenshot on your Mac using Preview, follow these steps:

      1. Open Preview on your Mac.
      open preview on your mac
      1. Click File in the menu bar and select Take Screenshot.
      click file in the menu bar and select take screenshot
      1. Choose to capture the entire screen, a selected portion, or a window.
      choose to capture the entire screen a selected portion or a window
      1. If you choose to capture a window, click the window you want to capture.
      2. The screenshot will open in Preview, where you can edit, annotate, and save it.

      Where Is the Mac Screenshot App?

      You can find the Screenshot app on Mac using one of the following methods:

      1. Through Launchpad
      1. Open Launchpad on your Mac.
      2. Type screenshot in the search bar.
      3. Once you find it, double-click the screenshot app to open it.
      double click the screenshot app in launchpad
        1. Press and hold Command ⌘ + Space bar together to bring up Spotlight Search. Alternatively, you can click the magnifying glass icon in the menu bar.
        click the magnifying icon in the menu bar at the top
        1. Type Screenshot in the search bar and the Mac screenshot app will appear in the search results.
        type screenshot in spotlight search
          1. Select the Screenshot app from the results to open it.
          3. Via Finder
          1. Open the Finder on your Mac.
          click finder in your dock
            1. Select Applications in the left sidebar.
            click applications in the left sidebar
            1. Open the Utilities folder.
            open utilities in applications
            1. Find the Screenshot app and double-click to open it.
            double click the screenshot app in utilities

                4. Capture the Screen on Your Mac With Third-Party Apps

                Capturing the screen on a Mac can be done using built-in tools like Screenshot, but if you’re looking for more advanced features or additional options, third-party apps can provide a broader range of functionalities.

                Here are a few popular third-party apps you can use to capture the screen on your Mac:

                1. Snagit: Snagit is a powerful screen capture and image editing tool that offers a wide range of features. It allows you to capture screenshots, record videos, and annotate images. Snagit also provides options for timed captures, scrolling captures, and capturing specific areas of the screen.
                2. CleanShot X: CleanShot X is a comprehensive screen capture and recording tool with various advanced features. It lets you capture screenshots of selected areas, windows, or the entire screen. CleanShot X offers a clutter-free and intuitive interface, making it easy to use.
                3. Skitch: Skitch is a simple and intuitive screen capture tool developed by Evernote. It lets you capture screenshots, annotate them with shapes, arrows, and text, and easily share them with others. Skitch is known for its user-friendly interface and quick sharing options.
                4. Lightshot: Lightshot is a lightweight screen capture tool that allows you to capture selected areas of your screen or the entire screen. It offers a simple editing interface where you can add annotations, highlight specific areas, or blur out sensitive information. Lightshot also provides instant sharing options.
                5. Snip: Snip is a free and open-source screen capture tool that offers a range of capture modes, including full-screen, window, and custom region capture. It also allows you to record screen activity and provides basic editing features like adding text, arrows, and shapes to your screenshots.
                6. Monosnap: Monosnap is a feature-rich screen capture and annotation tool. It supports capturing selected areas, full-screen, and specific windows. Monosnap offers various editing options, including adding shapes, arrows, text, and blurring sensitive information. It also supports screen recording and instant sharing.

                To download and install these third-party apps on your Mac, remember to visit the respective websites. Each app may have its own set of features and limitations, so explore them to find the one that suits your specific needs for screen capturing on your Mac.

                Where to Find Mac Screenshots

                Mac screenshots are typically saved on the desktop by default. Taking a screenshot creates an image file (.png format) that is automatically saved on your desktop with a filename starting with Screenshot followed by the date and time.

                If you cannot locate the screenshots on your desktop, you can check the following locations:

                1. 💻 Desktop: Open a Finder window and navigate to the desktop. Look for the screenshot files directly on the desktop.
                2. 📁 Screenshots Folder: Open a Finder window and go to your user account’s home folder (the one with the house icon). Then navigate to the Pictures folder and look for a subfolder named Screenshots.
                open the pictures folder
                1. 📋 Clipboard: Mac also has a feature called Clipboard that temporarily stores screenshots. To access screenshots in the Clipboard, you need to open an image editing program like Preview or a document editing program like Pages, Word, or Notes and select Paste (Command ⌘ + V) to paste the screenshot from the Clipboard.

                If you still can’t find your screenshots in any of these locations, they may have been saved to a different location, or you changed the default save location.

                Capture Screenshots on Your Mac Successfully

                Now that you know how to take a screenshot on your Mac easily, your system must be efficient and storage organized. Here are some tips to make your Mac experience better:

                • You can customize the Mac keyboard shortcuts for taking screenshots on your Mac to make them more convenient and easy to remember.
                • Organize your files on Mac so you don’t have to struggle to find them.
                • Did you know your Mac allows you to capture screenshots AND record videos of your screen? If you want to learn more about screen recording on a Mac, check out my guide.

                Frequently Asked Questions

                1. Can I take screenshots of a specific menu on my Mac?

                  Yes, you can take screenshots of a specific menu on your Mac. You can use the Command ⌘ + Shift ⇧ + 4 shortcut to take a screenshot of a specific menu on your Mac, capture an image of a drop-down menu, contextual menu, or any other type of menu.

                2. How can I take a screenshot of a webpage that extends beyond the screen? 

                  You can take a screenshot of a webpage that extends beyond the screen using the Command ⌘ + Shift ⇧ + 3 shortcut, then open the screenshot in Preview and select File > Export as PDF. It will save the entire webpage as a PDF file.

                3. Where are the screenshots saved on a Mac after capturing?

                  After capturing a screenshot on a Mac, the default save location is the desktop. However, you can also find them in the Screenshots folder within your Pictures directory. Additionally, you can change the save location using the Options menu that appears when taking a screenshot.

                Emman Zahid


                Emman is a MacBook and Apple enthusiast with a strong foundation in Computer Science. Her passion for Apple products started during her college years when he got her first MacBook. Over the years, he has built profound expertise in the Apple ecosystem, which he has eloquently shared through writings featured in tech publications such as Laptop251, NotJustLaptops, and TechanZone. Furthermore, marketing giants like OptinMonster, TrustPulse, and WPRocket have leveraged her insights. Emman's strength lies in simplifying complex technical details into understandable information for both tech experts and novices. He currently contributes to the MacBook Journal, ensuring her pieces are accurate, detailed, and engaging. Outside of writing, Emman continues to explore Apple's innovations, always eager to discover and share new insights with fellow Apple enthusiasts.



                Hi there! I'm Ojash, a tech journalist with over a decade of experience in the industry. I've had the privilege of contributing to some of the world's largest tech publications, making my mark as a respected Mac expert. My passion lies in exploring, using, and writing about MacBooks, and I enjoy sharing my expertise to help others make informed decisions and get the most out of their MacBook experience. Join me as we delve into the fascinating world of MacBooks together!

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