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How to Take a Screenshot on a Mac – Keyboard Shortcuts and Apps

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Taking a screenshot on your Mac is a great way to show someone exactly what you’re seeing on your screen, or to be able to remember something for later.

Keyboard Shortcuts for taking a screenshot

There are two ways to use your keyboard to quickly take a screenshot – both can be useful, depending on what you’re trying to capture.

A partial screenshot: If you just want to capture a portion of your screen, you can press the ⌘⇧4 (command-shift-4) keys at the same time. This allows you to select a specific part of the screen to capture, leaving out everything else. This is a great way to share what you’re seeing without also including personal information that you’d rather leave out.

A full screenshot: If you’d prefer to capture the entire screen exactly as you see it on your Mac, just press the ⌘⇧3 (command-shift-3) keys at the same time.

I’ve taken a screenshot using one of the above methods, but where did it go?

After you take a screenshot, it will automatically appear on your Desktop.

You can also access the files that are on your Desktop by launching Finder, then selecting the “Desktop” folder on the side panel of the window.

Note: The file name will start with the words “Screen Shot” and will be followed by a date and time stamp.

What if I want to take a screenshot of the current window I am in and nothing else?

Hold down the ⌘⇧4 (command-shift-4) keys like you would to select only a portion of the screen. But instead of dragging your cursor to draw an outline around the window, you can just place your cursor over the window that you want to screenshot and then press the spacebar key – you’ll see the whole window highlighted. Now you can click the window and your screenshot will be taken. Easy, right? You can also use this method to take a screenshot of a drop-down menu (although it won’t work for an in-app contextual menu).  

Using apps to take screenshots

While your Mac’s built-in screenshot functionality works well and is fairly powerful, third-party tools for taking screenshots offer more options for customizing and editing your screenshots.

Skitch is a free screenshot tool that offers you the flexibility to take screenshots, annotate them, crop them, and share them with others.

When you download, install and launch Skitch for the first time, you’ll see this menu on the screen:

You can see that in the drop-down menu there are options you can start with:

  • Full-screen screenshot
  • Screen snap – select part of the screen
  • Timed screen snap – set a timer for when the screenshot will be taken
  • Camera – take a picture of yourself
  • Open an image or PDF already taken to edit it in Skitch
  • Blank – start with a blank canvas

Let’s take a look at the full screen snapshot feature…

You’ll see a variety of tools to edit your screenshot in the sidebar on the left.

  • The arrow allows us to point to something we want others to see in the screenshot
  • The “a” allows us to add a block of text to the screenshot
  • The square allows us to add a shape to our screenshot, which can be used to outline text
  • The marker allows us draw on our screenshot for more annotating options
  • The “x” icon allows us to add priority stamps to the screenshot such as a “!” point
  • The “blur” icons allows us to blur out information that we don’t want others to see
  • The “crop” icon allows us to cut out parts of the screenshot that we don’t want there
  • The “color palette” allows us to change the color of objects we have placed on our screenshot
  • The “circle with a line through it” allows you to edit the size of images placed on your screenshot

SnapNDrag is a super simple but powerful screenshot utility. It takes care of organizing your screenshots for you so that they don’t clutter up your Desktop. You can use SnapNDrag to annotate, organize, and share your screenshots.

After downloading, installing and launching the app, you’ll see a blank window. You can take a screenshot by choosing the following options:

  • Screen – takes a screenshot of the whole screen
  • Window – takes a screenshot of only the window you want and nothing else
  • Selection – lets you choose a portion of the screen and take a partial screenshot

SnapNDrag has a lot of useful features if we dive into the app a bit more. When you select a screenshot that you’ve taken with one of the above options, it gives you the ability to do some awesome editing and annotating to the screenshot right away:

  • Edit the name of the screenshot
  • View the size of the screenshot
  • Change the file type
  • Add a border
  • Change the size

You can also right-click on the screenshot and get access to more options such as:

  • Annotate
  • Show the screenshot in Finder
  • Take a quick look at the screenshot
  • Open the screenshot in a floating window
  • Copy the screenshot
  • Rename the screenshot
  • Make a duplicate of the screenshot
  • Delete the screenshot

How to capture an image of Touch Bar

If you have a new MacBook Pro, you can take a picture of your touch bar – and it’s easy to do! To take a screenshot of your touch bar, just press the ⌘⇧6 (command-shift-6) keys and it’ll be saved to your Desktop.


Knowing how to take a screenshot can make it easy to share important information with others, and can even let you annotate, edit, crop and blur specific parts of your captured screen to  highlight or hide certain parts. Once you know how to take a screenshot on your Mac, you’ll find yourself using this feature frequently!

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