How to save Mac screenshots as jpeg or pdf

Updated : Nov 21, 2021
Toy Poodle

When you take a screenshot of your Mac, it is saved to your desktop in PNG format by default.

On this page, I will explain in detail how to change to JPEG / PDF or other image formats, how to restore them, and how to check the current image format using the “Terminal.app”.

List of file save formats that can be set in the screenshot

Little devil fox
Little devil fox

Looking at the list, there are various storage formats, but I usually use the following three types.

  • Picture : JPEG
  • Illustration : PNG
  • Document with letters : PDF

Other formats should only be used when there is a purpose such as wanting to use it with a specific application or a specific OS.

FormatDescription
PNG・Default file format
・Suitable for illustrations
JPEG・Suitable for pictures
PDF・Suitable for documents with multiple pages
・Characters can be embedded using the OCR function app
GIF・Suitable for GIF animation
TIFF・Suitable for high-quality digital camera photography
BMP・Windows old image format
PSD・Adobe Photoshop format
JPEG 2000・Improved version of JPEG
・Image quality is better than JPEG
・Some apps do not support
TGA・Used for animation and game development
PICT・Old Classic Mac (OS 8 and OS 9) standard image formats prior to macOS
SGI・Image format created by Silicon Graphics

① How to change the screenshot save format

Mac configuration

▶ Open the “Utilities” -> “Applications” folder in the Finder and double-click the “Terminal.app”.

Mac "Terminal.app"

▶ When “Terminal.app” is launched, copy and paste the following command to the position where the cursor is.

FormatCommand
PNG
defaults write com.apple.screencapture type png
JPEG
defaults write com.apple.screencapture type jpg

or

defaults write com.apple.screencapture type jpeg
PDF
defaults write com.apple.screencapture type pdf
GIF
defaults write com.apple.screencapture type gif
TIFF
defaults write com.apple.screencapture type tif
or
defaults write com.apple.screencapture type tiff
BMP
defaults write com.apple.screencapture type bmp
PSD
defaults write com.apple.screencapture type psd
JPEG 2000
defaults write com.apple.screencapture type jp2
TGA
defaults write com.apple.screencapture type tga
PICT
defaults write com.apple.screencapture type pict
SGI
defaults write com.apple.screencapture type sgi

Below is a sample.

In the figure below, the command to change to JPEG format is copied and pasted as an example.

defaults write com.apple.screencapture type jpg
Mac "Terminal.app"

▶ Press return on your keyboard to execute the command.

Mac US Keyboard

▶ After executing the command, take a screenshot to see if the save format has changed properly.

If you can confirm it, you can close “Terminal.app”.

Mac "Terminal.app"

This is the end of the explanation, “① How to change the screenshot save format”.

② How to restore the screenshot save format

▶ Open the “Utilities” -> “Applications” folder in the Finder and double-click the “Terminal.app”.

Mac "Terminal.app"

▶ When “Terminal.app” is launched, copy and paste the following command to the position where the cursor is.

defaults delete com.apple.screencapture type
Mac "Terminal.app"

▶ Press return on your keyboard to execute the command.

Mac US Keyboard

▶ When you execute the command, one of the following two patterns will be displayed.

When either is displayed, the save format is back to the original format, that is, PNG format.

  • a) No particular error
  • b) Error message displayed

a) No particular error

Mac "Terminal.app"

b) Error message displayed

Mac "Terminal.app"

The error message in b) has the following content:

Domain (com.apple.screencapture) not found. 
Defaults have not been changed.
Mr. Otter
Mr. Otter

The result of a) is that the changed setting information was deleted, so the deletion was completed without any error being displayed.

Little devil fox
Little devil fox

That’s right.

The result of b) is that I tried to delete the setting information, but no setting was made, so an error occurred.

▶ After executing the command, take a screenshot to see if the save format has changed properly.

If you can confirm it, you can close “Terminal.app”.

This is the end of the explanation, “② How to restore the screenshot save format”.

③ How to check the screenshot save format

Magnifying Glass

▶ Open the “Utilities” -> “Applications” folder in the Finder and double-click the “Terminal.app”.

Mac "Terminal.app"

▶ When “Terminal.app” is launched, copy and paste the following command to the position where the cursor is.

defaults read com.apple.screencapture type
Mac "Terminal.app"

▶ Press return on your keyboard to execute the command.

Mac US Keyboard

▶ When you execute the command, one of the following two patterns will be displayed.

When either is displayed, the save format is back to the original format, that is, PNG format.

  • a) Display file formats such as “jpg”
  • b) Error message displayed

a) Display file formats such as “jpg”

Mac "Terminal.app"

b) Error message displayed

Mac "Terminal.app"

The error message in b) has the following content:

The domain/default pair of (com.apple.screencapture, type) does not exist
Mr. Otter
Mr. Otter

The result of a) is that the file format was displayed without any error because the changed setting information was read.

Little devil fox
Little devil fox

That’s right.

The result of b) is that I tried to delete the setting information, but no setting was made, so an error occurred.

▶ If you can confirm it, you can close “Terminal.app”.

This is the end of the explanation, “③ How to check the screenshot save format”.

Conclusion

That’s all for changing the file format of Mac screenshots.

The following article will show you how to change the location of screenshots with similar content.

スクリーンショットの保存先やファイル形式を変更する3つの方法
Macでスクリーンショットを撮ったときの保存先やファイル形式を変更する手順を3つ紹介します。 それぞれの方法にはメリット・デメリットがありますので、そのあたりもあわせて説明します。

Reference information

Macのスクリーンショットをカスタマイズする方法 - Qiita
はじめに Macでは 「macOS でスクリーンショットを撮る方法」の記事にある通りOS標準でスクリーンショットを撮ることができます。デフォルトでは「ファイル形式」「保存先」「ファイル名」が決まっていますが、これを変更することが...

This is the end of this article.

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