How to Take Better Screenshots on Mac OS with 6 Pro Tips & Tricks Guide

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Anyone who takes a lot of screenshots in Mac OS X knows the challenges involved; how quickly the desktop fills with different PNG files, sort them into folders or just throw them elsewhere, convert screenshots to another image format, copy them to the clipboard to paste to another application, cut them to size, or anything else needed before the screenshots are in their final usable format.

In addition to the standard tips and keyboard shortcuts, we’ll cover some more advanced methods to improve the screen capture experience in OS X, including setting a designated folder to save them all automatically, changing the image format self-recorded, taking challenging screenshots. with a timer, click the cursor and a nice trick to move after placing it on the screen. These 5 tricks will help you take better screenshots in Mac OS X and apply to standard screen capture methods except the timer, which requires a special feature outside of the usual keyboard shortcuts.

A quick overview the two main screen shortcuts that these tips apply tofor those less familiar with:

  • Command + Shift + 3 – Click on the full screenshot and save it to your desktop as a file named “Screen Shot” followed by the date
  • Command + Shift + 4 – Makes the cursor into a draggable checkbox on the screen to snap to rectangular objects, and also saves to the desktop as a file

There are actually a lot of other keyboard shortcuts for taking screenshots in OS X, but they’re better covered elsewhere because they can’t all be applied to the tips here.

1: Create and set the named screen folder

Tired of the clutter on your desk? Me too, and the solution is simple: make a designated folder for screenshots and then set it as the new default screenshot destination. I suggest you create a subfolder in the ~/Pictures/ directory called Screenshots and set it as the new default location for all screenshots with the following default command:

default to write location com.apple.screencapture ~/Images/Screenshots/

To do this, restart SystemUIServer to apply the changes:

killall SystemUIServer

To test it by taking a screenshot, it will now save directly to the Screenshots folder instead of the desktop.

2: Change the image file format of the screen image

PNG files tend to be large and bloated, and not the most web-friendly; if your screenshot is for the web, you can significantly reduce the file size and avoid batch converting images by changing the default screenshot file type to another image format:

default type com.apple.screencapture type jpg

Restart SystemUIServer JPG as a new file type to reset:

killall SystemUIServer

Take a screenshot to confirm. You can also GIF, TIF, PDF, or revert back to PNG if you want the default setting again. Choose the format that suits your needs, which can prevent you from converting a huge group of images after taking them.

3: Take impossible screenshots with the self-timer

The Grab application is launched in / Applications / Utilities / and you can take screenshots with a timer to capture things that would otherwise be impossible, such as some menu buttons, system events, and splash screen.

  • Pull down the “Capture” menu and select “Scheduled Display”

The default grab setting is 10 seconds, if you need to set another delay, use Terminal instead:

screenshot -T 3 bollyinside.jpg

Replace “3” with how many seconds you want for the time delay.

4: Capture the mouse pointer or custom cursor in the screenshots

The Grab app mentioned above has a handy feature that lets you display the pointer in screenshots, and can be customized from several pointer types. Here’s how to use it:

  • In Grab, open Options and select the type of cursor you want.
  • Take a shot with Grab to capture the mouse cursor

Show cursor as screenshots

5: Remove drop shadows from window screens

By default, OS X’s drop shadows are included behind window-centered screenshots (not full-screen captures), but they can be disabled with a simple write default command used in a terminal, turn it on, and type the following commands to cast shadows. from:

default type com.apple.screencapture disable-shadow -bool true

Press Enter and kill SystemUIServer to apply the changes:

killall SystemUIServer

Exit the terminal and take the screenshot as usual, now it’s shadow free and looks a bit like this:

Shot without shadow

This can easily be compiled by compiling the same command and setting “true” to “false” and then killing SystemUIServer again to re-enable wundowshadows.

6: Move the selected area from the original position

Command + Shift + 4 lets you take a screenshot of the checkbox, but have you ever wanted to move it around after dragging the checkbox? You can.

  • Press Command + Shift + 4 to draw the screen checkbox as usual, then press SPACEBAR and click to draw the screen

screen checkbox

I’ve never heard of this, but CultOfMac found this great trick, join them!

Do you have any other skills to take better screenshots? Let us know in the comments.

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