How to take a screenshot on your Mac computer

Macbook AirHollis Johnson/Business Insider

  • You can take a screenshot on your Mac computer using several different methods.
  • With the below shortcuts, your screenshot will save as a .png labeled "Screen Shot" followed by the date and time of the screenshot.
  • You can screenshot on a Mac using a mouse or a trackpad.

If you're a new Mac owner, or you've owned a Mac for a while and never learned the useful function of capturing a screenshot, it's worthwhile to take a few minutes and get this skill under your belt. As the character Sam Seaborn on "The West Wing" once said, "Let's forget the fact that you're coming a little late to the party and embrace the fact that you showed up at all."

The screenshot bandwagon is really worth hopping on, mainly because it's a great way to keep records. Whenever I buy tickets for a show, schedule a bill payment, or make an appointment anywhere, I screenshot the confirmation. That way, if my credit card payment doesn't post on the day I scheduled it for, I'll have proof that I scheduled the payment before on the due date.

Taking a screenshot on a Mac is also a pretty good way to save pictures if you'd rather not take the time to download them. Whether you're a proficient Mac user, or a Mac neophyte, here are the methods you can use to capture a selected portion of your screenshot, a particular window, or your whole screen in a screenshot image.

How to screenshot a selection of your screen on Mac

1. Press Command-Shift-4 on your keyboard. Wondering if you have to hold them all down at the same time? The answer is a hearty yes. Technically, Apple Support says to press Shift-Command-4, but I hold down the command button first, followed by shift, followed by 4, because what's life without a little rebellion?

IMG 7636.JPGPress and hold Command-Shift-4.Maya Kachroo-Levine/Business Insider

2. Drag your mouse or tracking pad over the area you want to screenshot. After pressing Command-Shift-4, your mouse will become what can only be described as a target icon - a symmetrical "t" with a circle around the center. That's your greenlight that you're ready to screenshot! Now drag that icon over the part of the screen you want to capture, using your mouse or your trackpad.

IMG 7639.JPGThe target icon pictured allows you to drag and select an area of your screen to screenshot.Maya Kachroo-Levine/Business Insider

3. If you're in the middle of step 2 and decide you're disatisfied with the crop of your selection, or for any other reason, you can exit the screenshot by pressing the Escape button (esc). If not, lineup your selection.

IMG_7642The selection screenshot in action.Maya Kachroo-Levine/Business Insider

4. When you have the right selection lined up, release your mouse. And voila! Congratulations, your screenshot will magically appear on your desktop, saved as a .png file. It will be labeled with the words "Screen Shot" followed by the date and time of your screenshot - down to the second. Apple really doesn't miss a beat.

Screen Shot 2019 04 05 at 7.19.57 PMThe resulting screenshot.Maya Kachroo-Levine/Business Insider

How to screenshot a particular window on Mac

1. Starting out the same way, press Command-Shift-4 on your keyboard.

2. When the target icon shows up, press the space bar to turn the target icon into a camera icon.

3. Drag the camera icon over any open window, menu, bar, or your dock to take a screenshot of that particular window. (A window will light up blue when you drag the icon over it.)

4. Your screenshot will save to your desktop in the same manner as step 4 above.

How to screenshot your whole screen on Mac

1. Press Command-Shift-3 on your keyboard.

2. Your entire screen, including your dock, any windows you have visibly open on the screen, and the toolbar at the top of the screen, will appear saved as a screenshot on your desktop in the same manner as the above methods.

Now, go ahead - capture your bank transactions, a hilarious message from a coworker on Gchat, or an adorable photo of your granddaughter taking her first steps.

Once you've mastered these tricks, you can even dabble in several other screenshot variations that are new to Mac computers running MacOS Mojave.

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