IT Pro is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

How to take a screenshot on MacOS

We run you through the various ways to take a screenshot on MacOS, including how to capture tricky areas like the menu and touch bars

A screenshot box is dragged over the MacOS purple desert background

Any number of reasons could arise for you to take a screenshot on your MacBook or iMac. Perhaps you want to save evidence of a business expense, or capture images of an IT issue that you can attach by email. Luckily, there are several ways to take a screenshot in MacOS, with a range of options to cater to your individual needs.

Different types of macOS screenshot

To see all your screenshotting options, use the shortcut Shift + Command + 5. This opens up the screenshot menu (pictured below) from which you can select a range of choices.

The screenshot menu for MacOS, showing a range of screenshot options

These include a button to capture the entire screen, capture a manually-selected window, or capture a selected portion of a window by clicking and dragging. Also included in the menu are options to take a screen recording of the entire screen, or of a selected portion of the screen.

Any screenshots or screen recordings will by default be saved directly to the desktop, but you can change this to any folder of your choice by selecting 'options' from the menu and selecting your folder of choice under the 'Save to' heading.

Screenshot shortcuts in MacOS

If you want to take screenshots without first opening the screenshot menu each time, all the actions within the menu have a dedicated keyboard shortcut.

To capture the entire screen, press Shift + Command + 3. This will take a screenshot of the entire screen or, if you have multiple monitors connected, separate screenshots of every screen at the same time.

If you just want to quickly take a screenshot of part of the screen, say a portion of a webpage, you can use the shortcut Shift + Command + 4.

To access the menu, as covered above, press Shift + Command + 5.

If you need to take a screenshot of the touch bar on your MacBook, perhaps to show off your shortcut layouts, use the shortcut Shift + Command + 6.

To take a screenshot of a particular portion of the screen, press Shift + Command + 3 and the mouse cursor will change into a small target symbol. Once this has happened, click and drag anywhere on your screen and a grey box will appear. Drag further to increase its size and change its shape. Everything inside the box will be converted into a screenshot.

A darkened screenshot box is dragged over the Google search homepage

What apps can I use to take a screenshot on my Mac?

If the built-in tools Apple includes within macOS aren't doing it for you, you're in luck - there are a range of third-party apps and utilities that offer additional functionality beyond the default options. Many are completely free, and you can find some of our favourites below.

Shottr

Don't let the fact that it's free fool you: Shottr is worth a mention for its powerful range of features. These include scrolling screenshots, the ability to pixelate portions of your screenshots, and even the ability to work as a screen ruler.

Skitch

Another free app, Skitch is produced by the makers of Evernote and boasts good compatibility with its parent app. It's a good option for anyone already familiar with the functionality of Evernote, which works well in the Mac architecture as a result of its clean design and organisational capabilities. It offers good annotation options, with an easy-to-use UI for editing screenshots to your heart's content.

CleanShotX

Where CleanShotX falls down against the others in price, costing a comparatively large $29, it more than makes up for it in functionality. It currently boasts over 50 tools including scrolling screenshots, recording GIFs, powerful screen annotation, pinning screenshots and even hiding select desktop icons from your screenshots at will. The app is quite the silver bullet for any screenshot and screen annotation task.

LightShot

This free option is similar to Skitch in many ways, running as an extremely lightweight program available through the App Store. One notable quality of life feature that comes as default with LightShot is users being asked to choose a folder to save each screenshot in whenever they're taken, which could either be seen as a hurdle to fast-paced screenshotting or as a powerful antidote to the desktop clutter that the native screenshot settings on macOS generates. 

Featured Resources

The state of Salesforce: Future of business

Three articles that look forward into the changing state of Salesforce and the future of business

Free Download

The mighty struggle to migrate SAP to the cloud may be over

A simplified and unified approach to delivering Enterprise Transformation in the cloud

Free Download

The business value of the transformative mainframe

Modernising on the mainframe

Free Download

The Total Economic Impact™ Of IBM FlashSystem

Cost savings and business benefits enabled by FlashSystem

Free Download

Recommended

Mysterious MacOS spyware discovered using public cloud storage as its control server
malware

Mysterious MacOS spyware discovered using public cloud storage as its control server

22 Jul 2022

Most Popular

Cyber attack on software supplier causes "major outage" across the NHS
cyber attacks

Cyber attack on software supplier causes "major outage" across the NHS

8 Aug 2022
Why convenience is the biggest threat to your security
Sponsored

Why convenience is the biggest threat to your security

8 Aug 2022
Electrical explosion reported at Google's Iowa data centre
data centres

Electrical explosion reported at Google's Iowa data centre

9 Aug 2022