It’s possible to snap a screenshot using keyboard shortcuts on any current Mac, and if you’ve got a MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar, there’s even a fourth option. To make it simple to save, erase, and mark up screenshots, MacOS includes a number of handy features.
It’s worth noting that Apple just released a new 13-inch MacBook Pro with a new M2 chip, and that a new MacBook Air with a similar M2 chip is on the way.
Method 1: Cmd-Shift-3
A whole screenshot can be taken with a simple keyboard shortcut.
Method 2: Cmd-Shift-4
You can pick an area of your screen to record by dragging the crosshair you create with this keyboard combination. Let go of the mouse or trackpad button to fire the shot.
After pressing Cmd-Shift-4, you can choose from a variety of alternative options:
A little camera symbol appears when you press and release the spacebar. You can move it over any open window. A screenshot can be taken by clicking on the selected window. It is possible to take a screenshot with a white border around the window and a drop shadow.
In order to avoid accidentally releasing the mouse or trackpad, press and hold the spacebar after dragging to highlight an area. The selecting area is fixed in size and shape, but it can be repositioned anywhere on the screen. The spacebar can be used to reposition your initial selection region before you release the mouse button to take a screenshot.
The Shift key locks in all sides of the crosshair selection region except the bottom border, allowing you to move your mouse down or up to position it. This is useful after highlighting an area with a dragging motion, but before releasing the mouse button or trackpad.
Release the Shift key and press it again to move the right border of your selection area without releasing the mouse button. While using the Shift key, you can alternate between manipulating the bottom and right edges of the mouse or touchpad.
Method 3: Cmd-Shift-5
When you press Cmd-Shift-5, a little window appears at the bottom of your screen with all of your screen capture options. To take a screenshot of the complete screen, you can press one of the three buttons on the bottom of the screen.
In the same way, the two video-recording buttons allow you to capture either the full screen or a specific area of it. You can exit the screenshot panel by pressing the X button on the left or press the Escape key.
You may access additional options by clicking the Options button on the right. A 5- or 10-second delay allows you to line up elements that could otherwise disappear when you use your screenshot tool. It also lets you pick where to store your screenshot — Desktop, Documents, Clipboard, Mail, Messages, Preview or Other Location.
A small preview thumbnail of the screenshot you just took is displayed in the lower-right corner of your screen by default, similar to how screenshots are displayed on iOS devices. On your Mac, as opposed to your iPhone, you can disable the preview thumbnail. Finally, you can display your mouse pointer in a video or image.
If the screenshot panel is obstructing your view, you can drag it to a new location by grabbing its left border.
Bonus for Touch Bar MacBooks: Cmd-Shift-6
Also, you can capture a screenshot of what’s now appearing on the Touch Bar if you’re using an older 15-inch or 16-inch MacBook Pro or a current 13-inch MacBook Pro (the last one to have it). To snap a screenshot of your Touch Bar that is both broad and thin, press Cmd-Shift-6 on your keyboard.
If you choose the Floating Thumbnail, you’ll be able to quickly annotate your screenshots with the Markup tools. You can either swipe the Floating Thumbnail away or let it fall away on its own, and it will be stored to the location where you saved a screenshot before. Floating Thumbnails can be clicked to open a preview window with all of the markup tools you receive in Preview.
Selecting the Floating Thumbnail will allow you to:
- Use your desktop, Documents, or the clipboard to save the snapshot
- Use Mail, Messages, Preview, or Photos to see it in action.
- Delete from the Finder
- The Markup preview window described earlier can be opened to see the document
- This is when we come to an end of (and save)
The Cmd-Shift-5 shortcut may be unfamiliar to long-time Mac screenshotters, but I find myself using it more for the ability to annotate screenshots without having to open Preview, and to rapidly remove screenshots that I know I messed up right away. The 5-second and 10-second delay settings are also welcome additions.