Taking a screenshot is something we all want to do at some point. The first personal computers in the ’80s did not support this functionality, with the exception of dumping a textual version of a screen; however, these days, taking a screenshot of the whole desktop or just a particular application window is well-supported on all of the major operating systems.
Let’s see how this task can be accomplished on a Mac computer.
Capture the Entire Screen
To capture the entire desktop screen to an image file:
Hold down the COMMAND key ⌘ and the SHIFT key and the 3 key.
In Mac OS X v10.6 and later, the screenshots are saved as PNG-formatted image files and named something like “Screen shot (date and time).png” by default. You can open these files with Preview or other image editing apps. To know how to save screenshots in other image file formats, please see the last two sections of this article.
Capture a Region of the Screen
Hold down the COMMAND key ⌘ and the SHIFT key and then 4 key. Then, use your mouse to draw a rectangle (by clicking and dragging the mouse) in order to specify what section of the screen to capture.
If you want to cancel the rectangle-drawing action, you can press the ESCAPE key.
Capture an Application Window
This action is similar to the previous screenshot method, but instead of drawing a rectangle with the mouse, we press the SPACE bar and then click on the window we’re interested in screenshotting.
Hold down the COMMAND key ⌘ and the SHIFT key and the 4 key. Now press the SPACE bar and then click on a window with the mouse.
Save the Screenshot to the Clipboard
When working in various applications, it can be very useful to have direct copy/paste access to the screenshot image instead of loading the file manually. To save a screenshot to the clipboard (instead of saving it as a file):
Hold down the CONTROL key together with any of the previous commands described above.
Paste the Screenshot from the Clipboard
To paste the clipboard image content into some document or application after the previous clipboard step:
Hold down the COMMAND key ⌘ and press the V key.
Taking Screenshots with Preview
You also can take screenshots without using any of the keyboard combinations.
Open the Preview application and click on the “File” dropdown menu. Select the “Take Screen Shot” sub-menu and select the screenshot method you would like to perform.
Preview also allows you to save the screenshot in various image formats.
Taking Screenshots from the Command Line
The screencapture command has various options, which can be seen by typing this command into the Terminal window:
Let’s see some examples of these options in use.
Taking a screenshot as a JPEG-formatted image file:
screencapture -t jpg ~/Desktop/screenshot.jpg
Taking a screenshot with a 10-second delay:
screencapture -T 10 ~/Desktop/screenshot.png
Place the screenshot on to the clipboard:
screencapture -c ~/Desktop/screenshot.png
Open the screenshot in a Preview window.
screencapture -P ~/Desktop/screenshot.png