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How to Take a Screenshot on a Mac Tutorial

How to Take a Screenshot on a MacBook

by Hung Nguyen

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Three simple methods to take a screenshot on your MacBook, using just three buttons.

Mac computers do not conveniently come with a PrtScn button that Windows users do. That, however, does not mean that taking a screenshot is a tedious task. As a matter of fact, it’s much more straightforward than you may think, using just a few buttons.

How to take a screenshot on a Mac - the entire screen

  1. Have your screen ready, of course.

  2. Press Command + Shift + 3.

  3. The screenshot will be saved on your desktop as a PNG file.

  4. The image’s name should be ‘Screen Shot + year + month + date at time AM or PM’.

  5. For example, ‘Screen Shot 2019-11-05 at 12.02.24 PM’.

Once you press and hold the three keyboard shortcuts, a snapshot will be taken of the whole screen, which will be saved as a PNG. If you are using two or more displays, full screenshots will be made for both monitors. If you do not do need to capture an entire screen, continue to read on, for how you can select a partial section of your screen.

How to take a partial screenshot on a Mac

  1. Again, have the screen ready as you’d like it

  2. Press Command + Shift + 4

  3. A crosshair will now appear to drag over the area you want to take.

  4. The area will be saved as a screenshot, in the same format mentioned above.


How to take a screenshot on a Mac - partial screen.

The second method is useful if you want only to choose a selected portion, whether it is to save an image online, or a snapshot of a video. Regardless, it’s quick, easy, and can be done using a few mouse buttons - via click and drag.

How to take a screenshot of a specific window on a Mac

  1. Have the window opened on your screen

  2. Press Command + Shift + 4

  3. Hold down the space bar.

  4. A camera icon should now appear.

  5. Select the window you’d like to take a screenshot.

And that covers all the three different methods of taking screenshots. Whether you want to drag to select an area to take a screenshot of on your Mac or select a specific Windows, it’s up to your preference. Image files on your desktop will all have the same naming convention for your convenience. It should be noted that the quality of the image taken will also depend on the type of monitor you have, i.e., retina display will have a higher pixel density. This case is applicable, especially for duel-screen users, and one should always use the original monitor to take screenshots on your MacBook.

Take screenshots on any Mac OS


Apple is constantly updating their software, but the methods to take screenshots on a Mac has remained the same. Whether you’ve upgraded to the newest version - Catalina, macOS Mojave, or are still sticking to Yosemite from half a decade back - the process remains the same. To check the version you are currently on, you can always click the Apple logo at the left corner of your screen and go to ‘About this Mac’ for more information.

Process your PNG screenshots


PNGs are great. They’re high-quality images that will capture pixel to pixel on your screen. However, for file transfers, they can get bulky. To resolve this, you can either convert it to a PDF or a JPG using our PDF converter - for your digital document needs. And lastly, as an image is in PDF format, there are more than a handful of tools you can check out on Smallpdf to help you modify, compress, our edit your files to your needs. Curious? Do check out our homepage and start playing around with the image converters. Otherwise, have fun taking screenshots, fellow Mac users!


Happy screenshotting! 📸

Hung Nguyen
Hung Nguyen
Senior Growth Marketing Manager @Smallpdf