Tip: Screen capture options

Mac OS X has a built-in ability to capture screenshots using simple keyboard commands, with shots saved to the Desktop as "Picture 1, 2, 3, etc.

Mac OS X has a built-in ability to capture screenshots using simple keyboard commands, with shots saved to the Desktop as "Picture 1, 2, 3, etc." This feature can be exceptionally useful for generating documents, or sending system configurations to friends and colleagues. Although most users are aware of the basic functionality of the screen capture feature, there are some hidden features that can really enhance the usability of screenshots.

Using "Screen Capture" Here is a list of the known features of "Screen Capture" (using key commands to take screen shots):

  • "shift-command-3" -- The basic screenshot, will take an image of the full screen.
  • "shift-command-4" -- The "selection" mode, will take a shot of the area outlined by dragging the cursor.
  • "shift-command-4" then tapping "Space" -- The "Window" mode, will take a shot of the highlighted window.
  • "shift-command-4" dragging, then holding "space" -- Drag mode, will allow the current sized box to be relocated.
  • "shift-command-4" then "options" -- The "center" mode, will resize the box focusing on the center.
  • "shift-command-4" then "shift" -- The "axis" lock, will resize while locking the movement to one axis, determined by initial mouse movement.
    • Pressing "escape" before releasing the mouse in any mode will cancel the screenshot.
    • Holding "control" in any mode (ie: "control-shift-command-3") will output the results to the clipboard instead of to a file, allowing the contents to immediately be pasted into documents.
    • Changing the format with "Screen Capture": By default, "screencapture" outputs files in "PNG" format; however, several other common formats are supported. Users can change the file format by entering the following command in the terminal: defaults write com.apple.screencapture type TYPE. In this command, "TYPE" is one of the following: gif, jpg, tiff, pdf, psd, or png.

Using "Grab" Before "screencapture" was implemented in Mac OS X 10.2.x, Apple supplied a screenshot utility called "Grab", which is still available in Leopard. Users can do all the functions of "screencapture" in Grab, but the best thing about Grab is the option for timed screen captures. This allows users to take screenshots after a 10 second delay, allowing them to set up their screens as desired and be in the act of working when the screenshot is taken. Additional features of "Grab" are to set specific cursor types (or remove the mouse cursor altogether) during the shot.

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