Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar’s oft-ignored ‘secret’ screenshot method

With Mac OS X v10.2, you now have yet another option for capturing screenshots. This method is so often ignored that it may as well be a secret. We’re here to let the secret out. The first two options were available in previous versions of Mac OS X (note: Command = Apple key):

1. Press Command-Shift-3 all at once to take a screenshot of your entire screen.
2. Press Command-Shift-4 all at once and Mac OS X presents you with crosshairs you can use to select whatever portion of your display you’d like to capture in a screenshot. Just select your desired area, let up on the mouse and whatever you’ve highlighted will be captured.

The new third option in Jag is very cool:
3. Type Command-Shift-4 and then press the spacebar once. The crosshairs will change into a camera icon. Hover the camera over any element on the screen you wish to capture, for example, the Dock, the menu bar, the desktop, or any open window. Then just click the mouse button to “snap” a screen shot. Or hit Command-. (Command-period) to cancel. With this option, you can entirely eliminate the desktop when you capture a screen shot of an individual window and get a clean outline without having to crop your screenshot in another application.

Cool, huh?


  1. And then of course Command-Control-Shift-4 will give you “crosshair” selection to the clipboard. From there you can paste into any graphics compatible file. I use it all the time to send snippets in email, or to document an order number from an online vendor. I take a clip of the order number and important info, and paste it into a sticky note.

  2. You didn’t mention that this sends the image to a PDF on the desktop. That’s great, but I expected it to go to the clipboard. To get this image into the clipboard, you have to use the CTRL key while clicking the mouse.

  3. Cmd-Shift-3: window to disk
    Cmd-Shift-3 + Cntl: window to clipboard
    Cmd-Shift-4: part of the display to disk
    Cmd-Shift-4 + Cntl: part of the display to clipboard
    Cmd-Shift-4 + Spacebar: active window to disk
    Cmd-Shift-4 + Spacebar + Cntl: active window to clipboard

  4. Someone will correct me if I’m wrong I’m sure. Command-shift-3 has been a Mac feature since the first macintosh in 1984 (my father got a 128k in the first month of their release). I’m always amused when some one stumbles upon this and reveals it as a just discovered “hidden” feature.

  5. Command-Shift-3 [window to disk] OS 9, 10.1.x and 10.2

    Command-Shift-3 + then Control [window to clipboard] OS 9 and 10.2

    Command-Shift-4 [part of the display to disk] OS 9, 10.1.x and 10.2

    Command-Shift-4 + Control [part of the display to clipboard] OS 9 and 10.2

    Command-Shift-4 + Capslock [active window to disk] OS 9

    Command-Shift-4 + Capslock + then control [active window to clipboard] OS 9

    Command-Shift-4 + Spacebar [active window to disk] OS X 10.2

    Command-Shift-4 + Spacebar + Control [active window to clipboard] OS X 10.2

  6. The big difference between capturing a screen element in OS 9 and OS X is that in OS X you can use this trick to capture dropped down or popped up menus. In OS 9 the menu would go away when you hit the key sequence. Not so in OS X.

  7. Simon,

    Converting PDF to JPEG is very easy – maybe even obvious ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” /> – here is how: open the PDF in Preview, choose Export and select JPEG.

    I like expecially Cmd-Shift-4 + Spacebar, since it gives a snapshot with the rounded edges of a window without the background. Very nice, that camera feature.

  8. Tinkertool used to let you change the default screenshot format from pdf to anything you wished (jpeg, tiff, etc.), but Apple killed that in Jaguar and it seems that Apple’s hell bent on making it pdf only for screenshots. I haven’t found a third party hack to fix it, yet.

  9. If you Cmd-Shift-4 + Space and select a background window that is partially covered by another window, it will select the whole screen area of the background window but only snapshots whatever is visible in that area, so it will screencapture part of any overlying windows.

  10. Mac OS is retarded.
    There are so many shortcuts and hotkeys in the OS and applications. They should be intuitive and explicit for everyone. Do we expect only Apple Engineers to know this stuff and tell us all?

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