Screen-Capture Keystrokes

If you’re reading a chapter about printing and graphics, you may someday be interested in creating screenshots—printable illustrations of the Mac screen.

Screenshots are a staple of articles, tutorials, and books about the Mac (including this one). The Mac has a secret built-in feature that lets you make them—and includes some very cool conveniences. Here’s how to capture various regions of the screen.

The Whole Screen

Press Shift-⌘-3 to create a picture file on your desktop, in PNG format, that depicts the entire screen image. A satisfying camera-shutter sound tells you that you were successful. Each time you press Shift-⌘-3, you get another file on your desktop.

These files are named after the current time and date. They’re called “Screen shot 2015-01-18 at 5.18.13 PM,” “Screen shot 2015-01-18 at 5.18.32 PM,” and so on.

You can open these files into Preview or any other graphics program, in readiness for editing, printing, or exporting in a different format.


It doesn’t have to be Shift-⌘-3. You can change this keystroke, or any of these screenshot keystrokes, to anything you like. Open System Preferences→Keyboard→Keyboard Shortcuts→Screen Shots. Click the keystroke you want to change, press Return to highlight the current keyboard combo, and then press the new keystroke you prefer.

One Section of the Screen

You can capture just a rectangular region of the screen by pressing Shift-⌘-4. Your cursor turns into a crosshairs with two tiny digital readouts—the horizontal ...

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