How to take a screenshot with Mac OS X

OS X makes it super simple to take a screenshot of not only any app but any area of the Mac desktop. This comes in handy if you ever need to share something with someone, like scores on a game, frames from your favorite videos, bugs you want to document, or even how-to posts like this! After you take a screenshot on your Mac, it will simply appear on your desktop for you to share as you'd like.

How to take a screenshot of your entire desktop in Mac OS X

  1. Open the program or applications you'd like to include in the screenshot. Basically, set up your desktop as you'd like it for when you take the screenshot. This is what will appear in the image.
  2. On your keyboard, press Command + Shift + 3 and then release all keys.
  3. Go to the desktop of your Mac and you should notice the addition of a new .png file that contains the words **screenshot in the title. This is the screenshot you just took.
  4. Double click on the file and it will launch in Preview or your image viewer of choice. You should see the image of your desktop as it was when you snapped the screenshot. You can now share it however you'd like.

How to take a screenshot of a specific area of your desktop in Mac OS X

  1. Pull up the application, window, or other item you'd like to take a screenshot for. This works for images on the web or virtually anything you could think of.
  2. On your keyboard, press Command + Shift + 4 and then release all keys.
  3. You will now see that your mouse cursor has turned into crosshairs that you can move around.
  4. Drag the cursor to where you'd like to start one of the corners of the screenshot and press down and drag the mouse over the area you'd like to capture.
  5. When you're done selecting the area simply release your mouse button.
  6. Now check your desktop and you should see a new .png file that contains the screenshot you just took.

That's all there is to it. You can take selective screenshots as well as full desktop screenshots in Mac OS X from virtually anywhere you'd like.

Allyson Kazmucha

Help and how to editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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There are 11 comments. Add yours.

R1cki97 says:

thanks, i never knew about the 2nd way to take a screenshot, really helpful, thumbs up!!

Graham Booker says:

How to take a screenshot of a single window in OS X
On the keyboard hit Cmd-Shft-4
Hit the spacebar.
Click on the window you wish to screenshot.

Vassi Mladenov says:

Beat me to it. It would be nice if you could add this to the tutorial, Allyson. Great reference!

Ron Miller 85763 says:

I was about to add the same thing ... I find this extremely useful!

wizard32843 says:

Can't believe the post missed this...
And here's a bonus: "Control" + Command + Shift + 3/4 to save the screenshot to clipboard.

Allyson Kazmucha says:

Will add all of these tips later tonight or tomorrow :) Mobile now and can't get screenshots! forgot about the spacebar one and didn't know about the clipboard. thanks guys!

Becjr says:

This is by far my favorite way to screen capture. I've had an issue when using the Brightness Slider app from the Mac App Store preventing me from using "Command Shift 4 Space", though, so if anyone else out there is having trouble with this combination... There ya go.

Sent from the iMore App

mmmpow3r says:

Nice! I've been using the Grab tool...thanks!

Dale Fletcher says:

This is not working for me on my Macbook Pro. I have iOS 10.8.4 when I click simultaneously on CMD SHIFT 3, nothing happens. :-( Interestingly though, CMD SHIFT 4 works. ;-)

Sonali Bhaumik says:

Plase like my videos and subscribe to my youtube channel.

William Duke says:

The default way of pressing key combinations works fine on Mac, however, using it to take a screenshot isn't feasible enough. In fact, aside from this method, there exists other options for you including web-based screenshot tool, browser extension and desktop program. Learn more details here: