Change the Screen Shot Save File Location in Mac OS X

Jan 26, 2011 - 54 Comments

By default, anytime you take a screen capture in Mac OS X it will save the screenshot file to the current users desktop. You can adjust where Mac OS X saves a captured screenshot to any other location, here is how to do this:

Launch Terminal and use the following syntax:

defaults write location /path/

For example, if I want to have the screenshots appear in my Pictures folder, I would use:

defaults write location ~/Pictures/

To have the changes take effect, you then must type:

killall SystemUIServer

So the next time you take a screenshot (or as Windows converts like to say, Print Screen on a Mac), the screenshot file will appear at the location you specified.

You can change the saved screenshot location back to the default setting by specifying the desktop again:

defaults write location ~/Desktop/

Again, you’d need to kill SystemUIServer for changes to take effect.

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Posted by: Manish Patel in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks


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  1. David says:

    I always wondered if there was a way to do this

  2. Manny C says:

    I just tried it and it worked… But only after I logged out and back in again. Your mileage may vary.

    • wizbang_FL says:

      Works in Mountain Lion as well. Noticed I had to close terminal after the kill command for the change to apply. Either that or there was a few minutes time delay.

  3. This is really great. Cluttering up the Desktop with Screen Shots is really disruptive so changing the location is very helpful. Thank you so much for this tip.

  4. [...] it, you have to do some programming… Here's a link, let me know if you have any questions. Change the Screenshot Save File Location in Mac OS X __________________ Baby, why'd you leave me, why'd you have to go I was counting on forever, [...]

  5. [...] – a nasty habit I can’t seem to kick. I came across the majority of this solution through OS X Daily, although, I did make some minor adjustments to suit my [...]

  6. Very convenient! I added a ‘Screenshots’ folder to the path so that it reads

    defaults write location ~/Pictures/Screenshots/

    Easy! Thanks!

  7. Alex says:

    I’m doing it and it doesn’t work! For some reason the computer is TAKING the shots and NOT saving them on the desktop and I don’t know WHERE it’s saving them or how to find them… very annoying… then I did all this and it doesn’t work for some reason. I’d like to show you snapshots of what I’m doing, but for obvious reasons can’t, haha…

  8. Ouriel Ohayon says:

    does not work on OSX lion. someone managed?

  9. Ouriel Ohayon says:

    ok. copy pasting a comment i found in another forum. to make it work you need to follow this. instructions in the blog above are not enough…

    “You have to change the username (in caps below) and then the following needs to be consistent with the directory you want to use for the screen shots. Your user name is the user name of your computer which can be found by opening finder, click on “Macintosh HD” in the top left, then users and your user name should be the top folder. If you havent named it and you have an air, for example, it will just say “air”
    defaults write location /Users/YOUR USER NAME GOES HERE/Desktop/printscreen/”

  10. Lguystillfly says:

    I have OSX Lion… and worked great for me. Have been wondering how to do this for a while now. Thanks! :)

  11. Bee says:

    I can take snapshots but they don’t appear on the desktop so I wanted to try to change the location so that I could find my snapshots in the future but I can’t find the program Terminal even though I know I had it. Also, my search tool or whatever doesn’t work either. I have the new Macbook with Snow Leopard (I think it is).

  12. Laura says:

    Thanks for the tip, worked great! It was so annoying having them scattered all over the desktop.

  13. Dustin says:

    I have OSX lion, and it also worked great for me too! I’m stoked! Here’s my path with its own screen shots folder. I named the folder: Screen_Shots.

    defaults write location ~/Pictures/Screen_Shots/


  14. [...] than changing file names, you can also change where screen shots save to and change file type to a format other than the PNG [...]

  15. TrueDee says:

    Just what I needed. Thanks!

  16. Alex says:

    If you’re temped to run sudo, don’t. Just run defaults write etc.

    This is great btw. Thanks for the tip.

  17. Donovan Meyers says:

    Fantastic, exactly what I was looking for!

    Here’s what I did, including cleanup:

    mkdir ~/Documents/screenshots
    defaults write location ~/Documents/screenshots
    killall SystemUIServer
    mv ~/Desktop/Screen\ shot* ~/Documents/screenshots/

  18. Pook says:

    Yes, it works, but don’t put in that stupid tilde!

    • Maxwell says:

      The tilde represents the location of your user folder that you’re logged in with.


      is the same as:


  19. Victor says:

    Another way is to use Onyx to do this… It has this feature in the Parameters section under the General tab and you can also change the format from PNG to JPG or a few other options… Just thought I’d mention it…

  20. [...] Change the Default “Save File” Location for Screen Shots in Mac OS X: [...]

  21. Andras says:

    Thanks it helped a lot! Was getting annoyed about missed up desktop!

  22. [...] Part 1 : Set the default screenshots location to a specified folder. (credits to OSXdaily) [...]

  23. ukscoob says:

    Easy to follow even for a n00b.
    Done in under 10 seconds.
    Tested & works.

  24. Liguo Kong says:

    Thanks. This helps a lot.

  25. Barry says:

    Awesome, thanks :)

    What a time saver not having to clean up my desktop all the time ^^

  26. Hollie says:

    Works like a charm! Thanks!
    osx 10.8.2

  27. [...] is to create a new folder in /Pictures/ or ~/Documents/ and then set that to the new default screen shot save location with a defaults write command: defaults write location [...]

  28. Jonah says:

    Awesome! If you’re having trouble with a space in the file path, just leave it blank and drag your folder to the terminal window and OS X auto enters the path for you. Gotta love apple, Thanks for the Terminal codes here!

  29. Thanks for posting this.
    As of 10.8 , there is no need to restart the service.This applies automatically without service restart.

  30. [...] and anything that suggests clouds, boxes or storage. And if you do this, my favorite lifehack? Instead of having my Mac’s screenshots go to the desktop, I have them go to a public Dropbox folder, which allows me to share them on the internet [...]

  31. BK says:

    Thank you, this was great!

  32. *m says:

    Works like a charm! Thanks!

  33. Mag says:

    Brilliant!! Thanks a lot! :-)

  34. KingTetroseWang says:

    Works very well. Tip: If you want to have the location in a folder on your desktop in Mt. Lion, put another / after the folder name to indicate you want it in a folder. E.g. ~/desktop/screenshots/

  35. jamauai says:

    I noticed for Mountain Lion at least, you cannot specify the full path to a directory in your home folder (for example /Users/admin/Downloads/). It will not work. I tried killall SystemUIServer, killall Finder, log out and back in, still nothing. You must use the “~” syntax in order for it to work. Then killall SystemUIServer and it worked perfectly. Just a little FYI.

  36. Chett says:

    Perfect!! Thanks for the help, just made my lesson planning even faster!!!

  37. ilan says:

    It works!!!!!!! thanks !!!!!

  38. Chad Bambrick says:

    I have Mavericks, and it isn’t working; any suggestions (I know that my path is correct because I actually dragged the file into terminal and it automatically added the path)? Also, should I have the “~” before the path or not (its confusing the way it’s written in the instructions.

  39. Rebecca says:

    Thank you! My desktop is a much happier place now. :)

    Works great in Mac OS X Version 10.6.8

    Sorry I don’t know if that’s Mountain Lion or Snow Leopard or Jungle Cat or whatever the fun name is ;)

  40. Wesam Alalem says:

    Thank you, I hate cleaning up Desktop, changing path works better :)

  41. Marcia says:

    Not working for me. The terminal will not save the code. Any code. I paste it in. Close the terminal window, open it back up. GONE!

    • Reado says:

      Read the instructions. You paste the code into the terminal, press ENTER to execute the command. It’s not supposed to be saved in the Terminal for the changes to take effect, it just executes once.

  42. Marcia says:

    BTW, running Mavericks.

  43. hüseyin says:

    nice document, thank you.

  44. herojig says:

    great tip, thx!

  45. beemelle says:

    Awesome tip, works a charm – THANKS!

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