Mac Os – Keyboard Shortcut To Take Screenshots & Change Default Screenshot Image Format In Mac OS

If you are new to Mac OS X, then you will find it difficult to take a screenshot of an application or your desktop. This is because Macs do not have a ‘Print Screen’ button, which people who use Windows are used to having on their keyboards. Well, I have good news for you, its actually much easier to take a screenshot on Mac OS X than in Windows, and I will show you how.

Mac OS X offers you several key combinations/shortcuts to take screenshots, and then directly saves the given screenshot to a file on your desktop. Thus, you don’t need to open an external application such as MS Paint on Windows, then paste it, and then save the image.

To take a screenshot, just press –

  1. Cmd + Shift + 3 – This instantly snaps your whole current screen and saves an image of it to your desktop. You will see your screen flash (similar to a camera flash) and hear a flash click, which will confirm that your screenshot has been saved.
  2. Cmd + Shift + 4 – This shortcut changes your mouse cursor into a crosshair, which you can then drag to define a region of your choice, which will be snapped, and saved as an image to your desktop.
  3. Cmd + Shift + 4 + Space – This is just an extension of the previous utility. Your cursor first changes to a crosshair, then changes to a camera. You can now simply click on any application window, to take a complete snapshot of that particular window, irrespective of its size compared to the screen. This is probably the most useful shortcut of the 3.

I took some sample screenshots to show you the difference –

1) Cmd + Shift + 3

2) Cmd + Shift + 4

3) Cmd + Shift + 4 + Space

Now depending on which version of Mac OS X you are using, the images saved on your desktop may be jpg, pdf, png or tiff. Luckily, this can be customized easily on Mac OS X. All you need to do is change the default setting by running a simple command.

To do this, you need to launch You can find it in Applications >> Utilities. Just copy/paste the following command into the terminal, and then press enter.

defaults write type image_format

where image_format is the desired output image format, which could be any of jpg, tiff, pdf, png, bmp or pict (amongst others).

After you do this, just log out and log in again. Now try taking a screenshot, it should be saved on the desktop in your desired format.

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