How to Use Snipping Tool on Mac

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The Microsoft Windows Screenshot Tool is a wonderful time-saving feature for anyone who needs to capture Windows screenshots. On MacBooks and desktop Macs, there’s an equivalent feature called Screen Capture that’s even easier to use. All you need are a few keyboard shortcuts!

Show screenshot toolbar

Bringing up the snipping tool is easy, just hold Shift + Command + 5 and it will appear at the bottom of your main screen. If you have a MacBook with a Touch Bar, these controls are also replicated there.

From left to right, there are five capture options:

  • Capture a screenshot of an entire screen.
  • Capture a selected window,
  • Capture part of the screen.
  • Start a video recording of an entire screen.
  • Start a video recording of part of a screen.

These are all the capture options offered by macOS.

Using the Screen Capture Toolbar

To use any of these features, click the button for the type of capture you need. Using the tool in this way is a two-step process. First, you will select the type of capture, then you will use the mouse pointer to complete the capture or click the Capture button on the far right of the tool.

Capture whole screen in macOS

If you select “Capture Full Screen”, then click “Capture”, you will hear an audio confirmation of the capture and see a thumbnail in the lower right corner of the screen. You can click directly on the thumbnail to edit the plan or wait a few seconds for it to disappear. The image will be saved in the default desktop, although you can change the save location.

If you are using a multi-monitor setup, you must move the mouse pointer over the screen you want to capture. Unlike Windows, a standard screenshot in macOS does not create a large image that includes all desktops.

Capture selected window in macOS

If you choose to capture a specific window, your pointer will turn into a camera icon. As you move it through the windows, they will be highlighted. Click on the highlighted window to capture it as a screenshot. In macOS, these window captures appear on a transparent background with a drop shadow, but it is possible to capture windows in macOS without a drop shadow.

Capture part of the screen in macOS

If you choose to capture part of the screen, the mouse pointer turns into a crosshair. Click and drag to highlight part of the screen. You can use the nodes of the highlighted part to resize it, or click and drag anywhere inside the highlighted area to move the whole selection. Click capture to finalize the capture.

RELATED: The Best macOS Keyboard Shortcuts You Should Be Using

Video captures

macOS registration screen

Both video options work the same as their image counterparts, except the Capture button changes to “Record.” Also, you need to bring up the toolbar again with Shift + Command + 5 to end the recording by clicking the square Stop button.

If you have multiple screens connected, you will first be asked which screen you want to record before the capture begins. Recordings are sent to the same location as screenshots.

RELATED: How to Change Where Screenshots Are Saved on Mac

Create a screenshot immediately

The Screen Capture toolbar is intuitive, but it adds a few steps to the screen capture process. If you want to take a screenshot directly, press Shift + Command + 3. This will instantly take a screenshot and save it to your default location.

If you want to capture part of the screen without opening the Snipping toolbar first, press Shift+Command+4, then use the pointer to drag your selection over the part of the screen you you want to capture.

If you press Shift + Command + 4 and then spacebar, it will switch to capturing the highlighted window instead.

Capture Touch Bar

If you have a MacBook with a Touch Bar, it won’t be captured as part of a standard screenshot. To capture your Touch Bar, press Shift+Command+6 and a screenshot of your current Touch Bar will be saved to the currently selected location.

RELATED: Five useful things you can do with the MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar

Changing capture options

Mac OS capture options

You can change your snipping options by opening the Snipping Tool and clicking the Options button. Here you can set where the captures should be saved or set a timer for the captures. You can also configure the tool to remember the location of your last partial screen selection or to include the mouse pointer in your captures.

RELATED: How to Take a Mac Screenshot Without a Keyboard


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Steven L. Nielsen