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If you need to take a screenshot on a Mac, you might be searching for a “Print Screen” button like on some keyboards.

But taking a screenshot on an Apple computer is a little bit different than taking a screenshot on a Windows machine.

On Windows PC, all you need to do is press the “PrtScr” or “Print Screen” key on your keyboard. After you press that key, Windows OS will automatically take a screenshot of your screen as a full-size, and save it to the clipboard.

In order to export or save this screenshot into an image file, you will need assistance from a picture editor program such as Microsoft Paint or Photoshop. Just paste the content from the clipboard to the Paint program (or press Ctrl + V) and the save it as a new image file.

But how do you take a screenshot on a Mac? This page will walk you through 3 keyboard shortcuts that will take different types of screenshots on your Mac.


Print Screen Options on Mac

On Mac OS X, there are more advanced print screen features. In fact, there are three methods you can use to take a screenshot of your Mac:

You can use any methods to capture a screenshot and save it to your desktop without the use of a photo editor (unlike on a PC).

There are three key combinations you can follow up to do a print screen on a Mac computer to take a screenshot. Each keystroke has its job, to take a full-screen screenshot, a part of the screen or a screenshot of a particular application, depending on which key combination you use.


Take A Screenshot Of The Full Screen

If you want to take screenshots of your entire screen, use this shortcut:

Command + Shift + 3

Print Screen Mac

Do a print screen on Mac OS X computer with a simple shortcut.

When you press Command + Shift + 3, your Mac computer with take a screenshot of your whole screen and save it to your desktop.

If you are using more than one monitor, this shortcut will take a larger image file, which includes all connected monitors.


Take a Screenshot of Just Part of Your Screen

If you only want to take a screenshot of a small portion of the screen, use this keystroke:

Command + Shift + 4

How to Print Screen on Mac

When you press these keys on your keyboard, a selection box will show up, and allow you to choose a particular area of your Mac screen to capture. Then, it automatically saves it as a picture file to the desktop of your Mac.

So, here are the complete instructions to take a Mac screenshot of a selected area::

  1. Hit Command + Shift + 4 and then your mouse cursor will change to a crosshair pointer.
  2. Move your crosshair pointer to the position that you want to capture the screenshot.
  3. Drag to choose an area and then release the mouse button. The screenshot will automatically be captured.

While you are dragging the crosshair pointer, you also can hold Shift, Option, or Space to change the way you choose the part of your screen to take a screenshot.

If you have selected a part of your Mac screen, but you change your mind and want to choose another area, just press Esc to cancel.


Take A Screenshot Of A Specific Window

To take a screenshot of a particular application on your Mac OS X computer, just follow these instructions:

  1. Press these keys at the same time: Command + Shift + 4.
  2. After pressing these keys, the Mac’s cursor will change to “+“.
  3. Next step, press Spacebar (or Space key), the cursor will turn itself into a camera icon.
  4. Just move the camera icon and then click on the application you want to take the screenshot.

Finding a Screenshot File

For all of the above methods, the image file will automatically save to your Mac’s desktop as PNG file (as opposed to a JPG), with a name like “Screen Shot xx-xx-xx“. These “xx-xx-xx” digits were generated automatically according to the date and time when the screenshot was created.

How to print screen on a Mac

List of screenshot files, which generated by Print Screen Mac function.

If you don’t want to clutter your desktop or Finder, you can change the default location where screenshots are saved using the Mac command terminal.

If you are running a newer operating system, like Mojave, the functions are a little more advanced, but the basic keystrokes are the same.

Looking for some additional functionality? Here are five best screen capture apps to help you take more advanced screen grabs on your Mac. Try these apps, and maybe you will like to use them more than using keystrokes.

Show Comments

39 Replies to “How to Screenshot On Mac [3 Different Ways]”

  1. Tony Tran says:

    Visitor Rating: 5 Stars

  2. Anonymous says:

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  4. Lin says:

    It is a great guide to know how to take screenshots on a Mac, especially how to take screenshots of a specific window.

  5. Anonymous says:

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  10. Kim says:

    Is there any way to take a timed screenshot? I would like to take a screenshot on a Mac with a few seconds of delay.

    1. jeffcard says:

      You might try acethinker screen grabber, it’s a freeware that can help you take a time screeshot.

  11. Anonymous says:

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  14. Linda says:

    The Shift + Command + 4 keystroke is a great method to take screenshots in Mac. I always use it when I need to capture a screenshot of my Mac screen.

    1. Kim says:

      The Shift + Command + 4 -> Spacebar is also a good keystroke to take a screenshot of a specific application window.

      You should also try it.

  15. Anonymous says:

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  18. Karik says:

    I’ve followed up these methods and they are very helpful. My favorite method to take a screenshot is Command,Shift,4 as it is easy to use and flexible. I can choose any parts of my screen and the screenshot will be taken.

    So great, right?

    What do you think?

    1. Tony Tran says:

      I’m glad that it’s helpful for you. You can also use Command + Shift + 4 + Space to take a screenshot of a particular application.

      Try it!

      1. Karik says:

        Is there any method to capture a screenshot of the right context menu? It always hide itself when pressing any key.

        1. Tony Tran says:

          You can use Grab application to take a timed screenshot. In order to open this app, press Command+Space and then search for “Grab” to open it.

  19. Anonymous says:

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  22. Atish Ranjan says:

    Hello Tony,

    PrtScr is a great button, it helps a lot. Since I am a windows user ever since I started using computers, I am aware of it. But, I am glad I learned to use it on Mac OS x. It will be a great help when I will use Mac.

    Thanks for sharing mate.

  23. Anonymous says:

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  26. Karen K says:

    Do you know app that I can use to take screenshots in Mac?

    1. Peter says:

      You can use Grab to take screenshots. To open it, press Cmd+Space to open the Spotlight. Then enter “Grab” to find and open it.

  27. Anonymous says:

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  32. Donna Wayne says:

    Very nice and helpful. I think these built-in options work a bit easier on Windows OS as you can see here: http:\\www.paintshoppro.com/en/pages/screenshot/ but Mac also provided a pretty nice shortcut. The only bad thing is the quality of the shots on both OS in my opinion, they could be a bit more clear, but that’s why there are the new software that provide it 🙂

  33. Ian Inrig says:

    This is probably the worst presented information of any and all Apple instructions. Yes, it tells me what I need to do to make a screen shot of a whole screen or a partial screen but once I have done that I am left in Zulu-land. I don’t know where the created screen shots are or how to find them Then I can’t find how to print them. Surely all the technological wizardry at Apple can do better than this.

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