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OS X Tip: How to take Screenshots in OS X

I use screenshots constantly on my Macbook Air. It has become a normal workflow in my everyday workflows. I use it for work and for Macdaily, I use it for friends, for teaching and much more. It’s amazes me how many people out there don’t know the beauty that is hidden under the covers of OS X.
Screenshots are built right into OS X by using a few simple keyboard shortcuts.

Its a simple combo and you have a great image right from your screen. Check out the keyboard shortcuts below.

You can use any of the commands below to take screenshots of any running app or backgrounds, saving directly to your desktop

  • Command+Shift+3: takes a screenshot of the full screen or screens
  • Command+Shift+4: brings up a selection icon so you can call out an area to take a screenshot of (my most used!)
  • Command+Shift+4, then spacebar, then click a window: takes a screenshot of a window only
  • Command+Control+Shift+3: take a screenshot of the entire screen (screens if multiple monitors), and saves it to the clipboard
  • Command+Control+Shift+4, then select an area: takes a screenshot of selection and saves it to the clipboard
  • Command+Control+Shift+4, then space, then click a window: takes a screenshot of a window and saves it to the clipboard

It really is that simple.

By default the images saved or copied are .png files. While the quality is always fantastic the size of the files are also fantastically large.

Someone was thinking of us all and we can actually change the type of file it saves to easily.

You can change the default file extension by opening up terminal and entering a single line command. Most of the popular image formats are supported including PNG, PDF, GIF, TIFF, and JPG. Macdaily usually utilizes jpg files to cut down on page load times. We are always thinking about you, our beloved readers!

Here is how you go about changing the default settings from .png to the extension of choice.

  1. Open the terminal. You can use Command + Space to bring up Spotlight and then type in “Terminal”.
  2. Copy and Paste the following into your Terminal session:  defaults write com.apple.screencapture type jpg and press enter.
  3. Then type: killall SystemUIServer and press enter. This will restart the SystemUIServer, for the change to take effect.
  4. You should now be able to use the above commands to save a screenshot off to the file format you just selected.

It’s that easy! So what are you waiting for?!?

[HT – Macrumors and OS X Daily]

About Matthew Snider

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4 Replies

  1. I use screenshots alot too. Glad to learn of the shortcuts for copying direct to the clipboard and how to change the default filetype to jpg. Any idea why that isn’t already the default?

  2. […] that I feel has been a bit clunky in the past. Recently I had shared with you a few tips on taking screen shots in Mac OS X. This is a workflow that between work and here at Macdaily, I use multiple times a day. I have […]

  3. Bruce Trotter

    Tried to change to pdf format using those terminal commands and Preview still saves as png. Using OSX10.8.3.

    1. I made the change on 8.4 so it definitely should work as this worked on Lion also.

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