How to Take Screenshots With Your Mac

Mac screenshots

You’ve got your new Mac, and want to take a screenshot. Where’d that Print Screen key go? Things work a bit differently on the Mac. You could go with a third party solution, such as Skitch or Littlesnapper. Or, you could use your Mac’s built in ability to take screenshots. There are three different ways to take a screenshot on your Mac, by holding down key combinations. All screenshots go to your desktop by default.



This takes a screenshot of your entire screen. In fact, it is instantaneous, so you might not even know it worked.




Your cursor changes to crosshairs, and you can then take a screenshot of whatever area you select.




Your cursor changes to a camera, and you can then take a screenshot of the dock, the menu bar, a single open menu, the desktop, or any open window. Whatever you hover over will become the target of the screenshot, and turn blue.


That’s all there is to it. If you’d rather have a screenshot go to your clipboard instead of to the desktop, then add the CONTROL key to each of the above methods. So, for example, COMMAND-CONTROL-SHIFT-4 will let you select an area of the screen to send to your clipboard.

If you’d prefer a free app that comes with your Mac, you can also try out Grab, which is located in your Applications/Utilities folder.

What’s your favorite method for taking a screenshot on your Mac?

Evan Kline

Hello, I'm Evan. I write about tech from my perspective – that of the average 40-something tech geek. You can also find me on Twitter and at my real-life job as a lawyer.    MORE ABOUT ME.


  1. “This takes a screenshot of your entire screen. In fact, it is instantaneous, so you might not even know it worked.”

    If you have the volume turned up, you’ll hear the “camera” click.

  2. Heh, this will be great for my cousin…who always asks about this at random times but I can never tell him because I don’t use Macs very much. I plan to soon, though.

  3. Great tips for those new to Macs!

  4. Thanks. You pretty much summarized it well.

  5. Thanks for the summary. It seems that every time I need a screenshot, I have forgotten the instructions. However, I wasn’t aware of the Grab application so I appreciate you bringing that to my attention. (Of course, it only works in Mac OS 10.4, so I now realize it won’t work on my older laptop that I use occasionally.)

  6. Remember that there are some differences when taking screenshots on a mac running Leopard OS or older.

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