Take a screenshot on Mac: 4 easy ways to do it

If you own a modern Mac – including MacBook laptops, iMac all in ones or Mac Mini and Mac Studio desktops – there are three basic ways to take a screenshot using keyboard shortcuts. MacBook Pro owners can use the Touch Bar for a fourth method. Apple’s macOS software also gives you a whole range of options to easily save, delete and open the screenshot for tagging.

These tips also apply to the latest Macs, e.g. B. the recently updated ones 13-inch MacBook Pro with new M2 chip and the M2 MacBook Air. We also tested these tips to confirm they work macOS Venturathe latest operating system update.

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How to take Mac screenshots


Method 1: Cmd-Shift-3

This key combination captures a screenshot of your entire screen.

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Method 2: Cmd-Shift-4

Use this keyboard shortcut to turn your cursor into a crosshair that you can drag to select a part of your screen to capture. Release the mouse button or trackpad to take the recording.

You have a number of other options after pressing Cmd-Shift-4:

Press and release the spacebar: The crosshair turns into a small camera icon that you can move over any open window. Click on the desired window to take a screenshot of it. A screenshot taken using this method will have a white border around the window with a slight drop shadow.

Hold down the spacebar (after dragging to highlight an area, but before releasing the mouse button or trackpad): This locks the shape and size of the selection area, but lets you reposition it on the screen. It’s very handy if your original selection area is a few pixels off; Just hold down the spacebar to reposition it before releasing the mouse button to take a screenshot.

Hold down the Shift key (after dragging to highlight an area but before releasing the mouse button or trackpad): This locks every side of the selection area created with the crosshair except the bottom edge, so you move your mouse up or down can to position the bottom edge.

Without releasing the mouse button, release Shift and press it again to reposition the right edge of your selection area. You can toggle between moving the bottom edge and the right edge by holding down the mouse button or touchpad and pressing the Shift key.

Method 3: Cmd-Shift-5

A shortcut command introduced in macOS Mojave back in 2018, Cmd-Shift-5 brings up a small panel at the bottom of your display with your screen capture options. There are three screenshot buttons that you can use to capture the entire screen, a window, or a selection of your screen.

Likewise, you can use the two video recording buttons to record your entire screen or a selection of it. On the left is an X button to close the screenshot box, but you can also just hit the escape key to exit the window.

Mac Screenshot Options

Your CMD+Shift+5 options.

Dan Ackerman/CNET

On the right is an option button. You can choose where you want to save your screenshot – Desktop, Documents, Clipboard, Email, Messages, Preview or other locations, and set a delay of 5 or 10 seconds so you can arrange items that might otherwise disappear when you activate your screenshot tool.

By default, the Show Floating Thumbnail option is enabled, which displays a small preview thumbnail of your screenshot you just took in the lower-right corner of your screen, similar to the iOS screenshot process. Unlike your iPhone, you can disable this preview thumbnail on your Mac. Finally, you can display your mouse pointer in a screenshot or video.

If the screenshot box gets in your way, you can grab its left edge and drag it to a new location on your screen.

Bonus for Touch Bar MacBooks: Cmd-Shift-6

If you have an older MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar, you can also take a screenshot of what’s currently showing on the Touch Bar. Just press Cmd-Shift-6 to take a very wide and thin screenshot of your Touch Bar.

long thin screenshot of a MacBook's Touch Bar

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Simple note

Using the floating thumbnail gives you quick access to markup tools to annotate your screenshot. You can swipe away the floating thumbnail or just let it go away on its own and it will be saved to where you last saved a screenshot. Click on the floating thumbnail and it will open in a Markup View (but not Preview) preview window with all the markup tools you get in Preview.

You can right click on the floating thumbnail to:

  • Save the screenshot to your desktop, documents folder or clipboard
  • Open it in Mail, Messages, Preview or Photos
  • Show in Finder
  • Extinguish
  • Open it in the markup preview window described above
  • Close (and save)

Longtime Mac screenshotters might be slow to embrace the Cmd-Shift-5 keyboard shortcut, but I tend to use it to annotate screenshots without having to open Preview and quickly delete screenshots that I know I’ll take right away screwed up. The 5 and 10 second delay options are also useful and appreciated additions.