Screenshot on Mac Not Working? 5 Ways to Fix It

Fix the screenshot feature and get back to capturing images

The screenshot feature is built into macOS, so you don't need any additional software; it should just work. When you can't take a screenshot on a Mac, you are missing a useful tool for troubleshooting and communicating ideas through email and text messages.

Whether you use the tried and true keyboard shortcuts for taking screenshots or prefer to go through the Preview app or the Screenshot app (in Mojave or later) for that purpose, one of these fixes should get your Mac's screenshot feature up and running.

Apple Mac
Getty Images

Information in this article applies to Macs with macOS Catalina (10.15) through macOS Sierra (10.12), except as noted.

How to Fix it When You Can't take a Mac Screenshot

It's rare that screenshots don't work on a Mac, so it may be easy to discover why your Mac isn't performing as expected. There are several things you can do to pinpoint the problem. If everything else works correctly on the Mac, the keyboard is working properly and can be ruled out as the source of the problem.

  1. Turn off the Mac and turn it back on. Running a Mac for long periods without shutting it down can cause it to perform inefficiently or prevent certain apps from working properly. If the screenshot feature on your Mac isn't working, shut down the Mac and turn it on again.

  2. Check the keyboard shortcut settings. These settings are turned on by default but may have been switched off at some point or set to keyboard combinations other than the defaults. To check this, go to System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts. There you can see whether keyboard shortcuts have been turned off or reassigned to other actions.

  3. Reset the NVRAM. Similar to a simple restart, resetting the non-volatile random-access memory (NVRAM) can sometimes resolve issues with basic Mac apps and functionality. This memory is responsible for controlling many of the internal settings of the computer.

  4. Confirm the location for saving screenshots in the Screenshot app. Although the default is to save screenshots to the Desktop, if you changed that setting, your screenshots may be hiding somewhere you haven't looked. Check the location on the floating menu bar.

  5. Check Your Dropbox settings. If you have Dropbox on your Mac, you may have set it so that screenshots are saved to your Dropbox rather than to your Mac's Desktop.