Learn the basics of how to take screenshots on your Mac

Updated : Nov 19, 2021
Sleeping cats

There are many things you can do with the screenshot function of the Mac, and I think it’s hard to understand at first glance.

Therefore, it is recommended that you first grasp the basic flow and learn the detailed functions as needed.

So, this page explains the basics of Mac screenshots in an easy-to-understand manner using flowcharts and illustrations.

5 basic keyboard shortcuts for Mac screenshots

The screenshot feature on Mac has five basic keyboard shortcuts:

かわうそ君
Mr. Otter

It’s the same up to the first shift + command ⌘ , but the numbers and space that follow are different!

小悪魔キツネ
Little devil fox

Macs with a touch bar are limited to some MacBook Pros.

Moreover, the touch bar is being abolished from Apple Silicon Mac.

Therefore, if you know only the four items ① to ④, there is no problem.

ContentOperation
① Capture full screenshift + command ⌘ + 3
② Capture in any areashift + command ⌘ + 4
③ Capture a windows or menushift + command ⌘ + 4
and

space

④ Launch “Screenshot.app”

(macOS 10.14 Mojave or later)

shift + command ⌘ + 5
⑤ Capture touch bar

(Only touch bar models)

shift + command ⌘ + 6

If you operate 5 basic keyboard shortcuts, the flow will be as shown in the flowchart below.

かわうそ君
Mr. Otter

You don’t have to force yourself to read this flowchart.

As you get used to using screenshots, you can take a look at them for a review.

小悪魔キツネ
Little devil fox

Due to the screen layout, it is displayed in a reduced size, so click it to enlarge it.

Mac screenshot basic flowchart
かわうそ君
Mr. Otter

After “Execution of screenshot”, you can do various operations on macOS 10.14 Mojave or later.

So, from here on, I will explain the operation contents from ① to ⑤.

3 additional keyboard shortcuts to keep in mind

In addition to the five basic keyboard shortcuts in the previous section, it’s helpful to remember the following three:

ContentOperation
Interruption of screenshot operationesc
Copy to clipboard
(File won’t be saved)
control ⌃ with other keys
Capture without shadowsoption ⌥ with other keys

Let me give you a few concrete examples.

For example, for a full screen screenshot, the following shortcut.

  • shift + command ⌘ + 3

On the other hand, if you want to copy the full screen screenshot to the clipboard:

  • shift + command ⌘ + 3 + control ⌃

Also, the screenshot feature on your Mac defaults to “With shadow”, but you can set it to “No shadow”.

【With shadow】

Mac screenshot shadow

 

【No shadow】

Mac screenshot shadow

 

① Capture full screen

The operation procedure is as follows.

▶ Press the following three keys at the same time to call the function with the keyboard shortcut.

  • shift + command ⌘ + 3
Mac US Keyboard

Combined with the additional keyboard shortcuts introduced earlier, you can do the following:

With shadowNo shadow
Save to fileDefault operation

shift + command ⌘ + 3

shift + command ⌘ + 3
+ option ⌥
Copy to clipboardshift + command ⌘ + 3
+ control ⌃
shift + command ⌘ + 3
optionl ⌥ + control ⌃

▶ You will hear a “shutter” sound and the screenshot image will be saved on your desktop.

For multiple displays, a screenshot image file is created for each display.

Also, if macOS is 10.14 Mojave or later, thumbnails will be displayed at the bottom right of the screen for about 5 seconds.

However, if you copy it to the clipboard, only the shutter sound will be heard and the file will not be saved or the thumbnail will be displayed.

▶ You can perform the following operations while the thumbnail at the bottom right of the screen is displayed.

OperationDescription
① Swipe the thumbnail to the rightScreenshot image is saved immediately
② Swipe the thumbnail to the leftThe edit screen is displayed
③ Right-click the thumbnailThe operation menu is displayed

For ② and ③, the following screen will be displayed.

【② When left-clicking the thumbnail】

macOS screenshot markup

【③ When right-clicking the thumbnail】

(Click “Markup” to display the same edit screen as ②.)

Mac Screenshot Floating Thumbnail

“Markup” means “calibrate” or “insert a red brush”.

② Capture in any area

▶ Press the following three keys at the same time to call the function with the keyboard shortcut.

  • shift + command ⌘ + 4
Mac US Keyboard

▶ When the cursor with crosses and numbers is displayed as shown in the figure, move the cursor to the upper left, lower left, upper right, or lower right position of the range you want to capture in the screenshot.

Mac Screenshot cursor

▶ After moving the cursor, click and hold the mouse or trackpad and drag to specify the range you want to capture.

The area where the range is specified is displayed in a different color as shown in the figure.

Even if you specify a range, do not let go of the clicked finger and proceed to the following explanation.

By the way, if you want to stop the screenshot, press esc on your keyboard.

Mac Screenshot cursor

▶ There are the following ways to perform the capture.

The most frequently used operation is to release the finger and save the file, but if necessary, use it in combination with the keyboard shortcut.

With shadowNo shadow
Save to fileDefault operation

Release the clicked finger

First press and hold option ⌥,
then
release the clicked finger
Copy to clipboardFirst press and hold control ⌃,
then
release the clicked finger
First press and hold option ⌥ + control ⌃,
then
release the clicked finger

▶ You will hear a “shutter” sound and the screenshot image will be saved on your desktop.

For multiple displays, a screenshot image file is created for each display.

Also, if macOS is 10.14 Mojave or later, thumbnails will be displayed at the bottom right of the screen for about 5 seconds.

However, if you copy it to the clipboard, only the shutter sound will be heard and the file will not be saved or the thumbnail will be displayed.

▶ You can perform the following operations while the thumbnail at the bottom right of the screen is displayed.

OperationDescription
① Swipe the thumbnail to the rightScreenshot image is saved immediately
② Swipe the thumbnail to the leftThe edit screen is displayed
③ Right-click the thumbnailThe operation menu is displayed

For ② and ③, the following screen will be displayed.

【② When left-clicking the thumbnail】

macOS screenshot markup

【③ When right-clicking the thumbnail】

(Click “Markup” to display the same edit screen as ②.)

Mac Screenshot Floating Thumbnail

“Markup” means “calibrate” or “insert a red brush”.

③ Capture a windows or menu

▶ Press the following three keys at the same time to call the function with the keyboard shortcut.

  • shift + command ⌘ + 4
Mac US Keyboard

▶ When you see the cursor with the crosses and numbers as shown, press space on your keyboard.

Mac Screenshot cursor
Mac US Keyboard

▶ The crosshair cursor changes to a camera icon.

When it changes, move the cursor to the window or menu you want to import.

Then, the background color of the window or menu to be imported will change as shown in the figure.

Even if you specify the import target, do not click or press the keyboard yet, and proceed to the following explanation.

By the way, if you want to stop the screenshot, press esc on your keyboard.

Mac screenshot cursor

▶ There are the following ways to perform the capture.

The most frequently used operation is to click and save the file to complete, but use it in combination with the keyboard shortcut if necessary.

With shadowNo shadow
Save to fileDefault operation

Click

First press and hold option ⌥,
then click
Copy to clipboardFirst press and hold control ⌃,
then click
First press and hold option ⌥ + control ⌃,
then click
かわうそ君
Mr. Otter

Click left or right.

You can also use the keyboard return.

▶ You will hear a “shutter” sound and the screenshot image will be saved on your desktop.

For multiple displays, a screenshot image file is created for each display.

Also, if macOS is 10.14 Mojave or later, thumbnails will be displayed at the bottom right of the screen for about 5 seconds.

However, if you copy it to the clipboard, only the shutter sound will be heard and the file will not be saved or the thumbnail will be displayed.

▶ You can perform the following operations while the thumbnail at the bottom right of the screen is displayed.

OperationDescription
① Swipe the thumbnail to the rightScreenshot image is saved immediately
② Swipe the thumbnail to the leftThe edit screen is displayed
③ Right-click the thumbnailThe operation menu is displayed

For ② and ③, the following screen will be displayed.

【② When left-clicking the thumbnail】

macOS screenshot markup

【③ When right-clicking the thumbnail】

(Click “Markup” to display the same edit screen as ②.)

Mac Screenshot Floating Thumbnail

“Markup” means “calibrate” or “insert a red brush”.

④ Launch “Screenshot.app” (macOS 10.14 Mojave or later)

macOS Genuine Screenshot.app

From macOS 10.14 Mojave, the screenshot function of Mac has been enhanced and a new genuine application called “Screenshot” is included.

You can call the “Screenshot.app” app by the following operation method.

▶ Press the following three keys at the same time to call the function with the keyboard shortcut.

  • shift + command ⌘ + 5
Mac US Keyboard

▶ As shown in the figure, a list of icons and menu items for operating “Screenshot” is displayed at the bottom of the screen.

Mac screenshot.app dock

The following is a description of each icon and menu item.

ItemDescription
・Capture Full Screen
・Same as “① Capture full screen”
・Capture a window or menu
・Same as “③ Capture a window or menu
・Capture in any area
・Same as “② Capture in any area
・Record full screen
・Record in any area

・Click to display menu
・See table below for details
・Capture
・Start to record
 
かわうそ君
Mr. Otter

When you click “Options”, the following menu will be displayed.

A description of each item is just following the figure.

Mac "Screeshot.app"

Save to :

ItemDescription
DesktopSave as image file(s) in the folder “Desktop”
DocumentsSave as image file(s) in the folder “Documents”
ClipboardCopy to clipboard
MailAttach image file(s) to Apple genuine application “Mail.app”
MessagesAttach image file(s) to Apple genuine application “Messages.app”
PreviewDisplay image file(s) with Apple genuine application “Preview.app”
Other Location…Save as image file(s) in the specified location

Timer :

ItemDescription
NoneImmediately capture / record
5 SecondsAfter 5 seconds capture / record
10 SecondsAfter 10 seconds capture / record

Options :

ItemDescription
Show Floating ThumbnailDisplay the thumbnail
at the bottom right
immediately after the screenshot
Remember Last SelectionMemorize selected area
Show Mouse PointerShow mouse pointer
on a screenshot image / video

⑤ Capture touch bar (Only touch bar models)

かわうそ君
Mr. Otter

Since I don’t have a Mac with a touch bar, I will write a summary of what I searched on the net, not what I actually operated on the Mac.

Macbook Proのタッチバーのスクリーンショットを撮る方法
スクリーンショットは、Appleデバイスの標準機能です。 iOSデバイスとMacの両方に、ディスプレイのスクリーンショットを撮ることができます。デスクトップシステムであるMacには、はるかに豊富なオプションがあります。

Press the following three keys at the same time to call the function with the keyboard shortcut.

  • shift + command ⌘ + 6
Mac US Keyboard

Combined with the additional keyboard shortcuts introduced earlier, you can do the following:

With shadowNo shadow
Save to fileDefault operation

shift + command ⌘ + 6

shift + command ⌘ + 6
+ option ⌥
Copy to clipboardshift + command ⌘ + 6
+ control ⌃
shift + command ⌘ + 6
optionl ⌥ + control ⌃

▶ You will hear a “shutter” sound and the screenshot image will be saved on your desktop.

For multiple displays, a screenshot image file is created for each display.

Also, if macOS is 10.14 Mojave or later, thumbnails will be displayed at the bottom right of the screen for about 5 seconds.

However, if you copy it to the clipboard, only the shutter sound will be heard and the file will not be saved or the thumbnail will be displayed.

▶ You can perform the following operations while the thumbnail at the bottom right of the screen is displayed.

OperationDescription
① Swipe the thumbnail to the rightScreenshot image is saved immediately
② Swipe the thumbnail to the leftThe edit screen is displayed
③ Right-click the thumbnailThe operation menu is displayed

For ② and ③, the following screen will be displayed.

【② When left-clicking the thumbnail】

macOS screenshot markup

【③ When right-clicking the thumbnail】

(Click “Markup” to display the same edit screen as ②.)

Mac Screenshot Thumbnail

“Markup” means “calibrate” or “insert a red brush”.

Conclusion

As I wrote at the beginning, the screenshot function of Mac is becoming more and more multifunctional and difficult to operate.

However, I think that most of your needs can be met by keeping only the first two of this article.

From there, it’s a good idea to learn other features as needed or search for apps online.

Reference information

Take a screenshot on your Mac
You can capture the entire screen, a window, or just a portion of the screen.

This is the end of this article.

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