One of my admired Mac appearance is the ease at which you can take and edit screenshots using Apple’s absence tools. Using one of several keyboard shortcuts, I can take a screenshot of absolutely what I want to capture, and edit it all (or not) in Preview.

Here are those keyboard shortcuts I was talking about:

  • Shift Command 3: Takes a screenshot of your whole screen.
  • Shift Command 4: Allows you to screenshot specific areas of the screen.
  • Shift Command 6: Screenshot the Touch Bar.

Double-clicking the screenshot opens it in Preview. From here  you can open the Markup Toolbar to make edits and annotations, or dig around the Tools menu for added options — like resizing or color edits.


But as great as these tools are, there are few options for customization by default. Today we’re going to look at several ways to take better screenshots through a few easy Terminal hacks. And don’t be scared, you can always revert these changes later if you’re not a fan.

Highlight specific elements for a screenshot


Using CMD Shift 4 allows us to drag the abduction area around a specific item we want to capture. But if you want to capture, say, the Dock, Menu Bar, or a Finder window you can avoid trying to line up absolute edges and instead just use this trick.

  1. Press CMD Shift 4
  2. Press the Space bar right after
  3. Once the camera icon appears, move it to the area you want to abduction and wait for it to highlight that area.
  4. Click the mouse to abduction the screenshot.

Now instead of taking an image of my entire Desktop, I’ve got just the window I was attractive for — and a cool drop shadow effect to help it stand out.

Save hard drive space by saving as JPG instead of PNG

One of my better gripes with the Mac is in its absence use of PNG images, all of which are much bigger than they need to be. Worse, there’s no option to change this after diving into Terminal. These two images, for example, are the same. One is a absence screenshot in PNG with basal compression; the other is a aeroembolism JPG — which is half the size.


As you can see, the JPG screenshot is less than 10-percent of the size. And if you’re afraid about quality, don’t be. Both are more than able for most of what you’d be using them for — unless you plan on alarming up your screenshot and blind it on a wall, that is. For my use cases — announcement to TNW, adding to social media, or sending in a chat app/text bulletin — these are fine. Anything more is overkill.

To use a better example, here are two images from Pexels side-by-side. One is a PNG, the others is a JPG that takes up half the space. Both are at the recommended size for a Facebook cover photo.

Can you tell the difference?



Probably not. And if you can, is it apparent enough to double the file size?

Open Terminal by branch to Applications > Utilities > Terminal (or just bringing up finder — CMD F — and typing in Terminal).


In the Terminal window, paste or type in the afterward command and press return:


Change where your Mac stores screenshots

By default, all screenshots are stored on the desktop, and in PNG format. We’re going to change both of those things, but we’ll start with the screenshot location. I don’t like them abashing up my desktop, and I’d prefer them to remain out of view until I need them.

To do this, I created a new folder in Documents, and named it Screenshots.


From there, I opened up Terminal, entered the afterward command, and apprenticed return:

defaults write area ~/Documents/Screenshots


If you don’t have the Screenshots folder, Terminal will ignore the command. So you’ll need to create that first. You can also use any number of other locations and/or names by just alteration aggregate after the path, which in this case is ~/Documents.

Maybe ~/Pictures/Screenshots is more your style.

Once done, enter addition Terminal command to complete the change (and press return once you’re done):


“Killall” sounds scary, but it’s really just resetting aggregate to make the change.

Resize a CMD Shift 4 selection

I used to be balked with CMD Shift 4. I was a perfectionist, and it was hard to line up the absolute amount of space at each edge of the image after a lot of trial and error. And then addition showed me this trick.

After highlighting the area for a screenshot, hold the Space bar. Now, you can move your alternative around and line it up just how you like it.

If you want to resize a single ambit of the selection, do the same thing while captivation the Shift key. Now you can drag the top, for example, after affecting the bottom or the sides. If you want to make more adjustments, absolution the Shift key and then press it again.

To adjust the alternative proportionally — where each side gets bigger/smaller but stays in the same aspect ratio — hold the Alt key and drag.