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Print Screen on Mac OS X

Contrary to what many people believe, there is a built-in printscreen function in Mac OSX. It requires a couple more clicks than the Windows equivalent but it has more options readily available. There is no print screen button—the task is achieved by a combination of keystrokes.

First, switch to the screen you want to take a capture from. Then select one of the following three options...

(1) To capture the entire screen

This is the quickest and easiest method. Use one of these options:

Cmd-Shift-3 Capture screen to PNG file.
Ctrl-Cmd-Shift-3 Copy screen to clipboard.

When you release the keys, the capture is taken and either copied to the clipboard or saved to a file, depending on the keystroke combination you used.

(2) To capture a selected area

Use one of these options:

Cmd-Shift-4 Capture selected area to PNG file.
Ctrl-Cmd-Shift-4 Copy selected area to clipboard.

The cursor changes to a + sign. Click and drag the cursor to make a rectangle to be captured. When you release the mouse, the capture is taken.

(3) To capture an application window

  1. Press either Cmd-Shift-4 (to save as a file) or Ctrl-Cmd-Shift-4 (to copy to clipboard). The cursor changes to a + sign.
  2. Before clicking anything, hit the space bar. The cursor changes to a camera.
  3. Click the application window. The capture is taken.

Change the folder for saving print screen files

If you want the screen grabs to be saved somewhere other than the desktop:

  1. Open Finder and go to Applications > Utilities. Double-click Terminal to launch it.
  2. Type the command below (changing the path to the location of the desired folder) and hit the Return key:
defaults write com.apple.screencapture location /path/to/folder
  1. Then type the following command and hit the Return key again:
kill SystemUIServer

That should do it.

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