How To Take A Screenshot By Pressing Three Keys


Taking screenshots is a good way to get your point across or show something to someone else. Some people download whole screenshot applications to do the job, but there’s a three key shortcut, shown in the image above! I use this technique myself to get all of the images you see in this blog.

To start the short-cut process, just press:

Cmd & Shift & 4

When you press these keys all at once, you don’t immediately get a screenshot. Your mouse pointer changes to a crosshair (+) and you need to click and drag the area you want to take a screenshot of:


Make sure to hold the mouse button down while dragging out the area, otherwise it won’t work!

While you are dragging, you’ll notice the size of the screenshot appears next to the cursor at all times. This can be useful if you need to make the screenshot a particular size. It can even be useful as a quick and easy way of measuring things that are you on your screen (you can always delete the resulting screenshot!)

Once you let go of the mouse button, the screenshot is written to your desktop as a PNG file. This can be used directly on Web pages or sent via e-mail, or you can load it into Preview to convert it to other formats (such as JPEG or GIF).

To cancel taking a screenshot, press escape while the crosshair cursor is visible

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Comments (6)

An addendum to this tip: If after you’ve hit command-shift-4 you press the space bar your pointer turns into a camera icon. Move this icon over a window and click to take a screenshot of just that window. No selecting necessary.

Bruce A — February 16th, 2008

Um, I can’t believe you’ve posted about taking screenshots without mentioning the key combo to take a fullscreen screenshot & also mentioning which does all this without having to remember the key combo’s.

⌘⇧3 or cmd-shift-3 is the combo for taking a fullscreen shot. And is located in /Applications/Utilities/.

Caius Durling — March 28th, 2008

That’s true, but I like to remember just one key press that can do everything (that is, you can still do a fullscreen with Cmd-Shift-4, it’s just harder.) Considering how bad I am at remembering keypresses, having just one single option to do everything works out pretty well.

Peter Cooper — March 28th, 2008

Hi There,

This is amazing, I never knew I could take screenshots like this, I knew about the but this is so much quicker.

I am trying to figure out how to take a screenshot of an entire webpage, not just what I see on the screen, but the hidden stuff too, you know - when the stuff when you have to scroll down to read it -

I’m not so good at explaining, but you know what I mean? I want a screenshot of everything visible on a website in that window basically.

Does this make sense?

Do you know how to do this? Is there an app I need to get in order to do this or do you have a better shortcut?

I’ve been longing to figure this out.

Kind regards,


Nicolas — August 21st, 2008

Nicolas: There’s an app called Paparazzi that will do just that :) Glad you find it useful!

Peter Cooper — August 21st, 2008

Try out Preview.
It’s part of OS-X.
Open Preview (if you can’t find it, do a Opt-Cmd-Spacebar, then go looking for “”)
In Preview’s menu, click File.
First on the list is “New from Clipboard.”
Very handy, that one. Whatever pic you’ve got sitting in RAM, make it a pic by clicking on “New from Clipboard.”
Save it in a variety of formats….

Farther down the FILE menu option, notice “Grab.”
3 screenshooting options in there:
SELECTION: A crosshair shows up. Click ‘N drag to rectangle-in what ya want. Pic size numbers show up while you’re doing it, which is handy. Let go of the left mouse button after dragging the rect, & a saveable pic shows up. With the pic onscreen, click on File/Save As… & save it any 1 of 11 formats, including a high-res (& BIG) TIFF file, BMP, JPG, GIF, a few others, or even as an Adobe PDF file.
WINDOW: Ya get a camera showing up instead of a cross-hair (same as Cmd-Shift-4, then Spacebar). Takes a pic of the current window. Save it as whatever….
TIMED SCREEN: A whole-screen screenshot. Click it, ya got several seconds to get things in order, & bingo-bango, ya gots a pic.

I like Preview. Pretty handy & simple little gizmo to get those many basic image things done. Does have some pretty good basic image correction tools too, including my fave Gamma, with which one can give an underexposed pic or a shot done during the dark-dusk time of twilightnite daytime-like clarity.

For other sorts of screenshots I like using “InstantShot!.” This is one of those freebie apps where ya just REALLY wanna send the developer some bucks, ’cause it’s so simple & so worthwhile & built with others; i.e., the future user, in mind as far as ease-of-use is concerned. Menubar-available. Nice…. Check it out:

Another one of those freebie-I-gotta-send-the-guy(or gal)-some-moola apps: Jumpcut, by Steve Cook. Veryvery simple but *SO* handy thing to have. If you’re a texthead like me, you GOTTA try out this creation from Steve Cook. Every single text “Copy” or “Cut” ya do goes into Jumpcut’s menubar-available list. Configure it to store up to 40 individual items. Text amount per item # is not an issue… Keep Chapters 1,2 & 3 of War & Peace as item #’s 1, 2 & 3. Copy yer friend’s new email address, & a week later click it in the list, it shows up again **wherever** your mouse cursor is at. VERY handy gizmo. [Nice job, Steve!] Check it out here:

(I LOVE opensource stuff… Those kinds of apps & utils are made by people just ’cause they LOVE doing it. Therefore, quality is very high.)

Happy Mac’ing!

TiBook 867MHz G4/40GB/1GB/Sonnet Aria Extreme PCMCIA wireless card for close-in + Edimax EW-7318USg wireless USB for far-out/OSX v4.11/VPC v6.2 running Win2000Pro (the best combo - almost as fast as native Win2000!)

Kevin — December 7th, 2008

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