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How to take a screenshot on Mac OS X

David Price | May 19, 2016
Want to capture an editable image of whatever's on your Mac screen? Here's how to take a screenshot - or 'print screen' - on a Mac

Taking a screenshot is far easier on Mac than on PC (no surprises there) with more options available, too. Here are the best ways to take a screengrab in Mac OS X. We also explain how to print screen on a Mac, replicating the Print Screen button on a PC.

How to take a screenshot on Mac: Mac screengrab shortcuts

Hold CMD (also known as the 'Apple key') and Shift, then press 3. This will instantly grab a screen capture or screenshot of the entire Mac desktop, which will appear on the desktop as a .png image whose filename will begin with 'Screen shot' and the date and time.

(Would you prefer your screenshot as a JPG or other file format? You can drag the .png file into Photoshop, Preview or similar image viewing program, and then Save As with a different file type extension.)

How to take a screenshot on Mac

We've screengrabbed the whole screen - it's tough to make out any details because most of the screenshot is wasted. We could crop this in an image-editing program, but it would be simpler to capture a smaller area in the first place

You probably don't want to screenshot the whole screen, however - most likely you just want to show someone a single interesting thing that one of your applications is up to. So, this time we'll hold the same two keys - Cmd and Shift - but press 4. Crosshairs appear in place of your cursor; click the left mouse button and drag the cursor across the screen to select a rectangle to screengrab. As before, this will appear on your desktop as a .png.

How to take a screenshot on Mac

Now we've used the crosshairs to screengrab only the bit we wanted to share

It's hard to capture it live - it's tough to take a screenshot of a screenshot being taken - but, thanks to a nearby iPhone, this is what the screengrabbing process looks like in action:

How to take a screenshot on Mac

Apologies for the low picture quality. (The screenshot you take will be far better quality, hopefully.)

You can just about see, incidentally, that there are two numbers by the crosshairs that I've dragged over the desired screen space (near the bottom right). These are co-ordinates indicating the crosshairs' location on the screen - the horizontal pixel number followed by the vertical pixel number.


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