How to Take A Screenshot on Mac (5 Simple Ways with Shortcuts)

You have many reasons to use screenshots at work. They help you capture and share specific information or errors quickly, document stages of work for future reference, provide visual evidence in reports or presentations and facilitate clear communication with clients, students, or team members by showing exactly what they see on their screens. But how do you take Mac screenshots? Read on to find out!

Ian Mutuli | February 16, 2024 | 8 min read time

Article Last Updated: March 02, 2024

How to Take A Screenshot on Mac (5 Simple Ways with Shortcuts)

Want to capture and share screenshots in a few clicks? If you own a Mac device, you’ll be glad to know there are many ways to do so. In this article, we will tell you what shortcuts to use for capturing screenshots quickly, the native apps you can use, and how Zight, a screenshot app, simplifies the whole process.

As you know, screenshots simplify communication regardless of the industry you work, whether you’re saving an important document, a memorable conversation, or anything in between. In this era of remote work and asynchronous communication, you can see how screenshots help improve productivity at work, how you can use them in customer success and to demonstrate development changes, and how to leave feedback with annotated screenshots.

The best thing is you don’t need to invest too much to capture high-quality screenshots. You just need to know how to use these 5 methods below.

Here’s how to take a screenshot on Mac – effortlessly!

1. Using Mac Screenshot Keyboard Shortcuts

To take a screenshot on a Mac desktop, you can use built-in keyboard shortcuts that allow you to capture the entire screen, a specific window, or a selected portion of your screen. Here’s a quick guide for any mac user on using these shortcuts:

1. Using Mac Screenshot Keyboard Shortcuts

To take a screenshot on a Mac, you can use built-in keyboard shortcuts that allow you to capture the entire screen, a specific window, or a selected portion of your screen. Here’s a quick guide on using these shortcuts:

I. Entire Screen Capture

Press Shift + Command + 3 at the same time to capture all the content on your entire screen at that time.

You might see a thumbnail in the bottom-right corner of your mac screen, which you can click to edit (crop, draw, add text) your screenshot before saving. Alternatively, you can wait for the floating thumbnail to fade away on its own after the screenshot is saved to your desktop. With these saved screenshots, you can then locate the file on your mac desktop and edit it.

II. Partial Screen Capture

Press and hold Press Shift + Command + 4 at the same time.

This keyboard shortcut will allow you to use your mouse cursor as a crosshair – click and drag to select the area you want to capture, then release to take the screenshot.

You might get a floating thumbnail option on the bottom right corner of your screen, and you can click it to edit your image. if you don’t, it will slowly fade away after your screenshot is saved to your desktop.

You can also lock in the size of your screenshot. To do so, click and hold the Space bar after highlighting an area with your crosshair (before letting go of your mouse or trackpad). This will mark the shape and size of your screenshot area – you can drag the box anywhere on your screen, and then release the space bar to capture the content you need.

Similarly, after highlighting your screenshot area, and just before you let go of your crosshair, you can press and hold the Shift key to adjust the height and width of the box. To do so, press the Shift key to toggle between the height and width and reposition the edges. When done, let go of the mouse button or touchpad to take the screenshot.

If you don’t want to proceed with capturing the screenshot, you only need to press ESC (the Escape) key to cancel.

III. To Capture a Specific Window

Open the exact window you want to capture, press and hold the Shift + Command + 4, then press the Space bar.

When you do, your cursor will turn into a camera icon, and you can move it to any window you want to capture. Click on the window to capture its screenshot.

When you capture the screenshot using this keyboard shortcut, it will have a white border around the window that has a bit of a drop shadow. To remove the shadow, hold the Option key at the same time you click the window.

You might see a floating thumbnail option on the screen – you can click it to edit your image. Alternatively, wait for the screenshot to save on your desktop before editing it.

2. Using the Screenshot App

Press Shift + Command + 5 to open the Screenshot app. You can also use Launchpad to locate the app and display its tools.

The Screenshot Menu

Here’s what the tools mean:

  1. Capture the entire screen.
  2. Capture a window.
  3. Capture a portion of the screen – drag the crosshair to adjust the size of the area you want to capture.
  4. Record the entire screen.
  5. Record a portion of the screen -drag the frame to select the area of the screen you want to capture.

To take your screenshot, select either the entire screen, window, or portion of the screen, then click Capture.

You can click Options to set a timer for your screenshot (how much time you want between pressing Capture and the screenshot being taken) or choose where to save your screenshot.

The Options menu has the show floating thumbnail option that appears in the bottom-right corner of the screen when you take a screenshot. You can click the thumbnail to edit your screenshot by cropping, drawing, or even sharing it via your Apple ID account. Alternatively, you can ignore the thumbnail and it will disappear after your screenshot is saved on your desktop.

3. Using the Touch Bar

If you have a MacBook Pro, you might be able to capture screenshots using the Touch Bar. Here’s how to add the native Screenshot tool to your Touch Bar:

  1. Click on the Apple menu at the top left corner of your screen and select System Preferences.
  2. Within System Preferences, find and click on Keyboard.
  3. Click on the Customize Control Strip button located at the bottom of the window. This will bring up the customization options for the Touch Bar.
  4. You will see various tools and shortcuts that can be added to the Touch Bar. Look for the Screenshot button, which typically resembles a camera icon. Click and drag this button to the bottom of your screen, aiming for the representation of the Touch Bar that appears. Release the button to place it on your Touch Bar. Click Done to save your changes.

Now, the Screenshot app will be accessible directly from your Touch Bar. To use it, simply tap the Screenshot button you added. This will display screenshot options on your Touch Bar, including capturing the entire screen, capturing a selected portion of the screen, and capturing a window. Select your desired option to take a screenshot.

How to Capture a Screenshot of Your Touch Bar

When you want to share or document the Touch Bar’s current state, press Shift + Command + 6. You will capture the contents of the entire touch bar and save the file to your desktop.

4. Capture a Mac Screenshot with Preview

Preview is a powerful tool built into macOS to handle a wide range of image and PDF files. It offers editing capabilities such as adding text, shapes, and annotations. Here’s how to use Preview for capturing screenshots:

  1. Navigate to your Applications folder, open Preview and click on “File” in the menu bar at the top of the screen.
  2. In the dropdown menu choose one of the three options based on what you need to capture. For “From Selection” and “From Window,” you’ll need to select the area or window before the screenshot is taken. If you choose “From Entire Screen,” prepare your screen before the 10-second timer ends.
  3. After capturing the screenshot, it will automatically open in Preview, where you can edit it immediately.
  4. Once you’re satisfied with your edits, you can save the screenshot by clicking “File” > “Save” or use the “Export” option for more format choices. Preview also allows you to directly share the screenshot via email, Messages, AirDrop, and other services through the “Share” button in the toolbar.

how to capture screenshots on mac

We have seen the different native screenshot apps you can use to capture screenshots on your Mac computer. However, these tools can limit your workflow if you need to take and share many screenshots with ease.

So, we recommend using the cloud-based Zight screenshot app for this. It is one of the best screenshot software that also allows seamless screen recordings and easy file sharing. Here’s how to annotate a screenshot on Mac with Zight:

  1. Download the Zight app for Mac. You can also download the Google Chrome extension here.
  2. Open the Zight app on your device and click Capture. You can also click keyboard shortcuts Shift + Command + 5 to open the screenshot app.
  3. You can take a screenshot of your full screen or partial screenshots of a selected area or window. For the second option, click and drag the crosshair to select the area you will capture and you will automatically capture the screen.
  4. With Zight, you can also take a screenshot of a select window by clicking the Space bar, or click Enter to capture a screenshot of your last area selection. You can also press ESC to cancel the screenshot process.
  5. Once you capture your screenshot, it will automatically upload to the cloud, and a link to the file will be copied to your clipboard. You can proceed to paste this file to your recipients, whether in emails, Slack, Asana – or any other productivity software you use.
  6. However, if you want to edit the screenshot before sharing, wait for it to automatically load on your default browser and clock Annotate.
  7. You can then add annotation elements like text, arrow, line, rectangle, ellipse, path, and marker. You can also crop the screenshot, redact sensitive information, and add stickers. Click Save when done.
  8. If you want to collaborate with your team using this screenshot, you can also choose who can see the file and add comments or reactions to it.
  9. When done, share the screenshot via the URL link, or download it to your desktop for sending later.

Wrapping Up

If we could simplify the process, we’d say you can take a screenshot using native apps, or a more powerful third-party app like Zight. Native apps come with lots of shortcuts you can use, but they can also be quite limiting if you need to capture and share many screenshots daily for work.

Third-party screenshot software comes with a more streamlined process where you can take as many screenshots as necessary and collaborate on them with teams (including monitoring their statistics, like views and reactions). Even better, a screenshot tool like Zight offers cloud storage so you’ll never lose your saved screenshots – and your recipients can also always access the files as long as they have the links (even if they don’t use Zight!)

If you want the best convenience when taking screenshots on Mac, download Zight today. You can also use the software for screen recording, GIF creation, and so much more!

Create & share screenshots, screen recordings, and GIFs with Zight