If you’re tearing your hair out trying to work out how to take a screenshot on a Mac, here we show you the quickest ways to capture a screenshot on a Mac.
If you’ve just switched to Mac from Windows, you’ll notice that there’s no Prt Scn (Print Screen) key which makes it so easy to take screenshots on PC.
The good news however is that you can still take screenshots quickly and easily on a Mac and in fact, the screenshot tool in macOS is way better than in Windows.
The following screenshot methods work on all models of Mac including MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMacs and Apple Silicon M1/M2 Macs.
They also work on the latest versions of macOS including Ventura, Monterey, Big Sur and Catalina.
They also allow you to crop a screenshot and paste a screenshot into another application or program on your Mac.
For a more comprehensive look at all the different ways you can take a screen shot on a Mac, check our ultimate guide to screenshots on a Mac.
Note that some applications will not allow you to take a screenshot or screen recording on Mac due to copyright protection or Digital Rights Management (DRM) controls.
For example you can’t take a screenshot of Netflix or record Netflix on your Mac for copyright reasons.
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How To Screenshot on a Mac
With this in mind, here are the best ways to take a screenshot on a Mac in just a few seconds.
1. Use macOS Screenshot
The free screenshot tool in macOS not only allows you to take screenshots, but also make screen recordings. With this in mind, here’s how to take a screenshot or screen recording on a Mac.
1. Press the ⌘ + Shift + 5 keys at the same time to bring up the screenshot menu on your Mac and you will see the following screenshot tool menu.
From left to right, the menu gives you 5 capture options:
- Entire Screen
- Selected Windows
- Selected Portion
- Record Entire Screen
- Record Selected Section
If you’ve got a Touch Bar Mac, you can also use the Touch Bar to select which option to use.
The Options menu allows you to specify some of the settings of the screenshot or screen recording including where to save the screenshot on your Mac.
If you’re taking a screen recording, you can also set whether to use a timed delay or show the mouse cursor.
There’s also a Show Floating Thumbnail option which when you’ve taken a screen shot or finished a screen recording, places a small controller on your desktop to allow you to mark up and share it easily.
When you’ve selected what type of screenshot or screen capture you need, simply click on Capture to save or record the entire screen.
If you just want to snip a specific window, then move the mouse cursor over it and click on the Window.
If you’re taking a screen recording click on Record and when you’re finished, click on the stop button in the menu bar.
If you selected the Show Floating Thumbnail option in the Options earlier, it will appear when your screenshot is taken or screen recording complete.
Swipe right to save the screenshot or recording and make it disappear. It also allows you to drag a thumbnail of the screenshot or screen recording into a document, email, note or in Finder.
If you click on the thumbnail, it will also allow you to edit the screenshot or crop the recording.
2. Use Keyboard Shortcuts
macOS also has keyboard shortcuts that allow you to capture a part of your screen instantly. You can use the following keyboard shortcuts to instantly capture a screen or Window on your Mac:
Shift-Command-3: Captures the entire screen
Shift-Command-4: Captures a section of the screen using crosshair pointer which you can drag and resize with the Touchpad or mouse. You can also use this to take a shot of a drop down menu for example.
Shift-Command-4 + Spacebar: Captures a window, menu bar or dock. Just use the Trackpad to select which one you want to save.
Shift-Command-6: Captures the Touch Bar on Touch Bar Macs.
If you want you can also configure your own keyboard screenshot shortcuts by going to the Apple Menu and selecting System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts.
Preview allows you to view PDF documents and images on your Mac for free but it also takes screenshots. If you want to take a screenshot on a Mac without a keyboard you can with macOS Preview.
Preview lets you grab any part of the screen that you want to snip. The advantage of using Preview to take screenshots on a Mac is that it immediately opens them in Preview for editing.
You can then edit, annotate or resize images and documents in Preview instantly.
To take a screenshot in a few ways using Preview.
- Go to File > Take Screenshot > From Selection to select a part of the screen you want to capture.
- Go to File > Take Screenshot > From Window to take a screenshot of a specific window.
- Go to File > Take Screenshot > From Entire Screen to take a screenshot of the entire screen.
When you’ve captured the image, you can then edit it by clicking on the Show Markup Toolbar in the Markup toolbar. If you can’t see the Markup Toolbar then you can make it appear by going to View > Show Markup Toolbar.
When you’re done click on File > Save to save it anywhere on your Mac.
These are all free ways to take a screenshot on a Mac which are part of macOS.
You’ll also find that there are specialist screen capture tools out there that offer more features and control especially when it comes to screen recordings but they’re not free.
Where Are Screenshots Saved On A Mac?
By default, screenshots and screen captures made using the macOS Screenshot tool or with keyboard shortcuts are saved on your Mac desktop unless you define otherwise using Options in the macOS screenshot tool.
Whichever method you use, screenshots are saved as PNG files and screen recordings as MOV files. The filenames are labelled with “Screenshot” or “Screen Recording” with the date and time they were taken.
If you use Preview to take screenshots on a Mac, you can choose where to save them by going to File > Save.
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