How to Take a Screenshot on Mac

Four ways to snap screenshots and where to find them on your Mac

What to Know

  • Press and hold shift + command + 3 for a quick screenshot.
  • Use shift + command + 4 or shift + command + 4 + spacebar to capture a portion of the screen or an entire window.
  • Launch the screenshot app by use shift + command + 5 key combo and choose the type of screenshot you'd like to capture.

This article covers how to take screenshots on a Mac with key combinations and the screenshot app built into macOS, which was introduced with macOS Mojave (10.14).

The screenshots below are from macOS Catalina (10.15), but you can use the same commands in earlier versions of macOS and Mac OS X.

How to Take a Screen Grab on Mac

There are several key combinations that you can use to take screenshots on Mac, with shift + command + 3 being the most commonly used. This key combination immediately snaps a screenshot of your entire screen, including all visible windows, the desktop, the dock, and any other visible elements.

  1. Open the window you want to screenshot, or otherwise arrange the screen to your liking.

    The desktop of a Mac.
  2. Press and hold shift + command + 3.

  3. You will hear a snapshot sound, and a small image of your screenshot will appear in the bottom right corner of the screen.

    An example of a screenshot on a Mac.
  4. If you click the thumbnail in the bottom right corner of the screen, you can open a preview of the screenshot.

    A screenshot of a screenshot on Mac.
    When you click the small image, it will open as a quick preview.

How to Screenshot Part of the Screen on Mac

If you only want to capture part of the screen, the most flexible option is to use the shift + command + 4 key combination. Using this combination changes your mouse cursor into crosshairs, allowing you to select any portion of the screen to capture.

  1. Press and hold shift + command + 4.

  2. When the mouse cursor changes into a crosshair, place the crosshair at the upper left corner of the area you want to capture.

    The crosshair is displayed when taking a screenshot on a Mac.
  3. Click your mouse, and drag a box to cover the area you want to capture.

    An area highlighted when capturing a portion of the screen on a Mac.
  4. When you release the mouse button, your Mac will capture a screenshot of the highlighted area.

    How to tell if you've successfully captured a part of the screen on a Mac.

How to Capture a Single Window on Mac

If you want to screenshot a single window, then you can use a variation on the previous key combination. This option changes your cursor into a camera icon and lets you snap a shot of any active window.

  1. Open the window you need a screenshot of, then press and hold shift + command + 4 + spacebar.

    A screenshot of a browser window on Mac.
  2. Your cursor will turn into a camera.

    The camera icon highlighted to show you're going to capture a single window screenshot on a Mac.
  3. Move the camera icon over the window you want to capture, and click.

    A screenshot of screenshotting a window on Mac.
  4. Your Mac will take a screenshot of the window you clicked, and a preview will appear in the bottom right corner of the screen.

    How to know if you've successfully captured an entire window screenshot on a Mac.

How to Use the Screenshot App on Mac

Your Mac also has a screenshot app that provides some more advanced option as long as you have upgraded the operating system to Mojave (10.14) or newer. This compact app gives you action to the same basic capture options you can achieve with key combinations, but it also allows you to delay your screenshot and provides some other options.

  1. Press and hold shift + command + 5 to open the screenshot app.

  2. To screenshot the entire screen, click the left screenshot icon that looks like a box with a line at the bottom, then click anywhere on the screen.

    The button to use to capture an entire screen on a Mac.
  3. To screenshot a window, click the middle screenshot icon that looks like a window, then click the window you want to capture.

    The button to use to capture a single window on a Mac.
  4. To capture a specific area of your screen, click the right screenshot icon, click and drag the highlighted area, then click capture to screenshot the specified area.

    The button to use to capture a portion of the screen on a Mac.
  5. You can also click Options to access a variety of settings.

    The Options button highlighted in the Mac's screenshot app.
  6. Within the options menu you can:

    • Choose the location where your screenshots are saved.
    • Set a delay timer for your screenshots.
    • Choose a microphone for video recordings.
    • Set advanced options.
    The options available under the Mac's screenshot tool's Options menu.

Where Are Screenshots Stored on Mac?

By default, your screenshots are saved directly to your desktop. If you don't see them there, then you or someone else changed the location where screenshots are saved at some point in the past.

If you can't find your screenshots, try this:

  1. Press shift + command + 5 to open the screenshot app, then click Options.

    The Options button highlighted in the Mac's screenshot app.
  2. In the Save to section, note the option that has a check mark next to it. That is where you will find your screenshots.

    Here's where you can change where your screenshot is saved in the Options menu in the Mac's screenshot app.

    Use Spotlight to search for "screen shot" if you suspect that you may have screen shots stored in a variety of locations. This search will turn up every screen shot that's stored on your computer.