How to take a screenshot on a Mac

How to take a screenshot on a Mac

Apple has built a number of methods into OS X that make taking a screenshot or capturing selected areas of your screen incredibly straightforward.

There are three distinct ways of taking a screenshot - capturing the whole of your screen (also called a print screen on Windows), capturing a selected area of your screen, and capturing a specific application window.

No matter which technique you use, by default the screenshot you take is saved as a .png image on your Mac's desktop, however it is possible to change where OS X saves screenshots.

1. Take a screenshot of your entire screen

Assuming you are using a standard Mac keyboard, simply hold down the following keys:

Command (Cmd) + Shift + 3

This will take a screenshot of your entire screen, including the menu bar and dock. This method is essentially the Mac equivalent of using print screen on a Windows computer.

Tip: To automatically copy a screenshot to your Mac's clipboard when taking it, keep the Ctrl key held down while using any of the screenshot methods on this page.

2. Take a screenshot of a selected area on your screen

Again, on a standard Mac keyboard hold down the following keys:

Command (Cmd) + Shift + 4

Your mouse cursor will turn into a crosshair. Drag it using your mouse or trackpad to draw a rectangle around the area of the screen you wish to take a screenshot of. Release the mouse or trackpad when you are happy to capture the area inside rectangle.

3. Take a screenshot of a specific window or menu

One of the most useful but less well known screenshot features that Macs provide is the ability to capture just a specific window of an application. To do this, use the same keyboard shortcut as the previous method:

Command (Cmd) + Shift + 4

Then once your mouse cursor has turned into a crosshair, press Space. Your cursor will become a camera icon. Now hover over the window you wish to take a screenshot of and once it has highlighted blue, click your mouse button.

Tip: You can also use the same method for taking a screenshot of an open menu or the OS X menu bar. Open the menu you wish to take a screenshot of, press the key combination (including Space) and hover the cursor over the menu. Like with an application window, click your mouse button to take the screenshot once the menu has highlighted blue.