How to Screenshot on Mac – The Ultimate Guide

As you know I am not an “Apple Person.” I don’t own an iPhone, an iPad or a Mac of any description. However, for some reason, a question that I am constantly asked is “How to Screenshot on Mac”.  I can’t answer that, however, James Dorian can. Here is what you need to know:

The macOS makes that easy. But those who are new to the system don’t necessarily know how to screenshot on Mac. It takes just a few keys and commands, but it’s a hard thing to do when you don’t have proper instructions. 

Let’s explain, shall we?

Why Is Taking Screenshots on Mac Such an Issue?

Since Macs have a reputation of being highly intuitive, it’s strange to see users asking all the time: “How do I screenshot on Mac?” Before Mojave, it wasn’t that easy. You had to use QuickTime player to record the screen, and different keyboard commands to screenshot small sections and bigger windows. 

Mojave simplified things a bit, and screenshotting on Catalina remained the same. The old commands still work, but the new ones give you a more sophisticated way to print screen on Mac. 

Easy Tips: How to Screenshot on Mac 

  • The Basics: Old Commands for Taking a Screenshot on Mac

If you’re using a pre-Mojave operating system, then this is the only way to take screenshots on Mac. However, the commands work on Mojave and Catalina as well, so you might find it useful:

  • Command + Shift + 3 

With this command, you’re taking a full print screen on Mac. It snaps everything you see on the screen. If you use multiple screens, it will capture everything.  

  • Command + Shift + 4

With this command, you get to choose whether you want to capture the entire screen or a selection of it. It allows you to snap a particular window that you’re using. If your MacBook Pro has a touch bar, you’ll get your options thereafter giving this command. You also get to choose where you want to save the screenshot you just chose. 

Here’s how that looks on the touch bar:

How to take screenshot on a mac

The “Command + Shift + 5” Way

If you’re on Mojave or Catalina, this is the command you’ll want to use. It’s a more sophisticated way of taking screenshots, since it lets you snap different sections of the screen. 

If you press Command + Shift + 5 on the keyboard, you’ll get a menu that lets you do a few things:

  • Snap the entire screen
  • Capture a specific window
  • Capture a specific portion of the screen
  • Record a video of the screen
  • Record a specific portion of the screen

Now we’re getting to the real functionality of macOS. With a simple command, you can do different things. If you use this command to take a screenshot on Mac with a touch bar, here’s what you see on it:

How to take screenshot on a mac 2

You’ll see the same icons on the screen. They allow you to do all the things listed above.  

The first icon is for capturing the entire screen. The second one is for a selected window, and the third one is for a selected portion of a window. The next two icons are different; one is for recording an entire screen, and the other one is for recording a selected portion. Then you get to choose where you want to save this print screen on Mac.

  • Capture a Shot of the Touch Bar

If you’re using a MacBook Pro with a touch bar and you’re giving instructions that involve it, this is the command to use when you want to capture it:

  • Command + Shift + 6

Now; many people don’t like the touch bar. They have it, but they don’t use it and they would prefer function buttons instead. This simple command shows that it’s actually useful. Instead of working with the options on the screen, you immediately tap an icon and your MacBook will do what it’s supposed to do. 

  • Using an App for Taking Screenshots on Mac 

MacOS makes it easy, right? You always press command, shift, and a number to take a screenshot on Mac. 

However, when your work with a team involves taking multiple screenshots per day, you may appreciate the functionality of a dedicated app. Maybe you don’t like memorizing too many keyboard commands. But maybe you also want more options than the basic ones that your Mac integrates. 

There are few apps that let you take and edit a screenshot on Mac. These are only two options:

  • Capto – It’s great for guiding your team through the process of using software. It lets you add captions to the video, so you don’t have to speak if you don’t want to.
  • CleanShot – It will snap the exact part of the screen you want, without allowing the recipient of the screenshot to see something they shouldn’t. You can blur parts of the shot and hide desktop icons. You can also record a video with this app. 

Let’s not forget browser extensions. If you use Chrome and you want to take screenshots from web pages, the easiest way to do it is through an extension like Awesome Screenshot. You just click the icon and you snap any part of the web page you need to share with others or include in a blog post. 

Keep Those Screenshots Organized

If you’re taking screenshots with a browser extension, they will end up in your Downloads folder. Take them with the keyboard commands mentioned above, you’ll get them on the Desktop or in the Downloads. If you take them with a third-party app, you’ll choose a folder where you want them. 

When you don’t pay attention to proper organization, you end up with files all over the place. That’s a nice way to congest your Mac over a longer period of time. Plus, these files will have long, confusing names that include the date but don’t tell you what the screenshot is of. 

If your computer already has too many screenshots on it, take the time to clean it up. You can locate them all with Finder. Get rid of the ones you don’t need. Then, name the ones you want to keep and place them in appropriate folders. You can use private Pinterest boards if you don’t want them to take space on your computer. You’ll name the boards, keep them private, and access the exact right screenshot when you need it. 

See? That Wasn’t So Difficult!

Your first Mac can be confusing. You’ve worked with Windows computers so far, and you were used to the Print Screen button on the keyboard. Your Mac’s keyboard doesn’t have that button so you’re lost. The good news is that it’s just as easy to print screen on Mac. Now that you know the commands, you can start experimenting.


James Dorian is a technical copywriter. He is a tech geek who knows a lot about modern apps that will make your work more productive. James reads tons of online blogs on technology, business, and ways to become a real pro in our modern world of innovations.

One comment

  1. for some reason my IMac (new this summer, with Mojave) puts my screen shots in Mail. How do I change that back to saving it as a png file on my desktop?

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