Top 4 Ways to Take a Screenshot on a MacBook Pro
If you’re new to the macOS environment, you’re probably wondering at some point about how on earth to take a screenshot on MacBook Pro. Admittedly, Apple hasn’t made it very intuitive, unlike a typical Windows PC, where the PrtScn function is right there on the keyboard. Thankfully, though, there is another way. Using a third-party screenshot tool for your MacBook Pro makes it much easier to capture the full screen, a selection, or even an active app window.
Limitations of Taking a Screenshot with MacBook Air/Pro Native Tools
Built-in tools are usually a blessing on most operating systems; however, in the case of macOS, screenshot capabilities are truly limited. There are several reasons for this:
- Lack of editing, cropping, and annotation tools
- Limited screenshot types available
- Screenshot image files can go above 5 MB, making them unsuitable for sending as email attachments
- Uses clipboard function
- No dedicated software to modify a screenshot before sharing with others
Regular MacBook users will probably have their own gripes to add to that list, so you can see it’s not a very user-friendly feature on Mac laptops. Nevertheless, the tools are there if you want to use them. And, of course, they’re free, so you’re not risking anything.
Now for the methods. Here are 4 of the best ways to take a screenshot on a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro using third-party and native Mac tools:
- 1. Shift-Command -3
- 2. Shift-Command -4
- 3. Shift-Command -5
- 4. Mac Preview
Let’s look at each of these methods in a little more detail, along with the steps involved and features you can expect to see.
1. Shift-Command -3
On older macOS versions (prior to Mojave), this command takes a shot of all visible windows on your screen and saves it to the desktop as a PNG image file. This is basically a bare-bones version that doesn’t offer any added functionality whatsoever. If you want to edit the image or even view it, you’ll need to open it with another image viewing or editing application. That’s not convenient for many users, which is why this method isn’t very popular, and people started looking for third-party solutions like Picpick.
Note: To save a screenshot to the clipboard for pasting into another app, just add the Ctrl button to the above key combination.
2. Shift-Command -4
This variation of the print screen Mac command also saves the screenshot file to your desktop but only grabs the window you click on when taking the shot. For example, if you have multiple apps running in a tiled manner, and you only want the top tile, click the key combination, and hit Space. This will allow you to select the top window or any other window. Click somewhere within that area, and your screengrab is immediately saved to the desktop.
Again, if you just want it on your clipboard, add Ctrl to the combination.
3. Shift-Command -5
When macOS Mojave was launched, it came with an additional variation for screenshots. The process is slightly different from the other two variations above because it gives you a small toolbar for screenshot options. With this single shortcut, you can now take all three types of screenshots: full screen, selected window, and selected area only.
When you press the above key combo, you’ll see the toolbar appear. Use one of the options to select the type of screenshot and click on the relevant area of the screen when you see your mouse pointer change into a camera icon. Many people don’t know that when the screenshot icon appears on the bottom right, you can click it to open the built-in image editor, which allows you to edit, annotate, and crop the image before saving it to your desktop. It’s an added function to the older feature and can be quite handy.
4. Mac Preview
This is a bit of a roundabout solution for taking screenshots on MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. Still, you can use the Preview image viewing app that’s already pre-loaded on your computer to take several types of screenshots.
Once you launch the app, you’ll see a Take Screen Shot option with another menu showing you three screenshot types. Choose the one you want and, if needed, select the area or window to be snapped. As soon as the capture is done, it will open as a new image without any file name (untitled.) You can now use Preview’s annotation tools to manage the screenshot. The biggest advantage here is that you can make notes before saving the image, which isn’t possible with the older Shift-Command (⌘)-3 and 4 methods.
When you compare these various methods, it’s clear that Picpick is the best way to be more productive. Not only can you get through more screenshots this way, but the editing and annotation tools make sure that you have everything you need to get the image ready for official purposes. If you’re sharing it with your boss, for example, you want to make sure that you write clear and concise notes and do perfect markups to the screenshot. That’s easiest to do with Picpick, and that’s the reason why this screenshot (MacBook Pro) tool is rapidly gaining traction with business and even personal users.
- Best Screenshot Tools for Mac (and Windows)
- How to Take a Screen Grab
- Top 5 Windows 11 Screenshot Tools
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