How to Take a Screenshot on MacBook: A Comprehensive Guide


Have you ever needed to capture what’s on your MacBook screen, whether it be for work or personal use? Being able to take screenshots can come in handy for a variety of reasons, and fortunately, Apple has made it an easy process. In this article, we will explore different methods for taking screenshots on a MacBook and troubleshooting tips for when things don’t quite go as planned.

Method 1: Using Keyboard Shortcuts

The first and easiest method for taking a screenshot on a MacBook is by using a keyboard shortcut. There are two ways to do this: capture the entire screen or a selected area.

Entire Screen:
To capture the entire screen, simply hold down the Command (⌘) + Shift (⇧) + 3 keys at the same time. When you hear a camera shutter sound, the screenshot has been taken. You can find the capture on your desktop labeled ‘Screen Shot (date and time).png’.

Selected Area:
To capture a specific area, hold down the Command (⌘) + Shift (⇧) + 4 keys at the same time. Your cursor will change into a crosshair and allow you to select the area you want to capture by dragging it over the desired area. Once you let go of the mouse or trackpad, the screenshot will be taken and saved on your desktop labeled ‘Screen Shot (date and time).png’.

Method 2: Using the Screenshot App

Another efficient way to take a screenshot on a MacBook is by using the built-in Screenshot app. Here’s how to get started:

Opening the Screenshot App:
You can quickly access the Screenshot app by searching for it in the Spotlight search (click on the magnifying glass at the top right of your desktop screen or press Command (⌘) + Spacebar) or opening it in Launchpad.

Different Types of Screenshots:
The Screenshot app offers several types of screen captures that can be helpful for various purposes. Here are some examples:

  • Timed: This feature allows you to schedule a screenshot to be taken at a specific time.
  • Window: This feature captures a screenshot of a specific window that you select on your screen.
  • Menu: This feature captures a screenshot of a dropdown menu when it is open.

Take a Screenshot with the Screenshot App:
Once you have opened the app, select your desired screenshot type, and then click on the ‘Capture’ button. The resulting screen capture will be available to edit or save. By default, the screenshot will be saved on your desktop.

Keyboard Shortcuts for Advanced Users

For advanced users, there are additional keyboard shortcuts available that can enhance your screenshot-taking experience and workflow. Here are some of the most useful ones to remember:

  • Command (⌘) + Control (⌃) + Shift (⇧) + 3: Save the screenshot to the clipboard instead of the desktop.
  • Command (⌘) + Control (⌃) + Shift (⇧) + 4: Capture a selected area and save it to the clipboard instead of the desktop.
  • Command (⌘) + Shift (⇧) + 5: Open the Screenshot app.
  • Option (⌥) + Spacebar: Change the cursor to the camera icon, so you can capture a selected window.

Editing and Saving Screenshots

Once you’ve taken a screenshot, you may want to edit or save it in a different format. The easiest way to edit a screenshot on a MacBook is by using the built-in Preview app. Here’s how:

Edit a Screenshot with Preview:
1. Click on the screenshot you want to edit
2. Right-click and select ‘Open With Preview’
3. In Preview, you can modify the screenshot by cropping it, adding text, or highlighting specific content. Once you’re done, click on ‘File’ and select ‘Save’ or ‘Export as’ to save it in your desired format.

Saving a Screenshot in Different Formats:
When you’re saving a screenshot, you have different format options to choose from such as PNG, JPEG, TIFF, or BMP. Here’s how to save it in a different format:
1. Click on the screenshot you want to save
2. Right-click and select ‘Change Name and Extension’
3. Choose the format you want to save it in and click ‘Save’

You also have the option to change the location where the screenshot is saved. Use the ‘Save to’ dropdown menu, and browse to the folder you want, then click on ‘Save’.

Third-Party Apps for Taking Screenshots

While the built-in functions for taking screenshots on a MacBook offer all of the basic functionality needed, there are several third-party apps available that can help you take your screenshot game to the next level. Here are some of the most popular and unique options to consider:

Snagit: This app offers a range of video and image capturing tools that are easy to use, including scrolling screen capture and markup features.

Lightshot: This app is known for its ability to blur out specific sections of the screen and highlight text with different colors, making it ideal for highlighting important content.

Troubleshooting Tips

Even with the easiest processes, things can sometimes go wrong. Here are a couple of scenarios to help you troubleshoot and fix common screenshot issues.

Problem: The screenshot is not saving.
Solution: Verify your MacBook has sufficient storage space. If you still have this issue, try restarting the MacBook and attempt again.

Problem: The keyboard shortcuts are not working.
Solution: Verify that the keyboard shortcut that you are using is the correct one for what you’re trying to capture. If the issue still persists, restart your MacBook, and try to take a screenshot again.


Taking screenshots on a MacBook can be very helpful and done more efficiently. With easy-to-use keyboard shortcuts, the Screenshot app, different types of screenshots you can take, editing features, and third-party apps, you have the right options to modify your screen captures the way you need. With this guide, taking a screenshot on your MacBook no longer has to be a daunting task.

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