How to Change the Location and File Format for Mac Screenshots

Store screenshots as JPG, TIFF, GIF, PNG, or PDF files

What to Know

  • Change the file format: In Terminal, enter defaults write type [preferred file type] and press Enter.
  • Change destination: Create a folder. In Terminal, enter defaults write location, drag the folder in, and press Enter.
  • Changes don't take effect until you restart your computer.

MacOS captures screenshots using PNG as the default image format, which provides lossless compression and preserves image quality while creating relatively small files. But you may want to save your screenshots in another file format or save them to a different location. We show you how using any Mac computer.

How to Change a Screenshot Format to Different File Types

You can use Terminal, an application included in macOS, to change the default graphics format. Here's how:

  1. Launch Terminal.

    To open Terminal, enter "terminal" into Spotlight, or use a Finder window and navigate to Applications > Utilities > Terminal.

    Terminal on a Mac
  2. Enter one of the following commands into the Terminal window, depending on the file type you would prefer (jpg, tiff, gif, or pdf).

    defaults write type jpg
    defaults write type tiff
    defaults write type gif
    defaults write type pdf
    A command in Terminal
  3. Press the Return or Enter key on your keyboard. Screenshots you take will now save as the file format you entered in Terminal.

    This change will not take effect until you restart the computer.

How to Set the Destination for Saved Screenshots

Now that you know how to set the format for your screenshots, you can also use Terminal to change the destination for screenshots you take instead of sending them all to the desktop.

Here's how:

  1. Create a new folder in whatever location you'd prefer screenshots to be saved.

  2. Type the following command into Terminal, but do not press Enter yet:

    defaults write location
  3. Drag the folder you created into Terminal, and it will automatically add the path information to the end of the command.

  4. Press Enter on your keyboard. Now, screenshots will save to this folder instead of your desktop.

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