How to Take a Screenshot on a Mac

In the age of ephemeral communication, you need the receipts. Screenshots act as digital proof of what’s been said and done. They’re also a convenient way to capture, save, and send information to yourself and to your friends.

You probably already know how to take one. But do you know all the ways to do it? Here’s a primer on capturing screenshots on a Mac.

Entire Screen Shot

You’re watching West World on your laptop and Dolores is making a particularly fierce facial expression that you want to savor forever. This is a perfect time to take a screenshot of your whole computer screen. Press Command, then Shift, then 3. The image of your entire screen will be saved to your computer’s desktop. Use it to make the Dolores meme of your dreams.

Window Shot

Maybe you don’t want your whole screen, but a specific window open on your desktop. Hold down Command + Shift + 4, and then press space. Your cursor will turn into a little camera icon. With this activated, any window you hover over will turn gray; the entire window or application will appear in your screenshot. Click on the window you want to capture.

Selection Shot

You’re planning to see the Incredibles 2 at your local movie theater, but you and your date haven’t decided on a showtime. Instead of texting the movie times one by one, send your date a screenshot. You don’t need to send them the whole window, and you definitely don’t need to send them the whole screen. You want a cropped image that centers the Incredibles 2 showtimes. Press Command + Shift + 4, and a marquee selection tool will appear. Click and drag to highlight the selection you need. When you release, the selected area will be saved to your desktop.

Copy to Clipboard

If you just need a shot for immediate copy-and-paste purposes—not something you want to save to your desktop—add the Control button into the mix. For screenshot of the entire screen, you’ll press Command + Shift + Control and then 3. This will copy the screenshot to your clipboard instead of saving it to your desktop. When you’re ready to paste it, hit Command + V.

Use Preview

You can also take screenshots through the Preview Application. Open Preview, and from the File dropdown menu, hover over Take Screenshot. From there choose to capture a screenshot of a Selection, Window, or Entire Screen. Once it’s been taken, the image appears in preview. With Preview, you can change the automatic PNG format to JPEG, PDF and more.

Full Page Screen Capture

Sometimes you want to capture an entire webpage to save an article or story. This can be especially useful if you’re about to be without internet for a while. The Chrome extension, Full Page Screen Capture, lets you do just that. Download the extension for free from the Chrome web store. It’s icon will appear as a little camera in the top right corner of the page. Go to the page you’d like to save and simply click that icon when you’re ready to save it. From there, you’ll be given the option to save it in PNG format as an image, or PDF format as a file.

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