Screen Capture in Mac OS X
I use screenshots constantly to share bits of information with people, and they can be really helpful when troubleshooting as well.
Here’s all you’ll need to know about taking screenshots in Mac OS X, from capturing the screen in Mac OS X Finder and within applications, to changing the default screenshot file type, to taking screenshots from the command line.
Capturing screenshots in Mac OS X
You can use any of these commands to take screenshots directly in Mac OS X Finder or any running applications:
- Command+Shift+3: takes a screenshot of the full screen (or screens if multiple monitors), and save it as a file to the desktop
- Command+Shift+4: brings up a selection box so you can specify an area to take a screenshot of, then save it as a file to the desktop
- Command+Shift+4, then spacebar, then click a window: takes a screenshot of a window only and saves it as a file to the desktop
- Command+Control+Shift+3: take a screenshot of the entire screen (screens if multiple monitors), and saves it to the clipboard for pasting elsewhere
- Command+Control+Shift+4, then select an area: takes a screenshot of selection and saves it to the clipboard for pasting elsewhere
- Command+Control+Shift+4, then space, then click a window: takes a screenshot of a window and saves it to the clipboard for pasting
Some of the above instructions are borrowed from our print screen on a Mac article.
Change the screen capture file format
You can change the default file type for screen captures by using a terminal command. Most major image formats are supported including PNG, PDF, GIF, TIFF, and JPG, we’ll go with JPG since that is a common type of web graphic:
defaults write com.apple.screencapture type jpg
Then you must kill the SystemUIServer for changes to take effect:
Take a screenshot from the command line
You can take screenshots from the command line by using the screencapture utility:
screencapture test.jpg The screen capture will then appear in the directory that the command was executed.
If you want to open the screencapture in Preview immediately after being taken, type:
screencapture -P test.jpg
You can also take screenshots silently, without the sound playing with -x:
screencapture -x silentscreenshot.jpg
If you would like to have a delay added to when the screenshot is taken use -T followed by a number of seconds:
screencapture -T 3 delayedpic.jpg
Specifying a file type is easy with the -t flag:
screencapture -t pdf pdfshot.pdf
Naturally you can combine them all together:
screencapture -xt pdf -T 4 pic.jpg
You can get a full list of screencapture flags by typing: