Knowing how to screenshot on your Apple Mac computer is an important skill that can enhance your computer experience.
A screenshot is a photograph of whatever images are displayed on your computer screen. Each screenshot is saved as a .png file on your desktop, titled “Screen Shot Date at Time”.
There are many ways to take a screenshot on a Mac. In this article, we discuss all the ways this action can be accomplished, explaining the pros and cons of each approach. Finally, we end with our thoughts on screenshots and the future of this feature.
How to Screenshot on Mac – The Simplest Way
Learning how to screenshot on your Mac is easy when you start off with the simplest method. This entails pressing the shift button, the command button and the number 3 all at the same time on the keyboard.
This combination automatically produces a .png file that will display a screenshot of your computer screen if opened.
This is a really quick method that is great if you’re taking many screenshots at once.
By employing this method, you are storing a photograph of the entire computer screen, including all overlapping windows and the background of the desktop.
After taking the screenshot, the screenshot will appear on your desktop, allowing you to rename it, store it in a folder, and edit it as you wish.
When you double-click the file, your Mac will display the screenshot through the program Preview. If you want to open the screenshot in a different program, try selecting the “Open With” option after clicking on the photograph. From there, your Mac will give you several programs to choose from depending on what programs you have downloaded on your computer.
Many people who wonder how to screenshot on Mac master this method first because the command is so easy to master. After using this command only several times, your hands will be able to execute it seamlessly. Then you can move on to more complicated ways of taking screenshots.
Many people who screenshot on Mac also edit these screenshots using editing software. The screenshot method just described is ideal for this kind of editing, as it allows users to easily collect many images and then crop them afterward.
The Drawbacks of this Method
The main drawback of this method is that it’s not suitable for capturing screenshots of parts of your screen. While cropping might work for more savvy users, some users don’t want to bother with editing and just want an image to use immediately.
Also, because the screenshot method just described is so easy and requires simply pressing three buttons together, it might be overused or accidentally employed, causing many screenshots to accumulate on your desktop. Over time, this could take up space on your computer.
It’s worth noting that you can change where these screenshots are saved and in what format they are saved. This requires more advanced knowledge of computers and entails interacting with the terminals application on Mac. There are many websites that detail how these alterations can be achieved, such as this one.
How to Screenshot on Mac – the Most Precise Way
Alternatively, you can take a screenshot of a precise area on your screen by pressing the shift button, the command button, and the number 4 all at the same time on the keyboard.
This will turn your pointer into a crosshairs icon. You can then use this crosshairs icon to demarcate an area on the screen for your screenshot.
In order to do this, determine what area on the screen you want captured. Bring the crosshairs into one of the four corners of this area. Then, click once and hold the click, dragging the crosshairs across the screen to cover the area of your desired section. As you drag the crosshairs, parts of the section will become shaded to indicate that they have been selected.
If the area you want to capture is not in the shape of a square, you can always screenshot a slightly larger section and then crop the exact section using editing software afterward. In this sense, just because you use this more precise way of taking a screenshot does not mean that the screenshot has to be perfectly exact. There can be unnecessary space around the perimeter of your subject that needs to be cropped out via editing.
Yet, what makes this method of taking a screenshot popular is that it usually makes editing unnecessary. If editing is required, its usually very minimal and can be done quickly.
The Drawbacks of this Method
The main drawback of this method is that it’s slower and requires more precision. This can make it tedious when trying to accumulate a large number of screenshots, as you must manually set the borders of the screenshot each time.
Furthermore, the command of holding down the click while dragging the crosshairs across the screen can lead to inaccurate cropping. Many users forget that the cropping process begins the moment they click the keypad or mouse. These users click and then let go, resulting in either no image or a very small image. Additionally, after each error, these users have to reinitiate the screenshot command and delete the previous screenshot, which can be a time-consuming process.
It’s worth noting that pressing the escape button at any time exits the screenshot application, allowing you to start over. Thus, if you accidentally initiate the screenshot process, but don’t want to take a screenshot, then you can press the escape button while you are holding down the click. Essentially, you don’t have to take a screenshot just because the application has been initiated.
This more precise method is not ideal for blowing up small sections on your screen. While it can produce a smaller image, these images are usually blurry or full of noise when blown up in size. Thus, they must be usually left at their original ratio to avoid these aesthetic issues. Yet, this can be counterintuitive if you want to make some detail of a small image clear by increasing its size.
In this sense, this method of taking a screenshot on Mac is limited and could be improved by offering an option to produce a screenshot with more pixels.
How to Screenshot on Mac – the Windows Option
Within the more precise option to screenshot, users can press the space bar once the crosshairs icon has come up. This turns the crosshairs into a camera icon.
When you hover this camera icon over a window on your computer screen, it will shade the entire window. If you click the camera icon once, your Mac will produce a screenshot of only that shaded window.
This is extremely convenient if you want to capture a screenshot of a window that is smaller than your entire screen. Instead of having to manually set the borders, you can just press the space bar and then click anywhere in the window.
The main drawback of this method is that it only works on windows from applications. Windows within applications, like images and texts and other pages, are not distinguished. In order to capture these more precise sections of your screen, you will have to use the crosshairs icon and set the borders manually.
Our Final Thoughts on Screenshots
We think that learning how to screenshot on your Mac is a very simple process that requires mastering some basic keyboard commands.
We recommend starting off with the simplest method of just pressing the shift button, command button, and number 3 all at once. This will give you an instant screenshot that will be saved to your desktop.
Even if this photograph needs to be cropped or is unusable, practicing this command will help you master how to screenshot on your Mac. Ultimately, the best screenshot takers are able to execute the command in one fluid motion without looking at the keyboard. This allows them to constantly pay attention to the contents on their screen, which lets them consider future screenshots.
Many beginner screenshot takers must constantly watch the keyboard when they are executing the command, and this ultimately disturbs the flow of their computer experience, which limits their screenshotting potential.
If screenshots become popular enough in the future, computer companies might include a button on the keyboard that takes a screenshot once pressed.
Alternatively, future computer companies could provide users with more control over how certain functions are executed. This ability is already present in some computers, but the screenshot function is rarely allowed this level of customization. If the screenshot function can be controlled, then it rarely can be executed using a single keyboard button. In the future, we think this will be different.
More generally, we think all future keyboards will be completely customizable, allowing users to program whatever commands they want. While this might seem unrealistic, we think it’s just around the corner.