Take a Timed Screen Shot in Mac OS X

May 1, 2011 - 12 Comments

Timed Screen Shot in Mac OS X

You can take time delayed screenshots in Mac OS X by using the Grab utility or the Terminal. Grab and Terminal are bundled with every Mac in your /Applications/Utilities/ directory, find them there or launch it with Spotlight (Command+Space). We’ll cover Grab first because it’s more user friendly and doesn’t involve the command line.

Timed Screen Shots with Grab

Once you’re in Grab: Pull down the “Capture” menu and select “Timed Screen” or hit Command+Shift+Z to bring up the timed capture alert dialog that you see in the screenshot above. When you’re ready, click on “Start Timer” and you’ll have 10 seconds to stage your screenshot before Grab snaps the entire screen.

Timed screen shot in Mac OS  X

You’ll notice Grab won’t be visible in the screenshot, which is nice otherwise the app would be kind of useless.

Time Delayed Screen Shots via Terminal

If you’re inclined to travel the more technical road, you can also take time delayed screen shots from the Terminal using the screencapture command:

screencapture -T 10 osxdaily.jpg

You can adjust the time to anything in seconds, that example is for a 10 second delay. The filename follows, which will be created in your users home directory unless you specify otherwise. You can see some more screencapture options here.

You’ll notice I say screen shot, but those coming to the Mac from Windows often refer to this process as “Print Screen” thanks to the little button on their old PC keyboards. Unless you time the pressing of that button, timed screenshots are a feature of Mac OS X only. Also you might notice in that screenshot that I’m hiding my Mac OS X menu bar, this is achieved through a 3rd party utility called MenuEclipse.

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Posted by: William Pearson in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Ian says:

    I guess I don’t see the purpose of this when you can just hit Command+Shift+3 and take a screenshot at any time in any situation.

  2. Alberto says:

    I agree with Ian.
    I never use Grab – And I don’t see the utility of a timer, but probably there are some (?)

    Command+Shift+3 > Full Screen
    Command+Shift+ 4 > Select what you want dragging a rectangle around
    Command+Shift+3 – and then space bar > click on the window of which you want a screenshot……

    • mauro says:

      Alberto, of course there is a need for a timer:
      Sometimes you need to take a snapshot of a pull down menu… there is no other way…

  3. Alberto says:

    Sorry, it is:

    Command+Shift+4 – and then space bar > click on the window of which you want a screenshot……

  4. Truck says:

    Just because you personally don’t use it, doesn’t mean a delayed snapshot isn’t useful. Control your digital narcissism!

  5. […] a Screenshot on a Timer One of the better features of the Grab utility is that it lets you take screenshots on a timer, so you can setup an app or situation on the screen and capture things like alert boxes, menus, […]

  6. […] timed screen shot feature was previously limited to the Terminal or Grab, but it’s pretty handy to have directly in […]

  7. […] approach is to take a timed screen shot using Grab or the command line, but the “test” method is usually […]

  8. […] that you have selected a cursor, your best bet is to take a timed screen shot, which can be done through the Grab applications ‘Capture’ menu. Voila, your new screen […]

  9. Jesus F. Christ says:

    A timed screenshot was useful while I wanted to capture the event of Drag-and-Drop in the state of dragging.

  10. […] the Grab app found in /Applications/Utilities/ and you can take screen captures on a timer, letting you screenshot things that would otherwise be impossible, like some menu pulldowns, system […]

  11. XCool says:

    Both are useful in the instance where I needed to capture things like the app switcher menu which is not possible unless it’s timed.

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