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Mac OS X screen capture tips

March 2, 2008

Creating a screen capture of part or all of the screen with OS X is pretty straightforward once you know what keys to press. Here’s a quick rundown:

OS X screen capture keystrokes

  • Command-Shift-3: takes a screen capture of the entire screen
  • Command-Shift-4: allows you to select the area of the screen to capture
  • Command-Shift-4 [release] Space : allows you to take a screen capture of an application window

Each of the above commands creates a screen capture of the desired area and places it on your desktop. If you prefer to take a screen capture which you can paste into a document, email, chat (etc.), just hold down the Control key in addition to the keystrokes above. The screen capture will be put onto the clipboard instead of saved in a file to your desktop.

Changing OS X screen capture file type

The default file type for screen captures is PNG. If you prefer a different format, it can easily be changed:

  1. Open a Terminal window
  2. Type the following line:
    defaults write com.apple.screencapture type jpg

The above Terminal command will change the screen capture file format to JPEG format the next time you log in. Available screen capture file format options include:

  • gif
  • jpg
  • tiff
  • pdf
  • psd
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Gonzalo Escribano

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