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How to take a screenshot on a Mac

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How to take a screenshot on a Mac

Keyboard shortcuts and built-in apps to capture images and videos of your screen

By Matthew Guay · March 17, 2021
screenshot-mac primary img

Your Mac comes with everything you need to take screenshots. There are easy ways to take screenshots of your entire screen, a section of your screen, or even a specific window.

The problem: these features are hidden behind keyboard shortcuts that, to say the least, aren't obvious. 

(Are you a Windows user, or wondering about mobile devices? Check our full screenshot guide for ways to take screenshots on any other device—along with tips on taking great screenshots.)

Introducing: Zappy by Zapier, a screenshot tool for macOS that helps your team share what you see in a snap. With easy-to-use annotation tools, Zappy can help you collaborate with your teammates fast. Quickly capture and share screenshots, GIFs, and recordings for free. Learn more about Zappy.

Keyboard shortcuts for Mac screenshots

OS X Screenshot

To take screenshots on any Mac, you'll need to memorize a few keyboard shortcuts. Fortunately, they're all quite similar—and each saves a screenshot image to your Mac's desktop by default. Here are the default Mac screenshot keyboard shortcuts:

  • Save full-screen screenshot: Command + Shift + 3

  • Save screenshot of single window: Command + Shift + 4, press the Space key, then click on the window you want to capture

  • Save screenshot of single window without shadow: Command + Shift + 4, press the Space key, then hold the Alt key and click on the window you want to capture

  • Save screenshot of selection: Command + Shift + 4, then select the area you want to capture with your mouse cursor.

  • Save screenshot of Touch Bar: Command + Shift + 6

Tip: Want to copy the screenshot to your clipboard instead of saving it to your desktop? Add Ctrl to any of these keyboard shortcuts to copy the screenshot—so, for example, CMD+Ctrl+Shift+3 to copy a full-screen screenshot.

If you want, you can customize the screenshot keyboard shortcuts from your Mac's keyboard preferences. Open your System Preferences, select Keyboard, then click the Shortcuts tab and select Screenshots on the left side. There you can customize any of the default shortcuts for screenshots.

customize Mac keyboard shortcuts for screenshots

How to capture delayed screenshots and videos using the Screenshot app

Want to capture your mouse with your screenshots—or capture a screenshot after a delay? The built-in Screenshot app can do that, and you'll find it in the Other folder in Launchpad or the Applications > Utilities folder in Finder.

Open Screenshot, then click Options to set up a delay. You can also use the buttons to choose between the entire screen, a particular window, or a region of the screen.

macOS Screenshot

The buttons with the small circles on them let you record a video of your screen—you can even record commentary using your microphone. You can do your entire screen or a particular section—the result will be saved as a .MOV file to your desktop. 

macOS screenshot of a region

Want your screenshots and videos automatically uploaded to the web, so you can quickly share them? Check out Zappy. It does everything Apple's screenshot does, and more.

How to take screenshots using the MacBook Pro Touch Bar

Customize Touch Bar

If you have a newer MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar, you won't have to remember keyboard shortcuts each time you take screenshots. Instead, you can add a camera icon to your Touch Bar and save anything as a screenshot with a couple taps.

First, open your Keyboard preferences and click the Customize Control Strip... button in the bottom of the window. That will show all the options you can use on your Touch Bar. Click and drag the camera icon to your Touch Bar, then save the changes to always have a one-tap way to capture anything on your screen.

Touch Bar screenshot options
You can copy the screenshot or save it to a file from the Touch Bar options

As soon as you tap the camera button on your Touch Bar, your mouse cursor will switch to crosshairs to select any part of your screen to save as a screenshot. Press the spacebar on your keyboard then click a window to save a full window screenshot. Or, select any of the other screenshot options that show on the Touch Bar while taking a screenshot to take a full-screen screenshot, copy the image instead of saving it as a file, and more.

Tip: Need to take a screenshot of your Touch Bar? Press CMD+Shift+6 to save a screenshot of your full Touch Bar to your desktop.


To review: CMD+Shift+3 to screenshot your full screen. CMD+Shift+4 for just a section—or tap space to capture a window.

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This article was originally published in August 2018 and has since been updated with contributions from Justin Pot.

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Matthew Guay

Matthew Guay is an editor and writer in Bangkok. When he's not writing, he's likely reading a new book or exploring random streets in a new city. Follow Matthew at @maguay.

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