How to make better screen capture selections in macOS


Taking screenshots of parts of your Mac's screen can be a valuable tool when you try to remember settings or a sequence of actions or explain them to someone else. I know I'm a weirdo as a technology writer, since I'm constantly capturing pieces of a screen to write these columns. But my correspondence with readers for many years reveals that many of you also use integrated screen capture tools (and at some times, from third parties).

Also over many years, Macworld has covered the basics and advanced features, but Apple has continued to make fun of how the screenshots work, so here is a fairly complete update that includes some secrets that I only learned a few days ago On twitter.

In macOS 10.14 Mojave, Apple got rid of the long-lasting Grab application, a utility captured on the screen with several features beyond what it could handle with the keystrokes. Instead, it integrated most of those features into a new shortcut. From the keyboard you can now press:

  • Command-Shift-3: capture all active screens as separate files.

  • Command-Shift-4: Capture a selection that you drag to define.

  • Command-Shift-5: Capture a selection, window, menu or screen, record a video or modify the screen capture settings.

  • Command-Shift-6: Capture the touch bar on Macs so equipped.

Add the Control key while pressing Command-Shift-3 or -4, and the screenshot is copied to the Clipboard instead of being saved to your unit. You can paste that into any image editor, such as Preview or Pixelmator. (Use Command-Shift-5 and click Options to change the storage locations of all subsequent screenshots; destinations include the Clipboard.)

Read about how to use macOS markup tools in captures and how to stop the appearance of floating preview.

Command-Shift-4 (also available through Command-Shift-5 as click on Capture Selected Portion) is one of the most flexible tools, although its options are mostly hidden.

You can capture a menu by clicking on it, pressing Command-Shift-4 and then moving the cross icon over it. Capture a window by first pressing the key and then moving the sight over it. In both cases, finally press the space bar to highlight the item you want. Click on the item or press Enter or Enter to capture.

You can also press Command-Shift-4, drag a rectangle and then press one of the following modifiers to change the selection while holding down the mouse or touchpad button:


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here