How to make Screenshots

How to make Screenshots
Mac Tip#42/13-Feb-2002

Have you ever had something odd show up on your screen? A strange (or funny) error message? Peculiar lines or blotches or general weirdness? Have you ever wished you could get a picture of your screen? Well, you can. You can make a screenshot.

There are 3 or 4 choices you can make when you do this.

In OS 9 and earlier

If you just want to capture everything you can see on your screen then press down the Command (Apple) key as well as the Shift key then press and release the number 3 across the top of the keyboard. Now let go of the other two keys. This is called using Command Shift 3.

If the volume on your computer is set loud enough you’ll hear a sound like a camera shutter. Now if you look on your hard drive you’ll see a file called Picture 1. Double click it and it should open up. This will be a little disorienting at first because you seem to be looking at your screen, while in fact you’re just looking at a picture of your screen. Try Command W to close the window if you can’t find the correct Close Box.

If you don’t want the entire screen then you can snap just a part of it instead. Use Command Shift 4. When you do the key command you’ll get a crosshair cursor. Make a selection and when you let go the mouse the screenshot is made.

Finally, try engaging Caps Lock and then do Command Shift 4. This gives you a circle cursor. Click in the window you want and you will capture the whole window.


Some of the steps above will seem to work, but for best results go to the Utilities Folder (in the Applications folder) and open up Grab.

Now go back to the window whose contents you wish to capture, then use the Dock at the bottom of the screen to go back to Grab.

Go to the Capture menu and choose Selection. Now use the crosshair cursor to draw a box around the area you want to capture. You’ll hear the camera shutter sound and then the picture will open up on screen.

Instead of capturing a selection you could capture a screen. When you choose this from the Capture menu some instructions will appear, telling you to click. This now takes a picture of the entire computer screen and opens it for you.

Finally, you can capture a Timed Screen. This option is a bit like the self-timer on a camera. It brings up a button called Start Timer. After you click the button you have ten seconds to switch to the screen you want to capture and then the computer snaps the screen.

When you close the picture it will ask whether you want to save the changes. Save the picture if it was what you wanted. If not, don’t save and have another go.

Special Tip: take a screenshot if your computer misbehaves or if you see an error message you want to report to your computer support person.

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  1. mike said:

    my screenshots used to get saved onto the desktop, but now i can’t find out where they go. they don’t go where i tell safari to save downloads, and i can’t find out where to set the destination as a preference. anyone? anyone? thanks.

  2. Bernice Vetter said:

    I’ve lost all my desktop access icons by clicking on Finder relaunch. Please help. Thanks, B

  3. Miraz Jordan said:

    If you make lots of screenshots I recommend Ambrosia Software’s Snapz Pro. That’s what I use.

    The last time I used Apple’s built-in screenshot feature from memory it created a PDF and put it on the Desktop.

  4. Robert Teachout said:

    in 0S 9 the pict file created by apple shift 4 was found in the hard drive named pict1, pict2, ect…
    in OSX Where do the files go after snaping the shot, I can’t find them anywhere. even did a search for pict on my hard drive???

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