How to use the Screenshot App on a Mac

Screenshots are easy to take, but there is probably still a lot for you to learn. This post covers how to use the Screenshot app on a Mac.

The Screenshot app is located in the Utilities folder inside the Applications folder on every Mac. You may also know that the keyboard shortcuts Command Shift 3 (⌘⇧3) and Command Shift 4 (⌘⇧4) will take a full or partial screenshot very quickly. But there is much more to the Screenshot app.

Starting at the beginning, what is a screenshot? A screenshot is a picture of either your entire screen, or a part of your screen. You may want to do this to save a copy of what you are looking at without trying to print it.

Screenshots on a Mac are pictures of the file type .PNG. You can edit them in Preview, import them to your Photos, or transform them to other file types such as .JPG. They can be saved or sent to someone via message or email for example.

Simple Screenshots

The easiest way to create a screenshot is to press the following three keys at the same time. Command, Shift and 3 (⌘ ⇧ 3). You will hear a sound like a camera shutter and depending on your settings, you may see a thumbnail of your picture in the lower right corner of the screen. On the desktop, will be a document entitled Screen Shot along with the date and time of the screenshot. Double click it to open, it will display using the Preview application.

If you don’t want a screenshot of the entire screen, you can use the keyboard shortcut of Command, Shift and 4 (⌘ ⇧ 4). Your cursor will turn into a crosshair with coordinates that change as you move it around the screen. When you have determined the area you want to take a picture of, click and hold the mouse button down in the UPPER LEFT corner of that area. Drag the cursor to the LOWER RIGHT corner of the area you want and release the mouse button. As you do this, a grey box will display around the area that will be in your picture.

When you release the button, you will hear the shutter signal and depending on your settings, you may see the thumbnail of the screenshot in the lower right corner of the screen. The screenshot will then be located on your desktop.

More Functionality in the Screenshot App

To try these things, you might want to drag the Screenshot app from your Utilities folder onto your doc. This makes it easier to access.

When you open the Screenshot app, you will see a control panel at the bottom of the screen. On the control panel there will be 5 types of screenshots to choose from.

  1. Entire Screen (Capture)
  2. Selected Window (Capture)
  3. Selected Portion (Capture)
  4. Record Entire Screen
  5. Record Selected Portion

If Selected Portion is highlighted, there will be a dotted line boxing a selection of the screen. This can be moved and resized to indicate the area you want to include in your screenshot.

Next to these choices, is a list of additional options and the CAPTURE button. At any time that your selection is ready, click on the CAPTURE button to take the screenshot. If you choose one of the Record options, this button will be RECORD and a screen recording will begin. To end the screen recording, open the Screenshot app and click on Stop Recording. Screen recordings are aptly names Screen Recording along with the date and time.

The options provided in the Screenshot app include additional locations for saving the screenshots. The Desktop is the default, but the documents folder as well as the clipboard and applications like Mail are provided. A timer is available for situations where a few seconds are needed to position the items being recorded or photographed. The small thumbnail of each screenshot can also be turned off, and the mouse pointed can be included or not in the screenshot.


Together these options provide a rich, easy to use application that will cover most needs for screenshots and screen recordings.

If you would like help with this process, just call or email and we’ll be happy to assist you! If you have specific questions, or if our terminology isn’t clear, please use our contact form to send us a message. Thank you!

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