We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
(Last Updated On: November 4, 2019)

As technology has grown and expanded, one company really stands out. That company is Apple. They have made a name for themselves with iPods, iPads, iPhones, and even watches. But what started it all was the good old Mac. Of course, it has come a long way since it was first built. But as technology gets more and more advanced, we run into new challenges. We can do so much cool stuff on Macs and we want to be able to show it off. Unfortunately, one of the biggest challenges we have run into is how to possibly capture what is on our screen and save it for later.

When I got my first MacBook one of the first things I noticed, there is no printscreen button on the keyboard. I had no other way but to google search – How to take a screenshot on a mac. And then I realized that there is no Paint alternative already installed on my Mac. It took me a while to figure out, how to edit photos on a Mac – Fast!

Eventually, we found a way to solve our problem, using screen capture technology. Screenshots are great for sharing any number of things. For example, you can take screenshots during gameplay to show your friends an awesome double kill or a new high score. Or you can take screenshots of research you are doing for work or school. You could even take a screenshot of your screen to help explain how to do something

You may be surprised how frustrating it can be – to take a screenshot on a Mac, especially for people who are new to Mac and are used to Windows machines.

You will probably be surprised to see how many ways there are to take a screenshot on a Mac. If you previously had a PC, you are probably used to a very different process of taking screenshots. This might make it a little tricky at first, but with practice, you’ll get the hang of it in no time. You can always screenshot this article to reference back to later when you forget how to take the type of screenshot that you want. 

How to Take a Screenshot of Your Entire Screen

This method of taking a screenshot on Mac will capture your entire screen. This includes the day, time, and task bar. Some people may find this annoying, so it may not be the best method for you. However, if you don’t mind the day, time, and task bar being visible, this method of taking a screenshot is great for almost any circumstance.

Step One

The first thing you will want to do is make sure anything and everything you want to take a picture of is on the screen before you take the screenshot.

Step Two

Secondly, you will want to locate the Shift button, which is found beside the Z key.

Step Three

Next, locate the Command key. You should be able to find this beside the space bar.

Step Four

Press SHIFT and COMMAND and 3, all at the same time.

Using this method, your newly taken screenshot will be saved on your desktop as a .PNG file. The name will be Screen Shot [DATE + TIME], so it will be very easy to find. From here you can double click to open it. If you want to share it, click preview, and then you are given the option to share. If you prefer to share it with another app however, right click the thumbnail on your desktop and choose the option “Open With”. Or, you can drag and drop it to the app you want to use to share it.

Of course, you could always just stop here and only take screenshots this way. Then later when you open the screenshot you can go back and edit it to include only what you need. However, this seems like a tedious and unnecessary process, at least to me. Keep reading to discover the many different ways you can take a screenshot on your Mac that will cater to your every need.

How to Take a Screenshot of a Specific Mac App Window

This method of taking Mac screenshots will capture a specific Mac app window. It will not capture the date, time, task bar, or any other windows that are open. This is useful if you find these extras to be distracting or annoying. This way you will not have to go back later and edit and crop the image, it will already be exactly what you want.

Step One

First, open the app you want to take a screenshot of and make sure everything looks right.

Step Two

Next, locate the Shift key, beside the Z key.

Step Three

Locate the Command key, placed beside the space bar on your keyboard.

Step Four

Press SHIFT and COMMAND and 4, all at the same time. Once you hit these keys, your mouse cursor should turn into crosshairs. In case you are unaware of what that looks like, the cursor will turn into what looks like a small cross instead of its usual pointer. The crosshairs are meant to help you pin point the exact location you want to screenshot.

Step Five

Although you have turned the cursor into crosshairs, you will not be using it in this form. So next, hit the space bar. Once you hit the space bar, your cursor will turn into a little camera.

Step Six

Roll your cursor to the top of the window that you want to take a screenshot of. The window you hover the cursor over should appear to have a blue tint or highlight, this is to make sure you are choosing the window you want.

Using this method, your newly taken screenshot will be saved on your desktop as a .PNG file. The name will be Screen Shot [DATE + TIME], so it will be very easy to find. From here you can double click to open it. If you want to share it, click preview, and then you are given the option to share. If you prefer to share it with another app however, right click the thumbnail on your desktop and choose the option “Open With”. Or, you can drag and drop it to the app you want to use to share it.

How to Take a Screenshot of a Drop Down Menu With its Title

If you want to take a screenshot of a drop down menu and want the title included, this is the best and fastest way to do so.

Step One

Select the menu you want to take a screenshot of to reveal its contents.

Step Two

Locate the Shift key, beside the Z key.

Step Three

Locate the Command key, beside the space bar on your keyboard.

Step Four

At the same time, hold down the SHIFT, COMMAND, and 4 keys. Your cursor should now be the crosshairs again.

Step Five

Place the cursor in the top left corner of the menu you want to screenshot.

Step Six

Click and hold the left mouse button.

Step Seven

Holding down the left mouse, and using the crosshair cursor, fully encompass the menu you want to screenshot, bringing the crosshairs down to the right bottom corner. 

Step Eight

Once you have the menu you want highlighted, let go of the left mouse button.

Using this method, your newly taken screenshot will be saved on your desktop as a .PNG file. The name will be Screen Shot [DATE + TIME], so it will be very easy to find. From here you can double click to open it. If you want to share it, click preview, and then you are given the option to share. If you prefer to share it with another app however, right click the thumbnail on your desktop and choose the option “Open With”. Or, you can drag and drop it to the app you want to use to share it.

How to Take a Screenshot of a Drop Down Menu Without its Title

There are any number of reasons why you may not want the title. You may be teaching a computer class and want the class to guess what menu it is. Or, you may just find it annoying. Either way, if you are looking to take a screenshot of a specific drop down menu, but don’t want the title included, follow these steps.

Step One

First, select the drop down menu you want to take a screenshot of to reveal its contents.

Step Two

Next, locate the Shift key, beside the Z key.

Step Three

Locate the Command key, placed beside the space bar on your keyboard.

Step Four

Press SHIFT and COMMAND and 4, all at the same time. Once you hit these keys, your mouse cursor should turn into crosshairs. In case you are unaware of what that looks like, the cursor will turn into what looks like a small cross instead of its usual pointed cursor.

Step Five

Next, hit the space bar. Once you hit the space bar, your cursor will turn into a little camera.

Step Six

Roll your camera cursor to the top of the menu that you want to take a screenshot of. The menu you hover the camera cursor over should appear to have a blue tint or highlight, this is to make sure you are choosing the menu you want.

Using this method, your newly taken screenshot will be saved on your desktop as a .PNG file. The name will be Screen Shot [DATE + TIME], so it will be very easy to find. From here you can double click to open it. If you want to share it, click preview, and then you are given the option to share. If you prefer to share it with another app however, right click the thumbnail on your desktop and choose the option “Open With”. Or, you can drag and drop it to the app you want to use to share it.

How to Take a Screenshot of Part of Your Screen

If there is a specific part of your screen that you want to take a screenshot of, this method is ideal for you. Instead of capturing the entire screen and having to edit it or have unnecessary things in the picture, you are able to get exactly what you want.

Step One

Open the window(s) you want to take a screenshot of.

Step Two

Locate the Shift key, beside the Z key.

Step Three

Locate the Command key, beside the space bar on your keyboard.

Step Four

At the same time, hold down the SHIFT, COMMAND, and 4 keys. Your cursor should now be the crosshairs again.

Step Five

This time we get to actually use the crosshair cursor. Place the cursor in a corner of the area you want to screenshot.

Step Six

Click and hold the left mouse button.

Step Seven

Holding down the left mouse, and using the crosshair cursor, fully encompass the area you want to screenshot.

Using the crosshairs will give you a specific pixel count of the area you encompass.

Step Eight

Once you have the area you want highlighted, let go of the left mouse button.

Using this method, your newly taken screenshot will be saved on your desktop as a .PNG file. The name will be Screen Shot [DATE + TIME], so it will be very easy to find. From here you can double click to open it. If you want to share it, click preview, and then you are given the option to share. If you prefer to share it with another app however, right click the thumbnail on your desktop and choose the option “Open With”. Or, you can drag and drop it to the app you want to use to share it.

How to Take a Screenshot of the Touch Bar

Not everyone will be able to do this, but if you have a Mac with a touch bar and you also have MacOS Sierra 10.12.2, then you can take a screenshot of the touch bar.

Step One

Next, locate the Shift key, beside the Z key.

Step Three

Locate the Command key, placed beside the space bar on your keyboard.

Step Four

Press SHIFT and COMMAND and 6, all at the same time.

Using this method, your newly taken screenshot will be saved on your desktop as a .PNG file. The name will be Screen Shot [DATE + TIME], so it will be very easy to find. From here you can double click to open it. If you want to share it, click preview, and then you are given the option to share. If you prefer to share it with another app however, right click the thumbnail on your desktop and choose the option “Open With”. Or, you can drag and drop it to the app you want to use to share it.

How to Save Your Screenshot Directly to Your Clipboard on Mac

This method is for people who don’t want their screenshot saved directly to their desktop. There are multiple reasons why you might want to save your screenshot to your clipboard. For some people, it may be easier to access if it is on their clipboard. If you plan on pasting your screenshot into a document or browser, this method is probably the easiest way of going about it. This can be used with any method of screenshotting.

Step One

Prepare yourself to take the screenshot using the method of your choice, locate all the keys.

Step Two

Locate the Control key, 2 keys to the left of the Command key.

Step Three

Press all the keys that you need to depending on what method you choose to use.

Step Four

While pressing the other keys, also press CONTROL. This will save your screenshot directly to your clipboard.

Step Five

To paste your screenshot into your desired document or browser, right click on the mouse and select the “Paste” option, or press CONTROL and V at the same time. Both methods will give you the same result. Saving a screenshot to your clipboard and retrieving it later is a useful shortcut if you are in a hurry.

How to Take a Timed Screenshot

In case you need a few extra seconds to make sure your screen is set up perfectly to take your screenshot, this is the way to do it. Maybe you had it all set up, you took a screenshot, and then realized something was wrong. Now you have to take a whole new one. Instead of going through this tedious process, it is much quicker to just set it up to take a timed screenshot so you can double and triple check everything. If you have OS X, then you likely have the bundled Grab app, which is what you will be using for this method.

Step One

Get the window, app, or menu that you want to screenshot ready. It doesn’t have to be perfect yet, that’s what the timer is for.

Step Two

Open the Grab app. This can be done by looking in the Utilities folder for it, or you can find it by searching for it using Spotlight. It is probably easier to search for it if you have no clue where to find it.

Step Three

Go to Capture.

Step Four

Select the Timed Screen option.

Step Five

Once you select Timed Screen, you will see a window pop up, telling you that the app will take a screenshot ten seconds after you start the timer.

Step Six

When you are ready, select the option that says “Start Timer”.

Step Seven

Make sure your screen is exactly how you want it to be captured and wait out the timer. After ten seconds, it will take the screenshot.

Step Eight

If the screenshot in Grab looks good, then save it and exit out from the Grab app. If it is not what you wanted, or you notice something is wrong, take another one.

Using this method, your newly saved screenshot from Grab will be saved on your desktop as a .PNG file. The name will be Screen Shot [DATE + TIME], so it will be very easy to find. From here you can double click to open it. If you want to share it, click preview, and then you are given the option to share. If you prefer to share it with another app however, right click the thumbnail on your desktop and choose the option “Open With”. Or, you can drag and drop it to the app you want to use to share it.

As you can see, Mac has tons of options when it comes to screenshotting. And thankfully, they are all pretty easy to remember and execute. There may be even more options, but this is a pretty comprehensive list that will get you whatever you need. I would recommend playing around with both Grab and the keyboard shortcuts and see what works best for you. Even once you master the art of screenshots, you may not be able to take screenshots of everything. Some apps, such as the DVD Player, may not let you take a screenshot while using the app. This is, of course, to protect from copyright infringement, piracy, and all that stuff. Unless otherwise directly stated, all of these methods of taking screenshots will work on OS Sierra, OS X El Capitan, OS X Yosemite, and most other older Mac operating systems.

I know I put this as the first step on most of the tutorials, but it is very important that you get your screen set up exactly the way you want it to look in the screenshot. Make sure all of the relevant windows and tabs are open and that the irrelevant ones aren’t. it is just easier to take a little time and precaution and make sure you do this so that you don’t end up with a screenshot you are unhappy with, or end up taking 50 screenshots of virtually the same thing. This will just clutter up your desktop with unnecessary files.

This is another reason to think about using the Grab app. You can make sure your screenshot is what you want before saving it to your desktop. I personally find the keyboard shortcuts to be easier, but it is a matter of personal preference. Surely there is no need to use the keyboard shortcuts if you have a hard time remembering them and the Grab app is easier. In the end, the goal of taking screenshots is to make your life easier, so use whatever method is the easiest for you personally.