Mac Screenshot Capture Tricks and Apps You Need to Know


The purpose of this blog post is to list some of the shortcuts I use most often that I think can significantly improve my productivity. So it’s somewhat subjective.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please leave a comment below.


MacOS system has built-in screenshot function, each screenshot will trigger a sound notification, of course, this sound can be turned off. There are four basic operations:

Take screenshot and save to desktop

  • Cmd + Shift + 3: captures the entire screen and saves the screenshot to the desktop
  • Cmd + Shift + 4: capture a specific area and save the screenshot to the desktop

After activating the area screenshot function, the mouse pointer will look like the following image, and then you can hold and drag it.

Take a screenshot and copy it

In some cases, the screenshots are just for temporary use and are not intended to be saved. All we need is:

  • Cmd + Ctrl + Shift + 3: capture the entire screen and copy
  • Cmd + Ctrl + Shift + 4: capture area and copy

After taking screenshots with shortcuts above, we only need “Cmd” + “V” to paste the images at will.

Take a screenshot of Touch Bar

As Touch Bar has been added to the new MacBook Pro, the macOS also provides shortcuts to capture the tiny Touch Bar screen:

  • Cmd + Shift + 6: capture the Touch Bar display content and saves it to the desktop
  • Cmd + Ctrl + Shift + 6: capture Touch Bar display content and copy

Capture a window

One of the most common functions is to capture a window. Instead of using the shortcut key of the capture area and then adjusting area size, just click the spacebar after “Cmd” + “Shift” + “4”, and the mouse and window will look like this:

The mouse will change to the shape of the red arrow pointing to the camera, and the window to be captured will change to the color of the “select” mode.

Just click the mouse you can capture the entire content of the window, to cancel, press “ESC”.

Similarly, if you press “Cmd” + “Ctrl” +”Shift” + “4”, the screenshot will be copied. If without “Ctrl”, the screenshot will be saved to the desktop

Screenshot Annotation

We only need the built-in Preview app to annotate the screenshots.

Open the screenshot with Preview, then click on the toolbox icon to mark it. MacOS provides us with annotation functions such as selection (circle, rectangle and lasso), brightness selection, brush, geometric figure annotation (circle, rectangle, arrow, etc.), text, signature, color matching and cutting.

Turn off capure sound

The screenshot capture sound can be turned off. Go to System Preferences, then select Sound, and then turn off the sound.

Screenshot Apps Recommendation

Many people asked me how to make gifs on the Mac and what screenshot apps can replace the built-in screenshot function. Here are a few good choices, from free to paid.

All three apps below are free and at least slightly better at tagging than the native versions

Awesome Screenshot (Chrome Extension)

Awesome Screenshot is a free screenshot extension for Chrome, not a native app. It supports common functions such as delay screenshot, area screenshot, and so on. There is also a built-in web-based annotation tool.

Skitch (From Evernote)

Skitch | Evernote is also a free screenshot app with a slightly better annotation feature than Awesome Screenshot. If you use Evernote and often need to take screenshots and save them to your Evernote, this app might be for you. Skitch, meanwhile, has an iOS version


Jing is also a free screenshot app from TechSmith, a company that makes a more powerful screenshot tool called SnagIt, which will be explained in detail below.

GIF Making Apps Recommendation

LICEcap (free)

LICEcap is a macOS Gif production tool, which is not free to use. Compared to other apps, LICEcap itself doesn’t offer sharing and uploading capabilities, so I wouldn’t recommend it

GIPHY Capture (free)

GIPHY Capture was developed by popular Gif sharing site GIPHY. One handy feature is that you can upload the link directly to and share it with your friends. Again, it’s fine to save it locally

SnagIt – The Ultimate Screenshot App

My general habit is to use macOS’ built-in screenshots if they are just for pasting into a chat box or something, and they don’t need to be tagged.

If I need to make annotation, or want to save it, I’ll use a third-party App: SnagIt. Although it’s a paid app, I think it is still worth buying.

Take Screenshot

In terms of taking screenshots, SnagIt provides useful features like area delay screenshots, panoramic screenshots, Expose mode screenshots and even camera input screenshots.

You can also choose the format of the image you want to save, and it can be saved with impressive Retina resolution.


As a paid app, it does offer more editing capabilities than macOS’ built-in Preview app.

Besides the basic arrows and text functions. It also provides mosaic function. Magnifying glasses are also excellent for highlighting important points.

There is even stamps function, you can choose from a vast selection of stamps, from PC keypad stamps, to Emoji, to mathematical symbols and cursive English letters, can be directly thrown on the screenshot.

Video Recording

First of all, SnagIt can record very high definition video, and there is no limit to how long it can record. Full screen and area recording modes are supported, as well as camera input and microphone input, which should also be great for recording video meetings.

Another scenario is that if we see a favorite video on some websites and want to save it, but the website does not provide download feature, then we can directly select the video playing area to record video by ourselves.

Upload and Sync

TechSmith itself provides the services of and TechSmith Relay service.

Of course, we can also upload to Google Drive or Dropbox. You can also configure your own FTP server or just drop it into your iCloud folder.

Also, you can select local folder to save.

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