Change the Default Screen Shot File Name in Mac OS X

Feb 16, 2012 - 9 Comments

Change Screen Shot File Name in Mac OS X

Screen shots taken in Mac OS X save to files prefixed with “Screen Shot” in the file name, but the names of screenshots can be changed to anything else. We’ll use a defaults write command to adjust the naming convention of screen shots taken on the Mac. This can be helpful for many purposes, and it’s easy to do and undo back to default if need be.

How to Change File Name of Screen Shots on Mac

This will allow you to choose a new different name for default screen shots created on a Mac, from “Screen Shot (date)” to “Custom Name (date)”, or whatever you’d like to use:

  1. Launch the Terminal (found in /Applications/Utilities) and type the following command, replacing “OSXDaily” with the file name you wish to use for your screen shot names
  2. defaults write name "OSXDaily"

  3. Now restart SystemUIServer by killing it from the command line:
  4. killall SystemUIServer

  5. Take a screen shot to confirm the file name has been changed from default to the custom name

Only new screen shots will be effected by this change, existing screenshot file names will remain the same.

Once the change has taken effect, all new screenshots will adopt the new name, and additional captures will be sequenced just as before so they don’t overwrite one another. For example. “Screen Shot”, “Screen Shot (2)”, “Screen Shot (3)”, etc, of course conforming to the naming convention you chose.

This will not adjust the suffix of the file, which is dependent on the image format of the screenshot itself. The default is PNG, but users can change the file format of screen shots in Mac OS X to JPEG, TIFF, PNG, or GIF if desired.

Return to Default Screen Shot File Names in Mac OS X

If you want to restore to the default naming convention of screen shot files created in Mac OS X, use the instructions below:

  • Open the Terminal in Mac OS X if you haven’t done so already, then type the following command
  • defaults write name "Screen Shot"

  • Again restart SystemUIServer by killing it
  • killall SystemUIServer

  • Confirm the file names have returned to the default by printing a screen shot to the Mac OS X desktop with Command+Shift+3

Other than changing file names, you can also change where screen shots save to on the Mac, which can help to organize things a bit, and users can also change file type to a format other than the PNG default as well.

This changes the screen shot file names that are created automatically, of course you can rename the screen shots after the fact at any time if you want.

And yes, this method works to change screenshot file names in all versions of Mac OS X system software, from El Capitan, Yosemite, Mountain Lion, Mavericks, and Snow Leopard, and beyond.

Thanks to MacTrast for the tip.

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


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  1. Thalles says:

    In the line…..

    killall SytemUIServer

    should be

    killall SystemUIServer


  2. KKDK says:

    I would rather use this
    $ps -ef | grep [S]ystemUI | awk ‘{print $2}’
    $kill -HUP #PID fetched from above command#

  3. Stephen Strum says:

    The tip is well intentioned but really does not solve the issue of hte long filename that comes after “screen shot” or “OSXDaily”. In other words, you still have OSXDaily 2012-02-16 at 8.22.AM.jpg or whatever file format you have chosen.

    A tip that would change the entire filename would be great.

    Also, Onyx allows you easily to make a change in image format (jpeg vs png vs other), whether you would like a shadow or not, the location and the first part of the filename as well. The area for these selections is in Parameters menu item in Onyx.

  4. I agree with Stephen, it would be great to chance the entire naming convention. I would most prefer a different way to write the date, namely YYYYMMDD.HHmm.

    I would make it: perezfox_screen_20120216.1155.png, for example.

  5. IamAziz says:

    You don’t have to use:
    killall SystemUIServer

    The command takes affect right away.

  6. Peter says:

    To reset this to the default, you should actually use:

    defaults delete name

    The default (when you delete the custom value) is region-specific and changes depending on the language you use for your computer.

    FYI you do need to kill the SystemUIServer on Mavericks.

  7. rjm says:

    Help… How can I change the default screenshot name, to whatever I have written on Preview search tool at the time of the screenshot. As a function on terminal or as a script. Thanks in advance

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