Mac Tip: Master the Screencap Function

Every once in a while you need the screen capture function, maybe it’s because you can’t download an image from flickr but still want it in your library or you need to record your workflow for a tutorial. Whatever the reason, Mac OSX offers two simple shortcuts to grab a screenshot. The first one makes a simple fullscreen shot. Just use the combination “apple+shift+3“. It should save it as png on your desktop. At least those were my default settings. It even makes a nice shutter sound.

The second shortcut is what makes it interesting. Clicking “apple+shift+4” gives you a little crosshair which lets you draw a rectangle of the screen portion you want grab. It works exactly like the Marquee tool in Photoshop. Once you’ve started your selection you can release the keys (not the mouse click) and

  • hold ALT to draw from center
  • hold SHIFT to constrain height or width (depending on your next mouse movement)
  • hold SPACE to move the current selection

Once you’ve released the mouse you’ve got a perfectly cropped picture. This technique saved me already quite some time and we all know how precious time is in a designer’s life.

Written by Franz Jeitz

Franz Jeitz is a freelance designer and owner of Fudgegraphics. Originally from Luxembourg he now lives in London. Franz loves design, music and is a tea enthusiast. Follow him on Twitter.

Join the Discussion:

5 Awesome Responses so far
  1. Armando (Caracas, Venezuela) July 22nd, 2008

    Holding SHIFT + 4 + APPLE + SPACE BAR you can take a snapshot of the window your using at the moment (browser or app) or the one behind or the one behind that… just place the camera icon on the window you need (even if you only can see just a little corner)

  2. Thanks a lot for the tip Armando. I didn’t know that shortcut.

  3. Another method to Armando’s shortcut is to press the spacebar after you’ve released Cmd-Shift-4. It’s a bit easier than pressing them all together. Also, the spacebar acts as a toggle, so you can turn the little camera icon on and off. This tool also allows you to capture just about any element of the screen, from the entire dock, to individual dock icons, to menus, to your entire menu bar, and more!

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  5. thanks

    great tutorial
    very useful

    best regards

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