How to Take a Screenshot on a MacBook Air

Different screen capture methods and troubleshooting tips

What to Know

  • Press command + shift + 3 to take a fullscreen screenshot on your MacBook Air laptop.
  • Press command + shift + 4 + spacebar to take a screenshot of a single app or window.
  • Open the Screenshot app with command + shift + 5 to do a screen recording on MacBook Air.

This guide walks you through the various ways to take a screenshot on a MacBook Air laptop. It covers all of the keyboard shortcuts for taking screenshots and also includes information on how to start a MacBook Air screen recording and change the screencap settings.

How Do I Take a Screenshot of All on My MacBook Air?

The quickest and easiest way to take a screenshot of your entire screen on a MacBook is to use the command + shift + 3 keyboard shortcut. Press all three of these keys at the same time to screenshot all of the items visible on your MacBook’s screen.

The screenshot will be saved to your desktop as a PNG file and a quick preview of it will appear in the lower-right corner of your screen which you can click on to preview, edit, share, or delete it. The little preview in the lower right corner will eventually go away, so if you are taking several screenshots in a row, it's a good idea to wait a moment until the preview slide disappears.

To save a screenshot to your clipboard, add the control key to any MacBook Air screenshot keyboard combination.

Screenshot preview on a MacBook Air

How to Screenshot Part of Your MacBook Air’s Screen

To take a screenshot of just a specific part of your desktop or an app on your MacBook Air, press command + shift + 4. The pointer will then into a crosshair for you to click and drag so you can select the part of the screen you want to capture.

A screenshot being selected and taken on a MacBook Air.

A screenshot of the selected area will appear as a temporary preview in the lower-right of the screen and will save to your desktop as a PNG file.

Screenshot preview in on a MacBook Air

How to Screenshot an App Window on a MacBook Air

If you just want to take a screenshot of a open window or app instead of the entire screen, press command + shift + 4 + spacebar at the same time and then click on the window you want to screenshot. The cursor will turn into a small camera icon.

The app window will turn blue when you hover your mouse cursor over it to indicate which app is being selected.

A window screenshot being taken on Mac.

As with the other MacBook Air screenshot methods, a screenshot of an individual app or window will also save to your desktop and display a temporary clickable preview after it’s created.

Screenshot of a web browser being saved on MacBook Air

How to Make a Screen Recording and More on MacBook Air

MacBook Air laptops running macOS Mojave or later come with a preinstalled app called Screenshot. This app offers a variety of screencap options including more advanced features such as timed screenshots and even video recordings.

  1. Press command + shift + 5 to open the Screenshot app on MacBook Air.

  2. The first option on the far left of the Screenshot menu, Capture Entire Screen, makes a screencap of everything currently showing on your MacBook Air’s monitor.

    Mac screenshot app on MacBook Air with Capture Entire Screen option highlighted
  3. The second option from the left, Capture Selected Window, will take a screenshot of a single open app or window that you select.

    Mac Screenshot app on MacBook Air with Capture Selected Window highlighted
  4. The third option, Capture Selected Portion, may be pre-selected when you open the Screenshot app. It creates a select tool which you can use to take a screenshot a specific part of your screen.

    Mac screenshot app on MacBook Air
  5. Record Entire Screen is the fourth option. Choosing this menu item will begin a video recording of your desktop and whatever apps you’re using. This can be useful if you ever need to make a video to show someone how to do something on their own MacBook Air.

    Mac screenshot app on MacBook Air with Record Entire Screen option selected
  6. Record Selected Portion, the final main menu item, can be used to record a video of a specific section of your screen.

    Mac Screenshot app on MacBook Air with Record Selected Portion option selected
  7. The Screenshot app’s Options menu contains a variety of ways to customize your MacBook Air’s screenshot settings.

    For example, you can change how your MacBook Air screenshots are saved by choosing a different file location or app under Save to. Select Other Location to find a location or app not on the default list.

    The Timer settings can be used to create a delay between the time you start a screenshot and the time it’s taken. This can be useful if you need to quickly move somethings out of the way before the screen recording or screenshot is taken.

    The final three settings under Options allow you to customize your screenshots even more.

    • Show Floating Thumbnail: This can enable or disable the small preview that appears after the screenshot is taken.
    • Remember Last Selection: This option allows the selection tool to open in the same place and size that it was when you last used it to take a screenshot.
    • Show Mouse Pointer: This will either hide or show the mouse cursor in the screenshots and recordings that you make on your MacBook Air.
    Mac Screenshot app on MacBook Air with Options menu open

How to Take a Screenshot of the Touch Bar

To screenshot the MacBook Air’s Touch Bar located just above the keyboard, press command + shift + 6.

Why Can't I Take a Screenshot on My MacBook Air?

If you’re having trouble taking screenshots on your MacBook Air, you may be trying to take a screencap of an app that has some form of copyright protection in place. Lots of streaming media apps and websites like Netflix and Disney Plus often place these restrictions on their services to prevent piracy and to protect the rights of their partners.

To make a screenshot of streaming media on a MacBook Air, you may need to install a third-party screenshot app that’s designed to work around these restrictions. Another option is to use a screen capture or recording program such as OBS Studio or a browser extension like FireShot.

If you suspect something else is the problem, there are several fixes for Mac screenshot bugs that you may want to try.

How Do I Take a Screenshot on My Mac Without Dragging It?

If you’re finding it difficult to highlight an area during the screenshot process, you may want to try taking a screenshot of the entire screen and then editing the image afterwards to highlight the area you want.

Where Is Image Capture on My MacBook Air?

Image Capture is a free app that comes pre-installed on all MacBook Air computers. Despite its name, Image Capture isn’t used to capture images of your screen as screenshots but rather to import photos from cameras and other devices.

The easiest way to find the Image Capture app on a MacBook is via Launch Pad > Other. It can also be located in Go > Finder > Applications.

  • Can I change where Mac screenshots are saved?

    Yes, you can change the location and file format for screenshots on Mac using Terminal commands. Screenshots are saved as PNG files on your desktop by default.

  • How do I convert a PNG file to another format?

    To convert PNG to JPEG and other formats, open the image in Preview and select File Export, then choose a format. You can also use an online conversion tool like Convertio.

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