How To Capture Screenshots on Mac [Guide]


I’m a Mac user for almost a year now, and while I’ve become quite competent with the new OS (after having used Windows for all of my computing life before), one thing always seemed to baffle me: how to take screenshots in Mac.

Now, on Windows PCs, the keyboard has a certain key called “Print Scrn” that, when pressed, takes a screenshot of the entire screen; you then have the option of pasting that captured image into an image editing app like PhotoShop or The GIMP (my editing app of choice), and then editing out whatever you want.

Now, you may be wondering, “why would I want to capture the screen of my Mac?” Well, for starters, if you’re a software developer, you may want to showcase what your app looks like to prospective customers. And, a more common example is taking screen grabs of problems arising from software, to mail to the support team that can then assist them in trying to fix any problems with an app.

However, on a Mac, there isn’t a keyboard key for this. So, after some research, I present to you some great tips to capture the screen of your Mac, without having to download any additional software. Yip, all the stuff you need is already on your Mac!

Using Mac OS X’s “Grab” Application

Your Mac comes with an application called Grab. You can find it in Applications -> Grab (or just search for “Grab” in Spotlight).

Grab allows you to do all your screen capturing, by giving you the option of either capturing the entire screen, or just the currently selected window.

  • Capturing the Entire Screen: To take a snapshot of everything (including the Dock), choose Capture -> Screen from the menu. When the Screen Grab window appears, just click anywhere in the screen, and voilá, a new window appears with the captured screen. You can then save it by going to the File menu, and choosing Save As…
  • Capturing a Selected Window: Taking a screen grab of a single window is just as easy: go to Capture -> Window. Select “Choose Window”. However, there is a little trick you need to do here. After the Screen Grab dialog appears, press and hold the shortcut Cmd + TAB to bring up the Application Switcher menu. Then, select the app you want to grab the screen from, and when that window pops up, click it. There you have the screenshot of the single window, without having to go and edit an image of the whole desktop just to get a single window!
  • Capturing Selection: You can also capture a portion of the screen by selecting Capture -> Selection. Then, simply drag around the part of the screen you wish to capture.

Mac OS X Snow Leopard also has the option to capture video screenshots, allowing you to create software tutorials and other cool tutorials on your Mac. To do this you will need to go into the new QuickTime and select the “Screen Record” option. However, this is beyond the scope of this tutorial.

There you have it! A simple way to capture screenshots on Mac, without having to go out and buy/download any additional software. Hope this helps!

  • imre

    After obtaining the grab, I save to Iphoto as the submenu gives me that choice. I am unable to find the grab in iphoto. What goes?

    • http://bytelounge.blogspot.com/ Rahul Dowlath

      Hmmm… I’m not sure what’s up with that, but let me tell you what I do: instead of saving the screen shot to iPhoto, I save it to my Desktop (via Save As… function). From there, you can import it into whatever album you want in iPhoto, embed it in a website, or upload it to a cloud service on the net… Hope that helps!

  • http://bytelounge.blogspot.com/ Rahul Dowlath

    Thanks for that tip, Claude! That’s a really easy way to quickly get a screenshot.

  • Claude

    I use Shift –> Command –> 3()full screen) or 4(Selection).
    It save automatically the screen shot in pdf on the desktop

    • http://blogote.com Rockstar Sid

      Awesome!

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