Screen Captures using a Mac

OSX Preview and Grab application icon images
OSX Preview and Grab application icon images

Screen Captures using a Mac

Windows users often tell me about the Sangit application available from TechSmith. This program is available for OSX also, but is an extra expense.

The synopses is that an application/program to capture screenshots is built into the OSX operating system. Using Sangit does not preclude using Grab, and visa versa.

Currently I am using the Mavericks OS (10.9) but much of this works in previous versions of OSX.

If your the non-technical type, jump to the “Creating a Screen Capture image from within Preview” section below.

Grab the app

I have been using the great application “Grab” for quite some time. Grab is found using the Finder in Applications –> Utilities and when using the Launchpad in/on the Dock in Other. The icon is a pair of scissors overlaying a square depiction of a screen.

Four options to capture screen content exist once the Grab application is started: SelectionWindowScreen, and Timed Screen. And you choose between these from the Capture pulldown menu.

Key Combinations to “Grab” Screen Captures

You can place the Grab icon in the Dock if easy access, but invoking the program from the icon (via the graphical user interface [GUI]) is not the only way to use this handy app. You can also use key combinations.

Several options for screen capture are possible. One thing the new user of this app should probably be aware of is that images captured using the keyboard shortcuts are stored on the desktop by default. This can be changed, and the “how-to” is below. First, however, how to use those keystroke keyboard shortcuts! Here they are:
  • CMD+Shift+3 will capture the entire screen and save it as a file.
  • CMD+CTRL+Shift+3 will capture the entire screen and copy to the clipboard.
  • CMD+Shift+4 will capture an area that you select and save it as a file.
  • CMD+CTRL+Shift+4 will capture an area that you select and copy it to the clipboard.
  • CMD+Shift+4 then space will capture a full window, menu, desktop icon or the menu bar with drop shadows and save as a file.
  • CMD+CTRL+Shift+4 then space will capture a full window, menu, desktop icon, or the menu bar with drop shadows and copy to the clipboard.
  • Holding down the SPACE key after you start drawing an area will allow you to reposition it.
  • Holding down OPTION right after you start drawing an area will allow you to adjust the width and height of the selected area.
  • Hit ESC while capturing an area or window to exit the capture mode.
Todays average personal computer user is so pampered and unsophisticated (yes that sounds harsh, but it is the truth) that they don’t realize that most apps and programs have some very powerful and handy keyboard shortcuts. These save tons of time in the long run with an investment of a little memorization of the keyboard shortcuts.

Change “save to” locations of Grab key combinations

Alright, back to the issue of the keyboard shortcut invoking of the app’s saving to the desktop. I like to keep my desktop as uncluttered as possible. It is hard to do, but one can always try :-). You can easily change the location using the following terminal commands.
defaults write com.apple.screencapture location ~/Downloads

Then again in the terminal

killall SystemUIServer

This will change the default location to the Downloads folder. Another location can be chosen if desired.

The pictures are saved as tiff format. Use Preview to open and then save them in an alternative format if desired.

 Creating a Screen Capture image from within Preview

You can easily just do this all from within Preview.

  • Start Preview using one of the methods below
    • Finder>Applications>Preview
    • Click the Preview Icon in your Dock
    • Search Preview in Spotlight
  • At the top of your screen, click on File in the drop down menu.
  • At the bottom of the drop down menu, hover your mouse over the text ‘Take Screen Shot”
  • You will see a choice of:
  • From selection
  • From window
  • From entire screen

Preview has tools to annotate the screen capture picture.

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