One thing I love about Mac OS X (compare to Windows) is the fact that it has a substantial built-in support for taking screenshot from the get go! Unlike Windows which has only two screenshot shortcuts, i.e. PrtScn (to take the whole screen) and Alt+PrtScn (to take the active window), Mac OS X has several ways of taking a screenshot:

To take a Screenshot of the whole screen:

Command+Shift+3 : Take a screenshot and save it to the Desktop

Command+Ctrl+Shift+3 : Take a screenshot and save it to the Clipboard

To take a Screenshot of a particular window:

Command+Shift+4, then Space :  You will see that the mouse pointer will change to a (rather old) camera icon, with which you can choose which window you want to take the screenshot of.  As you hover the pointer on a window, the window color will change to indicate that it has been selected.  To actually take a screenshot of the selected window, just click on it.  This shorrtcut, like the one above, will also save the resulting screenshot on the Desktop.

Command+Ctrl+Shift+4 : The same as its sibling above, but again instead of saving the screenshot to the Desktop, it’s saving it to the Clipboard.

To take a Screenshot of an area of the screen:

Command+Shift+4 : The mouse pointer will change to a target cross-hair with two numbers next to it indicating the x and y coordinates.  As you move the pointer the two coordinates will change according to where the cross-hair is positioned.  To select an area,  just click – hold – and drag the pointer to make a rectangle to mark the area that you want to grab.  As soon as you release the mouse/touchpad button, a screenshot of the selected area will be saved to the Desktop.  Remember, this happens immediate, so if you make a mistake you just have to redo it again.

Command+Ctrl+Shift+4 : Same as above but saving to the Clipboard.

In Leopard you will have another modifier key to help you on your selection:

Space:  If you hold the Space key while you are making a selection, the area of the selection (the resulted rectangle) will be locked.  And when you move your pointer, the whole selection will move (normally it would resize the selection).

Shift: If you hold the Shift key while you are making a selection, it will resize only one side of the rectangle (which side depends on which way you move your pointer next, up-down-left-right).

Option (that’s Alt for Windows user): If you hold the Option key while you are making a selection, the area will resize with its centre as the anchor point.

The resulted screenshot image will be in a PNG format by default.  If you want to change this format, you can do so by opening Terminal (located at /Applications/Utilities folder) and type in the following command:

defaults write type image_format
killall SystemUIServer

Where image_format can be one of jpg, tiff, pdf, png, bmp or pict (and many others).

Not content with providing us with this Awesome Keyboard Shortcut, Apple has also given us a screen grabber application (also by default), which is called, wait for it, Grab :)  You can find Grab at /Applications/Utilities folder.

If you want to read more info on this (also other alternative screenshot apps), you can go the this Macrumors wiki page, from which I based this post.

Do you have any tips and tricks in doing screenshot in a Mac? or maybe you have your own favourite screen grabber app?  Please share with us in the comment.

You might also like these post:

Keyboard Shortcut to Open Folders or Files and Run Programs in Mac

How to Show Folder Size in Finder

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  1. Pingback: How To Type The Hash (#) Symbol In Mac? : Too Geek To Be True

  2. Margi Rawlinson
    August 1, 2011 at 11:18 am

    Thanks you for this, Chris. As a relatively new Mac user who needs to use the # key to set up a password for a new organisation I'm working for, I had a right panic on trying to find it! Phew! You've saved me a lot of angst!

    • mahadewa
      August 1, 2011 at 4:06 pm

      Glad I could help :)

    • mahadewa
      August 5, 2011 at 8:13 pm

      Glad I could help :)

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