How to Take a Screenshot on Mac (incl. M1 M2)

Tips • March 8, 2023

Screenshot mac

Taking better screenshots is a skill that everyone should have these days. So the next time you want to show your friend how to set up an app or solve a complex problem, screenshots come in handy. For publishers or content creators, screenshots are also a great way to improve their content and reach. Therefore, it is pretty helpful that Macs, like other computers, offer multiple ways to take a screenshot.

In this brief guide, we have discussed the best ways to take a screenshot on a Mac. You can use any of these methods based on the control and features you want.

Method #1 Take a screenshot using the built-in Screenshot app

As you may know, macOS has a built-in Screenshot app that you can use to take screenshots of your Mac. It is the easiest and most integrated solution for pictures and screen recordings. Therefore, the Screenshot app should do the job if you simply want to capture the entire screen or an area.

Here is how to use the Screenshot app to capture screenshots on your Mac.

  1. Open Launchpad on your Mac
  2. Search for the Screenshot app and open it
  3. You can see the Screenshot app with the full interface in a second. It should look like the screenshot below.image1
  1. As you can see, you can choose between a few options:
    1. Capture the entire screen
    2. Capture a window
    3. Capture a part of the screen
    4. Record the entire screen
    5. Record a part of the screen
  2. Depending on your requirements, you can choose one of these options. In most cases, you may need the first three options. For instance, you may use the third option to highlight a part of the window. On the other hand, you can use the first option if you’re going to capture everything on the screen.
  1. By the way, you also get a couple of other options. For instance, you can decide where to save the screenshot or screen recording. The Screenshot app also has a built-in timer for 5 or 10 seconds. You can also choose whether you want to see the floating thumbnail post-screenshot. Lastly, the Screenshot app lets you decide whether you want the mouse pointer on the screenshot.
  1. Once you have made a choice, click the Capture button.

Depending on your preferences, a floating thumbnail may appear on one part of the screen. You can double-click the thumbnail to open the screenshot image and make a few edits. However, we should warn you that this built-in utility has no annotation tools.

So, you cannot do anything beyond adding a few lines or shapes to the image. However, you can right-click the thumbnail and explore a few quick actions, such as saving the file to the clipboard, opening it in Mail or Photos, or showing it in Finder. The thumbnail will go away automatically or once you have picked an option.

As you can see, the built-in method to take screenshots on Mac works great when you need a simple picture of the screen. While it does not have dedicated annotation or editing tools, you can make a few pointers. If you want additional options, however, keep reading.

Method #2 Take a screenshot on Mac using keyboard shortcuts

If you do not want the hassle of opening an app to take a screenshot, you can use keyboard shortcuts instead. Fortunately, macOS has a few default keyboard shortcuts to make this possible. Unless you have modified macOS shortcuts extensively, you can use the following keystroke combinations to take different types of screenshots on Mac.

  • Shift + Command + 3

This keyboard shortcut will capture a screenshot of the entire screen. It is an impressive command that you can keep in mind. When you take a full screenshot, everything on the screen is included, and you can crop it as you wish.

  • Shift + Command + 4

This keyboard shortcut will launch the portion screenshot option. Select the area you want to capture and leave the mouse/trackpad.

  • Shift + Command + 4 + Spacebar

This combination will launch the shortcut option, but you can select a window. The screenshot will consist of content from only the fixed window.

As you can see, these keyboard shortcuts are simple and easy to remember. After using them a few times, you can develop muscle memory as well. However, there are a few limitations, including the lack of editing and annotation options.

While you can save and edit the screenshot via Photoshop or other editing tools, you may need an integrated solution.

Related: What Are the Mac Keyboard Modifiers? A Simple Guide

Method #3 Take screenshots using the Preview app

You may already know that Preview is one of the most powerful apps on macOS. So, it will not be surprising that you can use the Preview app to take screenshots on your Mac. This option comes in handy when you want to take a screenshot of a document or image. The steps you have to follow are:

  1. Open the file containing the portion that you want to capture
  2. Go to File > Take Screenshot > From Window
  1. Preview will then take a full screenshot of the window and save it in the location you select

As you can see, the steps are straightforward. More so, you do not have to pay anything extra to use the app or its features. On the other hand,

Method #4 Take screenshots using a third-party app

This method is probably the best when you need the best of both worlds. If the built-in Screenshot app and the keyboard shortcuts do not seem that effective, you can use one of the many screenshot apps for Mac. It just so happens that you can find different types of screenshot apps.

  1. Third-party screenshot apps

You can find a variety of third-party screenshot apps for Mac. These apps are designed to offer a seamless screenshot-capturing and management experience. Therefore, they often come with powerful features for editing, annotation, and sharing. For instance, let’s take the case of CleanShot X, one of the most popular as well as our favorite screenshot apps for Mac.


CleanShot X helps you take different types of screenshots and offers impressive editing/annotation options. For instance, you can capture the entire screen, including additional displays if you have them. Then, you get a bunch of tools like magnification, redaction, highlighting, and other markup methods. In the end, you can create a screenshot that conveys the message well.

These tools are great if you are preparing screenshots for tutorials or other web publications. In these cases, you have to ensure the best screenshots to help people. So, if you think this is you, you can get one of the best screenshot apps for Mac.

RELATED: A Content Creator’s Perspective – Mastering Mac Screenshots With CleanShot X

  1. Third-party screen recording apps

There are times when you need a little more than static screenshots, and you may consider getting fully-fledged screen recording apps. These apps are designed to offer multiple ways to record the screen and turn them into high-quality videos. For instance, if you want to create a video explaining how to manage windows on your Mac, you may want one of these tools. One of the best examples is Snagit.


Snagit is a complete screen recording solution available for macOS and Windows. It lets you create rich screenshots and screencast videos and upload them directly to sharing platforms. For instance, if you want to create tutorial videos for your YouTube channel, you can count on Snagit. Because it is a dedicated tool, it may take up more resources.

You should consider this type of screenshot app if you want maximum flexibility and control over the screen videos you record. Of course, you may have to pay an extra charge for these tools. By the way, you should keep in mind that you can use CleanShot X for basic screen video recording.

  1. Third-party browser extensions

If you mostly deal with web browsers on Mac, you can also consider getting a web browser extension to take a screenshot on the device. Considering how powerful browser extensions are these days, you will not have trouble expanding the control to native screenshots, either.


More importantly, these web extensions offer advanced options for uploading and sharing screenshots with other platforms. For instance, you can upload the screenshots directly to an image-sharing website and copy the URL instantly.

Tip: Do you use Microsoft Office Suite programs on your Mac? In that case, you can use the built-in screenshot tool from these apps. So, if you want to capture a screenshot from a part of the Word or Excel document, you do not need a separate app. As you can guess, the built-in screenshot apps on Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access are optimized for the content you may prepare through these apps.

Method #5 Capture screenshots of MacBook Pro Touch Bar

Do you use a MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar? In that case, you can capture what is showing on the Touch Bar as well. You can use Command + Shift + 6 to capture a screenshot of the content on Touch Bar.


This method will help you if you want to show how something appears on the Touch Bar of a MacBook Pro.

What about screen videos?

As we mentioned above, you can use most of these screenshot apps to capture screen videos.

The best part? The native screenshot app on macOS lets you capture screen videos with ease. You don’t have to worry about additional payments. Alternatively, you can use QuickTime Player on your Mac to record the screen.

However, you should be ready to purchase additional tools if you want to get advanced editing/annotation tools. For instance, the videos you can create with the native screenshot app on macOS will not be as impressive as the ones you can create using tools like Snagit.


How to screenshot a selected area?

You can use a keyboard shortcut or the native Screenshot app to screenshot a selected area. Once you have launched the Screenshot app, click the Selected Area button and select the area that you want to capture. You can hit Capture to process the screenshot.

How to take a Mac screenshot without a keyboard?

If you want to take a Mac screenshot without a keyboard, you should use the native Screenshot app or one of the third-party screenshot apps. In either case, you can launch the tool using your mouse/trackpad and select the type of screenshot that you want to capture.

How to edit or annotate a Mac screenshot?

As we have said, once you have captured a screenshot, a floating thumbnail will appear. You can click this thumbnail to open the editing pane. This pane is powered by Preview and you can make simple edits or add a few annotations. Alternatively, you can use a third-party screenshot app like CleanShot X if you need extra editing/annotation options.

Where do screenshots go on Mac?

By default, the screenshots you capture on Mac will go to Desktop. However, in the native app and third-party apps, you will find an option to change this location. You can use this feature to prevent your desktop from being a jungle of random screenshots.


We have tried to make this guide as extensive as possible. So, we are almost sure that you found at least one way to take better screenshots on your Mac. However, make sure that you get a screenshot solution that is suitable for your requirements. It is always better than continuously upgrading whenever you get stuck.


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