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How To Take A Screenshot On Mac? (2020)

What Is A Screenshot?

A screenshot, sometimes also called a screengrab, or a screencap is an image that shows your desktop screen and all its contents. It can be taken on Windows, Mac, and even mobile operating systems like Android or IOS.

If you want someone to see exactly what you see on your display, then a screenshot is the way to go. There are different ways to take a screenshot based on the device and operating system you are using.

But, they all perform the same task to capture the screen you are currently looking at.

How To Take A Screenshot On Mac

How To Take a Screenshot On A Mac Device

There are multiple ways of taking a screenshot while working on a Mac. The first way of taking a screenshot on a Mac is via keyboard shortcuts. This is an effortless way of taking a screenshot using a combination of just three keys.

To take a screenshot of the whole screen

You need to press the keys of ‘Command’ + ‘Shift’ + ‘3’ together to record your desktop image. Just by simply pressing these three keys together will capture whatever is on your screen. By default, it will save this image to your desktop. 

The name that will be given to this image will be ‘Screen Shot’ followed by the date and time that the image was taken. This key combination will take a screenshot of your entire screen and whatever is on it.

When you take a screenshot on any Mac OS, you will notice a floating image preview on the lower right corner of your desktop.

To take a screenshot of a selected area

But what if you want to take a screenshot of just a particular area of your screen and not the entire screen itself? There is a way of doing that, as well. To take a screenshot of just one particular area, you need to press the following key combination.

Press ‘Command’ + ‘Shift’ + ‘4’ together. This will turn your mouse pointer into a small reticule,
and you can now select the area you wish to screenshot. All you need to do is click and drag your mouse over to the area you wish to capture and let go once you’ve covered the desired area. If you wish to cancel the screenshot then you can just hit the ‘Esc’ key to exit without taking a screenshot.

Once you have clicked and dragged over the area you wish to screenshot you can simply let go of the mouse and the screenshot will be saved to your desktop. This will be saved under the name of ‘Screen Shot’ followed by the date and time it was taken.

To take a screenshot of a window

Press ‘Command’ + ‘Shift’ + ‘5’ together to take a screenshot of a particular active window. Remember to keep the window you need to capture open along with other windows. Press the required key combination and then click on the window of which you wish to take a screenshot.

How to take a screenshot on your MAC

Mac OS Mojave Feature

If you’re using Mac OS Mojave or higher then you can easily enable an on-screen marquee tool that you can move to any part of the screen and even resize it with ease. To enable this function:

Press ‘Command’ + ‘Shift’ + ‘5’ together. When you press this key combination together, it will bring up a small panel on your screen. This is the screenshot or screen record panel. The panel has a select set of buttons that lets you decide how or what you would like to capture. Once you select which option you would like, all you need to do to take a screenshot is hit the capture button.

  • Capture the entire screen: This is quite simple and it takes a screenshot of the entire screen. So whatever is on your desktop is included in the screenshot.
  • Capture selected window: This will take a screenshot of a window you select and not of the entire desktop. This can be used if you want to share something on a particular window without including any background stuff. All you have to do is hover over the window that is to be captured and click on it so that the screenshot is taken.
  • Capture selected portion: This will allow you to capture a selected portion of your active screen. This is a much more refined way of taking a screenshot. There are multiple points on the select square you can move to take the most precise screenshots.

The options give you more versatility. Beside the capture button on the screenshot panel, you will see another button called options. Here you will get a limited set of options that can help you customize your screenshot experience.

Under ‘Save to’ you can select the location where the captured screenshot will be saved. You get options like the default desktop and documents, clipboard, mail, messages, or other locations.

If you do not wish to save your screenshots on your desktops, as it may clutter it up, you can easily select a different location.

You even get a timer option that you can enable to take a screenshot after 5 or 10 seconds of clicking the capture button. You can also select the ‘Remember Last Selection’ option. 


This way, if you need to take multiple screenshots of the same size or at the same location, you won’t have to move or resize the selection.

When you have this option selected and take the first screenshot, all of the following screenshots will have the section box in the same place and of the same size. Note that this will only work when the third option ‘Capture selected portion’ is selected and will not work in the first two.

Mac OS Mojave

You Can Even Record Your Screen

Yes, you can even record your screen with the screenshot panel. There are two options available on the panel for this feature.

Record the entire screen: As the name suggests this will record the entire desktop screen. To activate it all you need to do is click on the option from the panel bar. Once you click on it the capture button will change and become ‘Record'.

To begin all you need to do is click on the record button. When you do the screenshot panel bar will disappear and your screen recording will begin. To stop it, you will notice a stop button on the menu bar. Click on it to stop the screen recording.  Similarly, when you take a screenshot you will notice a floating image preview on the bottom right side of your desktop.

Record a selected portion: Just like taking a screenshot of a selected portion of the screen, you can now record a video of a selected portion of the screen. When you click on it you will get the same selection toolbox that you can move and resize. The rest is the same as recording the entire screen.

Apps to Take Screenshots on Mac OS

  • Snagit: This is the most popular screen capturing software on Mac OS. Not only does it provide you with multiple ways of taking screenshots but also recording your screen. It also provides the user with multiple editing tools built in the app.
  • Lightshot: As the name suggests this is a lightweight screenshot creating tool. It does come with some creative features, one of which allows you to search the web of similar images like your screenshot. You also get some editing tools as well as a ‘one-click to print’ option.
  • SnapNDrag: This is a cool lightweight app that allows you to take screenshots of the entire screen, a specific window, or just a selected portion without worrying about hotkeys or key combinations. There is a free as well as a paid version that includes some really cool features. You can create a library for all your screenshots as well as share them easily with your Twitter, Facebook, or email.
  • Monosnap: Not only can you take screenshots and edit them via this app but also get access to an incredible cloud storage option to save your screenshots. It also allows you to enable customizable hotkeys to take the desired screenshot and comes with a plethora of editing tools.
  • Greenshot: It is lightweight, user-friendly, highly customizable, and with rich features. One of the best features is the ability to blur parts of your screenshot. If you accidentally took an entire screen screenshot you can easily just blur out what you do not want people to see. This saves time and is better than deleting and taking a screenshot of the desired portion again.


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About the Author

Piyush Kashyap is a Ph.D student at Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering and Technology, Sangrur. He is a budding editor/ writer and has been working as a part-time reviewer for online content. He loves to read tech-based articles and has a knack for reviewing such articles He likes to stay updated about the latest trends in technology. He has also been working as a reviewer for many scientific journals. He also writes articles based on science. Know More About Piyush

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