If you own any kind of modern Mac, there are three basic ways to take a screenshot with keyboard shortcuts — and if you have a MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar there’s even a fourth method. Apple’s macOS software also gives you a fair number of options to easily save, delete and open the screenshot for markup.
These tips also apply to the latest Macs, as Apple has recently updated the 13-inch MacBook Pro with a new M2 chip, while a similar MacBook Air, with a much deeper physical redesign, is coming soon.
Does Mac Have a Screen Capture Tool
Method 1: Cmd-Shift-3
This keyboard shortcut captures a screenshot of your entire screen.
Method 2: Cmd-Shift-4
Use this keyboard combo to turn your cursor into a crosshair, which you can drag to select a portion of your screen to capture. Release the mouse button or trackpad to take the shot.
You have a number of other options after hitting Cmd-Shift-4:
Press and release the spacebar: The crosshair turns into a little camera icon, which you can move over any open window. Click on your desired window to take a screenshot of it. A screenshot captured by this method features a white border around the window with a bit of a drop shadow.
Press and hold the spacebar (after dragging to highlight an area but before releasing the mouse button or trackpad): This locks in the shape and size of the selection area but lets you reposition it on the screen. It’s very handy if your initial selection area is off by a few pixels; just hold down the spacebar to reposition it before releasing the mouse button to snap a screenshot.
Hold down the Shift key (after dragging to highlight an area but before releasing the mouse button or trackpad): This locks in each side of the selection area made with the crosshairs save the bottom edge, letting you move your mouse up or down to position the bottom edge.
Without releasing the mouse button, release the Shift key and hit it again to reposition the right edge of your selection area. You can toggle between moving the bottom edge and right edge by keeping the mouse button or touchpad engaged and pressing the Shift key.
Method 3: Cmd-Shift-5
A shortcut command introduced way back in MacOS Mojave in 2018, Cmd-Shift-5 calls up a small panel at the bottom of your display with your screen capture options. There are three screenshot buttons that let you capture the entire screen, a window or a selection of your screen.
Likewise, the two video-recording buttons let you record your entire screen or a selection of it. On the left is an X button to close the screenshot panel, but you can also just hit the Escape key to exit out.
On the right side is an Options button. It lets you choose where to save your screenshot — Desktop, Documents, Clipboard, Mail, Messages, Preview or Other Location, and set a 5- or 10-second delay so you can line up items that might otherwise disappear when you engage your screenshot tool.
By default, the Show Floating Thumbnail option is enabled, which puts a little preview thumbnail of your just-captured screenshot in the lower-right corner of your screen, similar to the screenshot procedure with iOS. Unlike on your iPhone, you can turn off this preview thumbnail on your Mac. Lastly, you can choose to show your mouse pointer in a screenshot or video.
If the screenshot panel is in your way, you can grab its left edge and drag it to a new spot on your screen.
Bonus for Touch Bar MacBooks: Cmd-Shift-6
If you’ve got an older 15- or 16-inch MacBook Pro or a current 13-inch MacBook Pro, which is the very last model with the Touch Bar, you can also take a screenshot of what’s currently showing on the Touch Bar. Just hit Cmd-Shift-6 to take a very wide and skinny screenshot of your Touch Bar.
If you embrace the Floating Thumbnail, you’ll gain quick access to Markup tools to annotate your screenshot. You can swipe the Floating Thumbnail away or just let it slip away on its own and it’ll be saved to the spot you last saved a screenshot. Click the Floating Thumbnail and it’ll open in a Markup View preview window (but not Preview) with all of the markup tools you get in Preview.
You can right-click 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
- Open it in the Markup preview window described above
- Close (and save)
Longtime Mac screenshotters may be slow to adopt the Cmd-Shift-5 shortcut, but I find myself using it more for the ability to annotate screenshots without needing to open Preview, and quickly delete screenshots that I know immediately I messed up. The 5- and 10-second delay options are also useful and appreciated additions.
Snipping tool for mac
Screenshots have become so ubiquitous nowadays that we don’t give them too much thought anymore. Yet every day we use them to show, explain, and communicate. Whether it’s sending an image of a software bug to customer support, a quick how-to GIF to a colleague, or a heartfelt joke to a loved one, screenshots help us enrich and liven up our daily communication.
Naturally, for creating and editing screenshots, Windows PC has its widely respected Snipping Tool. In fact, if you’ve recently switched your PC for Mac, at some point you’re guaranteed to wonder where and what is Snipping Tool for Mac.
Is there a snipping tool for Mac?
Rest assured, you’re not left without screenshots forever. A snipping tool for Mac does exist. Moreover, just like on Windows, it’s built right into the operating system — which is the answer to the common question of where to download snipping tool for Mac.
macOS snipping tool is so baked into the operating system that it doesn’t even have a name. It just … well, works, mirroring the Snipping Tool you’ve grown accustomed to on Windows almost to a T. Plus, there’s not just one snipping tool on Mac — there are dozens. Below, we’ll compare the default screenshot snipping tool Mac offers to its Windows alternative, and introduce third-party tools like CleanShot, Dropshare, and Capto as well.
How to use snipping tool on Mac
Even if you don’t use keyboard shortcuts much, you probably know one or two that let you take screenshots. There are different options on how to take a snip on Mac. You can use a specific shortcut for each type of screen capturing — area, window, entire screen, etc. Or, you can start with a shortcut that opens the macOS snipping tool menu and choose the best option there.
Where do your screen snips go? By default, every screenshot you create is saved to Desktop. To change the location, press ⇧⌘5 to open the snipping tool menu > Options > Save to. Let’s dive a bit deeper into what shortcuts you should keep in mind to make the most of the macOS snipping tool.
A shortcut for snipping tool
What is the macOS snipping tool shortcut? The shortest answer to “how to snip on Mac?” is to press ⇧⌘5. The shortcut calls up a small menu in the lower part of the screen with lots of options to choose from.
This menu first appeared in macOS Mojave in 2018. Before then, Mac users were limited to either using ⇧⌘3 to take a screenshot of the whole screen or ⇧⌘4 to select an area (these shortcuts still work the same). If you’re using one of the macOS versions before Mojave, make sure to update to the latest macOS available to make full use of the snipping tool on Mac.
So the menu for the Mac OS snipping tool features the following options:
- Capture Entire Screen
- Capture Selected Window
- Caption Selected Portion (area)
- Record Entire Screen
- and Record Selected Portion (area).
Besides, there is also an Options dropdown, where you can change where to save the resulting image, set a timer, and choose whether to show the mouse pointer.
BTW, did you know that you can use Mac snipping tool to also take screenshots of the Touch Bar?
- To save a screenshot of Touch Bar as a file on your desktop press ⇧⌘6
- To copy what you see on Touch Bar to your clipboard press ⌃⇧⌘6
You can customize your keyboard shortcuts by going to System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts > Screenshots.
Right away you can see how similar the functionality of a snipping tool on Mac is to its Windows counterpart. Let’s compare screenshot capabilities side by side:
- Full screen: Mac and Windows
- Single app window: Mac and Windows
- Area: Mac and Windows
- Freeform: Windows only
- Video: Mac only
- Delay: 5 or 10 seconds on Mac, 1 to 5 seconds on Windows
- Editing: full toolkit on Mac, limited on Windows
Diving into details, you might notice that the snipping tool on Mac doesn’t allow for a freeform capture. Likewise, its Windows alternative can’t record video and only offers limited annotation options. So naturally, this default screenshot grabber on Mac would be your go-to in most cases. However, if you need to be able to capture screenshots with a freehand selection or you’re just eager to use something more powerful, third-party Mac apps have a lot to offer.
Snipping tool to capture your screen without distractions
While Mac’s default snipping tool can create basic screenshots, a professional utility like CleanShot X seamlessly enhances its functionality. It allows you to hide all desktop icons to capture your screen with no distractions, change the wallpaper, preview screenshots before you save them, copy the resulting image or video into your clipboard, annotate images with ease, and much more.
CleanShot X is also way more robust than the macOS tool in terms of how you snip and copy different parts of your screen. You can take a scrolling capture, record GIFs and videos (in fact, all the GIFs you see in this article were created with CleanShot X), etc.
To give yourself an example of what CleanShot X is truly capable of, choose Capture Area within the app (notice how desktop icons disappear), drag your mouse to make a screenshot, and click the pen icon to edit the result before it gets saved.
To be able to always capture your screen without all the desktop icons getting in your way, set and use custom hotkeys in the Preferences menu of the CleanShot X app. And if you wonder what’s the most effective way to share your screenshot with others, you need to know about one more app.
Extract text from PDFs, images, presentations, or videos
If you don’t want to capture screen but rather text from a specific area of your screen, TextSniper does the job perfectly. This OCR tool allows you to extract text from a YouTube video, someone’s online presentation, graphical image, PDF document, you name it.
screenshot MacBook air
How Do I Take a Screenshot of All on My MacBook Air?
The quickest and easiest way to take a screenshot of your entire screen on a MacBook is to use the command + shift + 3 keyboard shortcut. Press all three of these keys at the same time to screenshot all of the items visible on your MacBook’s screen.
The screenshot will be saved to your desktop as a PNG file and a quick preview of it will appear in the lower-right corner of your screen which you can click on to preview, edit, share, or delete it. The little preview in the lower right corner will eventually go away, so if you are taking several screenshots in a row, it’s a good idea to wait a moment until the preview slide disappears.
How to Screenshot Part of Your MacBook Air’s Screen
To take a screenshot of just a specific part of your desktop or an app on your MacBook Air, press command + shift + 4. The pointer will then into a crosshair for you to click and drag so you can select the part of the screen you want to capture.
A screenshot of the selected area will appear as a temporary preview in the lower-right of the screen and will save to your desktop as a PNG file.
How to Screenshot an App Window on a MacBook Air
If you just want to take a screenshot of a open window or app instead of the entire screen, press command + shift + 4 + spacebar at the same time and then click on the window you want to screenshot. The cursor will turn into a small camera icon.
As with the other MacBook Air screenshot methods, a screenshot of an individual app or window will also save to your desktop and display a temporary clickable preview after it’s created.
How to Make a Screen Recording and More on MacBook Air
MacBook Air laptops running macOS Mojave or later come with a preinstalled app called Screenshot. This app offers a variety of screencap options including more advanced features such as timed screenshots and even video recordings.
- Press command + shift + 5 to open the Screenshot app on MacBook Air.
- The first option on the far left of the Screenshot menu, Capture Entire Screen, makes a screencap of everything currently showing on your MacBook Air’s monitor.
- The second option from the left, Capture Selected Window, will take a screenshot of a single open app or window that you select.
- The third option, Capture Selected Portion, may be pre-selected when you open the Screenshot app. It creates a select tool which you can use to take a screenshot a specific part of your screen.
- Record Entire Screen is the fourth option. Choosing this menu item will begin a video recording of your desktop and whatever apps you’re using. This can be useful if you ever need to make a video to show someone how to do something on their own MacBook Air.
- Record Selected Portion, the final main menu item, can be used to record a video of a specific section of your screen.
The Screenshot app’s Options menu contains a variety of ways to customize your MacBook Air’s screenshot settings.
For example, you can change how your MacBook Air screenshots are saved by choosing a different file location or app under Save to. Select Other Location to find a location or app not on the default list.
The Timer settings can be used to create a delay between the time you start a screenshot and the time it’s taken. This can be useful if you need to quickly move somethings out of the way before the screen recording or screenshot is taken.
The final three settings under Options allow you to customize your screenshots even more.
- Show Floating Thumbnail: This can enable or disable the small preview that appears after the screenshot is taken.
- Remember Last Selection: This option allows the selection tool to open in the same place and size that it was when you last used it to take a screenshot.
- Show Mouse Pointer: This will either hide or show the mouse cursor in the screenshots and recordings that you make on your MacBook Air.