How to Take Screenshots on macOS Sierra

Taking screenshots on macOS Sierra is a pretty common task, especially when blogging or trying to quickly capture an application’s view. This post describes three different ways of how you can take screenshots on macOS Sierra. In addition, you can either have macOS Sierra save them to a file or to the clipboard memory.

Taking a screenshot on macOS Sierra of the Entire Screen

You can take a screenshot of the entire screen –of the current desktop on all monitors– and save it to a file, by pressing the key combination:

Command-Shift-3

Your screenshot(s) will be saved to a PNG fileor multiple files, one for each monitor– and placed on the desktop. The file name format is screenshot 2019-02-15 at 10.43.02 PM. In the below example, two files were created since I was using two monitors.

Saving Screenshot on macOS Sierra of Entire Screen to File
Saving Screenshot on macOS Sierra of Entire Screen to File

Alternatively, you can take a screenshot of the entire screen –of the current desktop on all monitors– and save it to the clipboard. Use the key combination:

Command-Control-Shift-3

You can then paste the screenshot from your clipboard into another application such as Adobe Photoshop or Microsoft PowerPoint by using the key combination:

Command-V
Pasting a Screenshot on macOS Sierra from the Clipboard to Microsoft PowerPoint
Pasting a Screenshot on macOS Sierra from the Clipboard to Microsoft PowerPoint

Taking a screenshot on macOS Sierra of a Selected Screen Area

You can take a screenshot of a selected screen area and save it to a file. Use the key combination:

Command-Shift-4

A cross-hair cursor will be shown and allow you to click, hold and drag to select a screen area to save as a screenshot to file when releasing the mouse button. In the below example, a portion of the desktop was saved to a PNG file.

Saving a Screenshot on macOS Sierra of a Selected Screen Area to File
Saving a Screenshot on macOS Sierra of a Selected Screen Area to File

You can take a screenshot of a selected screen area and save it to the clipboard. Use the key combination:

Command-Control-Shift-4

Again, a cross-hair cursor will be shown and allow you to click, hold and drag to select a screen area to save as a screenshot to the clipboard when releasing the mouse button.

Taking a screenshot on macOS Sierra of the current Window

You can take a screenshot of the current window –that is, a window that currently has the focus and save it to a file. Use the key combination:

Command-Shift-4 then press space

By default, macOS Sierra adds a shadow to the screenshot as shown in the example below. Here, I opened the screenshot image with Apple’s Preview and the shadow can be seen around the image. You can crop it but that would be a tedious thing to do for many screenshots.

Saving a Screenshot on macOS Sierra of the Current Window to File - With Default Shadow
Saving a Screenshot on macOS Sierra of the Current Window to File – With Default Shadow

To prevent macOS Sierra from adding a shadow, open a terminal window and run the following command.

defaults write com.apple.screencapture disable-shadow -bool true ; killall SystemUIServer

With this setting disabled, macOS Sierra will not add a shadow anymore to screenshots of application windows.

Saving a Screenshot on macOS Sierra of the Current Window to File - Without Default Shadow
Saving a Screenshot on macOS Sierra of the Current Window to File – Without Default Shadow

You can revert this setting and enable the default shadow again by executing the below command from a terminal window:

defaults write com.apple.screencapture disable-shadow -bool false ; killall SystemUIServer

Similarly, you can take a screenshot of the current window –that is, a window that currently has the focus and save it to the clipboard. Use the key combination:

Command-Control-Shift-4 then press space

And as before, you can paste the image from the clipboard into other applications.

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