January 2, 2016

Change Mac OS X Screenshot File Format, Location, And Other Tips

First, a little refresher on how to grab a screenshot in Mac OS X.

  • Press: Command + Shift + 3 to grab a screenshot of the whole screen.
  • Press: Command + Shift + 4 to grab a screenshot of a portion of the screen by dragging a crosshair marker (that displays screen coordinates), and drawing a box around the section of the screen you want to capture.



By default, Mac OS X saves screenshots in PNG format, which works well for most purposes. However, did you know you can change the default file format to BMP, GIF, JPG, PDF and TIFF?

To change the screenshot file format, type this command in Terminal, replacing “jpg” with your format of choice (bmp,gif,jpg,pds,tiff).

defaults write com.apple.screencapture type jpg


You may need to issue this command as well (although I have not found it necessary):

killall SystemUIServer



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When you want to grab a screenshot of a specific application window, instead of using Command + Shift + 4 to draw a box around it, you can instead do this.

1. Press Command + Shift +4 to reveal the crosshair marker.

2. Press the Space bar. The marker will change to a camera icon.

3. Move the camera icon and hover it over the window you want to take a screenshot of. That window will now be highlighted.

4. Click (or tap) to take a screenshot of the highlighted window.



You can also change the default location for screenshots.

1. Create a folder for screenshots. For this example, I created a folder called “Screenshots” on my Desktop.


2. Open Terminal and type the following command but DON’T hit Return yet!

defaults write com.apple.screencapture location


3. Make sure there is a space after “location” in the command and then drag and drop the “Screenshots” folder onto the Terminal window (or alternatively you can manually type the location of the folder) and then hit Return (Enter).


4. You might also have to enter this command as well to get the changes to apply.

killall SystemUIServer

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