How to change the location and format of Mac screenshots

Two simple Terminal commands let you change the location and format of screenshots taken with your Mac's built-in screen-capture tool.

As a tech blogger, I take a lot of screenshots on my Mac and iOS devices to illustrate my posts. I use the built-in screen-capture tool on my MacBook Pro to snap a portion of my screen (Command-Shift-4) or the full screen (Command-Shift-3). These screenshots by default get saved to the desktop. Thus, after a busy day or three of blogging, my desktop begins to get a bit cluttered.

Thanks to a helpful tip on AddictiveTips, I am now saving these screenshots to a designated folder. All it takes is entering a bit of code to Terminal. And, if you have a preferred file format for your screenshots, there's another line of code that will allow you to change that.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

First, to change the location for your screenshots, you'll need to open Terminal and enter a command similar to this:

defaults write com.apple.screencapture location **folder path**

In my case, I have a folder titled "screenshots" on my desktop, so the code I entered was:

defaults write com.apple.screencapture location Users/mtelliott/Desktop/screenshots

(To find the path for a folder, right-click on it and choose Get Info.)

One important note: you will need to log out and back in again for the change to take effect.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Second, to change the file type from the default PNG format, enter this command:

defaults write com.apple.screencapture type jpg

You can also select BMP, GIF, PDF, or TIFF instead of JPEG. Again, you will need to log out and back in for the change to take effect.

 

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