How to Take a Screenshot In Mac OS X and Mail It

Screenshots Come in Handy When Troubleshooting a Problem with Your Mac

A man using a MacBook on a desk.

The next time you are on the phone or an internet chat with a technician who is trying to troubleshoot a problem you are having with your Mac, instead of trying to describe what you see, tell the support person, "I'll email you a screenshot." They will love you for it.

A picture of what you see on the Mac's screen – a screenshot – relieves you from the stress of trying to describe what's going on, and it helps others get a better understanding of the problem from afar. Here's how to capture a screenshot and mail it.

Make a Screenshot in Mac OS X and Mail It

You may want to take a screenshot of your entire Mac display or of just a portion of it. Here's how.

  • Press Command-Shift-3 to take a screenshot of the entire screen. 
  • Go to the desktop to locate the screenshot. It is named "Screen Shot" with a date and time appended.
  • Double-click the newly created screenshot to open it in the Preview app.
  • Use the cursor to highlight the desired region of the screen. (This isn't necessary if you want to send the entire screen image.)
  • Select Tools in the menu bar and Crop from the menu that appears to crop the image.
  • Now select File > Save from the menu, which overwrites the original image with the cropped image or Export, to save a separate copy and maintain the original screenshot. In the Export screen, give the cropped image a name and select JPEG or PDF from the Format drop-down menu.
  • Click Save.
  • Open your email program.
  • Attach the newly created screenshot on the desktop to a new message or reply and send it.

Taking a Screenshot of Part of the Screen

If you know exactly what part of the screen you want to include in the screenshot, there's an even faster way to prepare your screenshot:

  1. Press Command-Shift-4, which changes your cursor to a cross-hair.

  2. Use it to click and drag around the area you want to include in the screenshot.

  3. When you have surrounded the area you want, release the cursor and the screenshot of just the area you selected is saved to the desktop.