Let’s say you’re browsing your social media feed when you notice something so exciting you just have to share it with your friends. Your fingers hover over your keyboard, but then you pause and think, “Wait, how do I take a screenshot on a Mac again?”

If you think that’s a silly question and chuckled a little inside, don’t worry – you’re not the only one. In fact, it’s apparently one of the most searched queries across the major search engines.

What’s the big deal about screenshots?

In this day and age where everything is practically one click away, screenshots are a powerful tool to share content with just about anyone.

For example:
– You want to share a funny meme that literally has you rolling on the floor laughing? Check.
– You want to share an inspiring quote with your followers to spread the positive vibes around? Check.
– You want to save a series of instructions, but you’re too busy (or lazy, let’s be honest here…) to type them out? Check.
– You want to save a crucial time-stamped conversation that can make or break someone’s career, reputation, relationship, (alright… that probably escalated a little too quickly, but you get the idea. *winks)? Check.

Whatever your intentions may be, the screenshot is your friend (or, in some cases, your enemy).

So, how do I take a screenshot again?

 (Our apologies for getting sidetracked) Now back to the focus of this article: how to take a screenshot on your Mac.

There are actually many ways to do this so choose what kind of screenshot you want to take first. You can choose between taking a screenshot of your entire screen, a designated section, your current window, or a selected menu.

Take a Screenshot of Your Entire Screen

  1. Press Shift-Command (⌘) – 3 on your Mac keyboard.
  2. The screenshot will automatically be saved on your desktop as a PNG file.

Take a Screenshot of a Selected Portion of Your Screen

  1. Press Shift-Command (⌘) – 4 on your Mac keyboard. Doing this will change the pointer to a crosshair.
  2. Drag the edges of the crosshair to specify which areas you want to include in the screenshot.
  3. You can also hold “SHIFT, “OPTION,” or the spacebar to change the way the selection moves.
  4. Once you’re done, release your mouse or trackpad button.
  5. If you change your mind and want to change the selected area, just press the ESC key before you release the button.
  6. The screenshot will automatically be saved on your desktop as a PNG file.

Take a Screenshot of Your Current Window

  1. Press Shift-Command (⌘) – 4. Doing this will change the pointer to a crosshair.
  2. Press the spacebar and wait for the pointer to change into a camera icon.
  3. Move the camera icon and highlight the window that you want to share.
  4. Click your mouse or trackpad.
  5. If you change your mind and you want to change the selected window, just press the ESC key before you click.
  6. The screenshot will automatically be saved on your desktop as a PNG file.

*This works with windows in the Finder and most applications. 

Take a Screenshot of a Menu 

  1. Open the menu that you want to take a screenshot of to show the contents.
  2. Press Shift-Command (⌘) – 4 on your Mac keyboard and wait for the pointer to change to a crosshair.
  3. Drag the edges of the crosshair to select the menu.
  4. Once you’re done, release your mouse or trackpad button.
  5. If you want to cancel the selection, just press the ESC key before you release the button.
  6. The screenshot will automatically be saved on your desktop as a PNG file.

If you wish to take a screenshot of the menu but not its title, you can follow these steps instead:

  1. Open the menu that you want to take a screenshot of to show the contents.
  2. Press Shift-Command (⌘) – 4 on your Mac keyboard and wait for the pointer to change into a crosshair.
  3. Press the spacebar and wait for the pointer to change into a camera icon.
  4. Highlight the menu.
  5. Click your mouse or trackpad.
  6. If you changed your mind and you want to cancel the selection, just press the ESC key before you click.
  7. The screenshot will automatically be saved on your desktop as a PNG file.

Take a screenshot of the Touch Bar

  1. Press Shift-Command (⌘) – 6 on your Mac keyboard.
  2. The screenshot will automatically be saved on your desktop as a PNG file.
  3. If you want, you can also make a custom screenshot button by changing the Control Strip of your Touch Bar.
  4. To change the Control Strip, tap the screenshot button to see the different screenshot options and their default save location. You can also use it to specify a different or more convenient destination of your choice. 

*This works if you have a Mac with a Touch Bar and macOS Sierra version 10.12.2 or later.

Notes:

  1. All screenshots are automatically saved as PNG files on your desktop in Mac OS X version 10.6 onwards.
  2. Screenshots are automatically named as “screenshot”+ date + time.png.
  3. If you wish to save your screenshots to the Clipboard instead of your desktop, just add “Control” to the key combinations provided above. For example, press Control-Shift-Command (⌘) – 3 instead of simply pressing Shift-Command (⌘) – 3.
  4. If you want to view your screenshots, you can open it with Preview, Safari, or other image editing applications.
  5. Do note that some apps, like the DVD Player, might not let you take screenshots of their windows.