How to Screenshot on a Mac (Step-by-step with Photos!)

If you own a Mac and are wondering how to capture a screenshot on it, then look no further! There are many different ways users can take a picture of their screen, including simple keyboard shortcuts or by using the helpful Spotlight Search tool. However, despite there being many ways of getting a screenshot, individuals are unaware of which shortcuts to use or which one is the easiest.

To screenshot the entire screen using a Mac, use the keyboard shortcut by holding down Shift, Command, and 3. To capture a portion of the screen, use Shift, Command, and 4, or Shift, Command, and 5. To customize screenshot shortcuts, open the Shortcuts pane located in Keyboard preferences.

Screenshotting on a Mac is a quite simple process, as Apple has made it as straightforward as possible in hopes users will be able to remember how the feature works.

However, there are other issues individuals have with screenshotting, such as not being able to find the screenshot, not knowing what format the screenshot is saved as, or not being able to get the screenshot captured in general.

To learn more about screenshotting on a Mac, continue reading below to discover additional information about the topic.

Shift, Command, 3

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The first way to screenshot on a Mac is by using the following keyboard shortcut: Shift, Command, 3. Hold these three keys down, and this shortcut will capture the entirety of the screen.

This shortcut is what should be used if users do not want to leave any part of the screen out. However, it can be cropped and styled to preference once the photo has been taken. To edit the screenshot, click on the thumbnail of the photo that appears on the bottom right-hand corner of the screen.

Shift, command, 3 is one of the easiest ways to screenshot on a Mac, as it entails only using three steps. If users want the entirety of the screen to be in the photo, then this shortcut is the simplest option. However, this shortcut does not allow for a great deal of customizability.

If users are wanting to eliminate certain parts of the screen before the photo is taken, then this is not the shortcut that should be used. Rather, the following shortcuts should be utilized.

Shift, Command, 4

Holding down the Shift, Command, and 4 keys is another method of screenshotting on a Mac. This keyboard shortcut can turn the cursor into a tool for deciding what to put into the photo. This shortcut allows users to decide exactly what they want to be captured—it is all up to the user’s discretion.

To use the new photo-capturing cursor (which will look like crosshairs), place the tool in the corner where you would like the photo to start, and simply click and drag the tool in the desired direction.

After the screenshot is completed, a thumbnail of the screenshot will appear in the right-hand corner of the Mac screen. If this thumbnail appears, then it means the screenshot was successful. However, if the photo is not displayed, then the user should reattempt the screenshot.

Shift, Command, 4 allows the user to be in complete control of what is in the screenshot. If only one portion of the screen needs to be in the photo, then users should use this keyboard shortcut.

If Shift, Command, 4 is opened on accident, click the escape button located at the top left of the Mac keyboard or simply press down on the trackpad (if using a laptop) without clicking and dragging.

Shift, Command, 4, Space Bar

Holding down the keys Shift, Command, 4, and Spacebar furthers the ability of the shortcut Shift, Command, 4. While Shift, Command, 4 allows users to decide exactly which portion of the screen they want in the photo, pressing the Spacebar, in addition, highlights portions of the screen, and the cursor will look like a camera icon.

The Spacebar takes away the customizability option of Shift, Command, 4 and instead makes it as to where you can select which part of the screen will be in the screenshot. For example, if you have two windows open next to each other, pressing Shift, Command, 4, Spacebar allows you to select which window you would like to screenshot.

After pressing Shift, Command, 4, and Spacebar, left-click the screen (or just click on the trackpad). This will complete the screenshot and the thumbnail will then appear in the right-hand corner of the Mac. To crop and edit the photo to the desired preference, click the thumbnail and edit from there.

Clicking on the thumbnail to make edits should be done as quickly as possible, however, because the thumbnail will disappear after a few seconds.

If the Spacebar is clicked on accident while attempting to do the shortcut shift, command, 4, then press the space bar again. Re-clicking the Spacebar will unhighlight sections of the screen and will once again allow users to decide how much of the screen they want in the photo.

The cursor will change from looking like a camera icon to looking like crosshairs. If the entire function is an accident, however, then click the escape button at the top left of the Mac keyboard.

Shift, Command, 5

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Holding down Shift, Command, and 5 is perhaps the most well-known way of screenshotting on a Mac. This is because when this keyboard shortcut is employed, all of the options appear automatically on the screen. This allows users to choose what they want just by reading the list of available functions. Shift, Command, 5 is a shortcut that should be remembered by all Mac users, as it allows them to screenshot and screen record.

When using Shift, Command, 5, three different screenshotting options will become available. The three options include capturing the entire screen, capturing the selected window, and capturing the selected portion. For screen recording, the two options are recording the entire screen and recording the selected portion.

In addition, there are many ways to tailor the screenshot to the users’ needs. After using the Shift, Command, 5 shortcut, click the options dropdown button, and different saving options, timer options, and further possibilities will be available.

Under the “Save to” heading, users have the options of saving the screenshot to the following locations:

  • Desktop
  • Documents
  • Clipboard
  • Mail
  • Messages
  • Preview
  • Other Locations

Under the “Timer” heading, users can set the timer to none, 5 seconds, or 10 seconds.

Under the “Options” heading, users can select whether or not they want to show the floating thumbnail, remember the last selection, or show the mouse pointer.

As per usual, if you accidentally pressed Shift, Command, 5, you can simply press the escape key to disable the screenshot.

Many Mac users find it difficult or nearly impossible to remember all of the different keyboard shortcuts. With so many different shortcuts and functions to learn, many opt out of memorizing them at all. Thankfully, there are still ways to screenshot on a Mac without having to remember any shortcuts at all.

Using the cursor on the Mac, hover over the top right-hand portion of the screen. A magnifying glass should appear, and after clicking on it, the text “Spotlight Search” will come up. In the search bar, type “screenshot.” Click on the first option, and the same screen that would appear with shift, command, 5 will become available.

With spotlight search, everything relating to screenshots will pop up. This means that definitions, safari searches, images, and messages will appear. Spotlight search is a useful tool and should be used when trying to find a function. With spotlight search, users will be able to find everything pertaining to screenshots.

Where to Find Screenshots on a Mac

Taking a screenshot can be a simple process once all of the many different keyboard shortcuts are memorized. However, what about finding the screenshots once they are taken? Many users fall short of being able to locate their previously taken photos and resort to taking another screenshot to make up for the inability to find them.

This means that duplicate screenshots are often taken, which results in more storage being taken up on the Mac. In addition, taking multiple screenshots is a hassle, and it requires more steps than necessary.

To find a screenshot on a Mac, open the Finder app. This app is what contains all of the different files located on the computer, ranging from applications to airdropped photos. When screenshots are taken, they are automatically saved to the Desktop folder. Screenshots are put into this folder so users can find them in a convenient place as quickly and easily as possible.

If the screenshot was taken recently, then users can open the Finder app and click on “Recents”, located near the top. The recent screenshot should appear, as the files will be in the order of when they were saved onto the Mac.

The screenshot will also appear directly on your desktop.

How Are Screenshots on a Mac Saved?

Screenshots are automatically saved as a PNG file, and they are saved to the desktop. Screenshots are saved under the title ”Screen Shot [date] at [time].png.” This standard title allows users to easily find their screenshots, especially if they know when their photo was captured.

Although Mac screenshots are saved as PNG files, users can change the files to a PDF, TIFF, JPG, or GIF. All of these are common options and may be desired by the user. If this is the case, users should head to How to Change the Default Screenshot File Format in macOS, where a step-by-step detailed tutorial will be given.

If a visual demonstration is needed for how to change the file format of a screenshot while using a Mac, the video below can be followed:

How to change the screenshot file format on a Mac

Why Are Screenshots Not Working on a Mac?

Learn How to Take a Screenshot

Many think that their Mac’s screenshot feature is malfunctioning when in reality, they are just not using it correctly. Sometimes users need to be shown how to do something, as just explaining through text is not enough. If a user cannot get screenshots to work while using a Mac, watch the video provided below.

This video will explain all of the different shortcuts needed for a screenshot and will show the necessary steps that need to be followed to take a successful screenshot using a Mac.

How to screenshot using a Mac

Turn the Mac Off

Oftentimes, Macs need to be shut off. Even technologies as advanced as Macs need some rest. If the screenshot feature is not working, then shut the Mac off and turn it back on again. More times than not, this simple fix will repair the issue. However, if it does not, then there may be something more seriously wrong with the computer.

Check Settings

Sometimes wrongful settings get turned off or on without the user ever changing them. This can occur by accident or sometimes just by the computer malfunctioning. Either way, users should check their settings once they cannot get screenshots to work.

To check the keyboard shortcut settings, click on the System Preferences icon located in the Dock, then click Keyboard, and then check the shortcut’s settings. If any of the keyboard shortcuts are turned off for screenshots, then turn them back on.

Help on Menu Bar

Using the help tool may not be another way of screenshotting on a Mac, however, it explains to users how to take a screenshot so they do not need to memorize any keyboard shortcuts. Whenever users are confused or need clarification regarding their Mac, they should always seek after the help button, as it will provide excellent clarification whenever possible.

To access this function, users should hover over the top of the screen until the menu bar appears. After the menu bar is displayed, click the “Help” button located at the end of the left-hand functions. Type in “screenshot,” and then click on the “Take screenshots or screen recordings on Mac” which appears under the heading labeled Help Topics.

The macOS user guide will then provide a detailed explanation of how to take a screenshot or how to screen record on a Mac. This tutorial will guide users on which keyboard shortcuts can be used. Although the help button on the menu bar will not take the screenshot for the user, it can be used if all other actions are forgotten. This helpful guide can help new Mac users or those who have never taken a screenshot before.