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How To Take A Screenshot On A Mac

mac command keyI’ve been a Mac user since 2006 when my stupid PC crashed in the middle of my Capstone exams (library school week-long final, library school equivalent of the thesis paper). I was done. Every day I see people complaining about viruses. I hear that you can’t get them on Macs, and I’m not knowledgeable enough about the technical side of things to know if that’s true or not. I do know that I haven’t encountered anything in the most recent four years that has shut my computer down. Not once. That’s enough for me. But learning OSX, the Mac’s operating system, had a learning curve for me, even for my rudimentary computer needs.

This is a blog that I hope is usually about questions and answers. Here was my question a week ago: “How do I take a screenshot on a Mac?” Taking a screenshot just means taking a picture of your screen. You can save it as a file or just copy and paste it from the clipboard. As with many things Macintosh in the beginning, the answer was 1) very simple; 2) not intuitive at all. Now that I know it, I won’t forget it, but I wouldn’t have gotten it on my own.

Here are your options, which I found in the MacRumors forum.

  • Press the command (that’s the key with the apple on it) key, the shift key, and the number 3. You’ll hear a camera sound and there will be a file of the image saved on your desktop. If you have a cluttered desktop like mine it might be hard to find, but the file name defaulted to “screenshot.”
  • Command key, shift key, and the number 4 key. Then you can actually define the area of the screen that you want to take a screenshot of. Also saves to the desktop.

If you don’t want to save the files, these two options will send them to the clipboard again, ready for easy pasting:

  • Command, control, shift, and the number 3 – It’s the same but with one additional key and it does not save to the desktop
  • Command, control, shift, and the number 4 – The same as the previous option, but will let you define an area of the screen instead of taking a screenshot of the entire window.

That’s it! It was driving me nuts and I never would have figured it out on my own. The MacForums are a great resource. I won’t be doing many tech-related posts because I’m a tech idiot, but this was on my mind.


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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Todd@Phitzone December 16, 2010, 7:38 am

    You forgot one. Whip out your handy dandy iphone, and snap a picture of that bitch. Then upload it back up to your mac, and viola, you just did a screenshot of your mac. 🙂

  • Jodi Kaplan December 16, 2010, 8:56 am

    Use the built-in Grab app. You can a pic of the whole screen, a window, or just part of a window. Just open the app and the one you want from the “capture” menu. Then drag or click (as appropriate) and save.

  • Blaine Moore December 16, 2010, 3:11 pm

    I got in on the beta for Snag-It, which is what I use on Windows, and I much prefer that to the standard screen capture apps. It costs a little (which was the advantage of being in the beta), but lets you do some quick edits in place such as adding callouts, annotations, or doing crops and such.

  • Mark Barber December 16, 2010, 4:48 pm

    Don’t forget, after you press the Command-Shift-4 or the Command-Control-Shift-4, you can hit the space bar. This will give you a camera icon that will intelligently snap windows or other regions such as open menus. Enjoy!

  • Michael Stagg | Stagg Solutions December 16, 2010, 8:59 pm

    Hey Josh! You are absolutely right! A lot of the stuff on a make is simple to use but you have to go hunting for the solution. When I got my make last year I came across this site: http://www.myfirstmac.com. It’s been like my Mac Bible. I hope you find it useful too. 🙂

  • Jodi Kaplan December 17, 2010, 8:02 am

    Forgot to add, you can also go to a finder window and the help tab (or press ⌘? to open the help viewer). Type in what you’re looking for and get instructions.

    Oh, and if you’re in Firefox, the same key combination opens Firefox help.