You may want to capture your Mac screen for troubleshooting, sharing, or teaching. Whatever the reason, it isn't difficult to take a screen recording or capture on your Mac. You don't even need third-party software, although screen recording software is available if you want it. Here's how to screen record on Mac.
Instructions in this article apply to Mac OS X Panther (10.3) and later.
How to Capture Your Entire Mac Screen
A single keyboard command will take a snapshot of everything on your Mac's screen, including the menu at the top. To do so, press Command+Shift+3.
In newer versions of macOS, a preview of the image will appear in the lower-right corner of your display. From there, you can drag the screenshot directly into an email, text message, or other program if it's ready to use as-is.
If you miss the preview, the system will save the screenshot to the Desktop by default. The title will be "Screenshot [Date] at [Time]," for example, "Screenshot 2020-07-07 at 1.52.03 PM."
Hold Control while taking the screenshot to copy it to the Clipboard. You can use this shortcut whether you're capturing the entire screen or just part of it.
To avoid cluttering the Desktop, you can change the save location for screenshots to create a dedicated folder that you can easily empty.
How to Capture Part of Your Mac's Screen
You may just want to snapshot a specific section, and you can use a keyboard command for that, too. Here's what to do:
Make sure the element you want to capture is visible on the screen.
Press Command+Shift+4 on your keyboard.
A set of crosshairs will appear with some numbers next to them. Those digits correspond to the crosshairs' coordinates on the screen in pixels.
Click and drag a box to select the area you want to capture. The numbers next to the crosshair will change to show the dimensions of your selection, still in pixels.
To redo your selection while making it, hold Space and drag the box to a new starting point. You can make these adjustments as many times as you need before you save the screenshot.
Release the mouse button to take the screenshot. A preview will appear in the lower-right corner of the screen, or you can find it later in the save location (the Desktop, by default).
To start over, press Esc to cancel, and then press the keyboard combination again to re-enter capture mode.
How to Capture a Specific Window in macOS
You don't have to manually select to capture the contents of a single window. You can also quickly copy its contents with an extra keyboard command.
Pull up the contents you want to copy.
Press Command+Shift+4 on your keyboard to enter capture mode.
Press Space. The crosshairs will turn into a camera.
Place the cursor over the window you want to capture. The window will get a slight blue highlight. Don't worry, the blue hue won't be there when you capture the image.
The window you capture doesn't need to be the active one.
Click the window to capture it. Press Esc to cancel.
By default, a screenshot of a window will include a white background with a "shadow" under the image. To save just the window, hold Option when you click the window.
How to Take a Screenshot With the macOS Screenshot App
In macOS Mojave (10.14) and later, you can access even more options with a dedicated Screenshot app. Along with static screenshots, you can also record what is happening on your screen.
Press Command+Shift+5 on your keyboard to open the Screenshot interface.
A small menu bar will appear at the bottom of the screen. The first three options are for static screenshots.Capture Entire Screen: Instantly take a screenshot of everything visible on your display.Capture Selected Window: Take a screenshot of a single window. Again, hold Control while clicking the window to remove the background from the final image.Capture Selected Portion: Drag out a box to highlight a specific part of the screen and only grab that area.
The Options menu to the right of the capture buttons contains a variety of settings.Save To: Choose an option from the list to tell macOS where to save your screenshots and captures. Use Other Location to browse to a specific folder.Timer: Set a delay between when you press a capture button and when the capture occurs.Microphone: Choose the sound input, if any, for screen recordings. Usually, you'll see either None or your Mac's internal hardware, but if you have a USB mic connected, you can choose that, too. You can't change this setting when a screen recording is active.Show Floating Thumbnail: Toggle whether or not the preview image appears after you take a screenshot or recording.Remember Last Selection: Select this option to tell Screenshot to use the same selection box for subsequent captures. This setting saves time if you're taking multiple shots of the same area.Show Mouse Pointer/Show Mouse Clicks: Keep this setting off to make your pointer invisible in screenshots and recordings.
Your Mac saves screen recordings in the same location as screenshots.
How to Record Your Screen With the macOS Screenshot App
The built-in Screenshot app also includes options for capturing a video of everything you're doing. Screen recordings are handy for demonstrating processes and creating shareable instructional videos. Here's how to make one with the Screenshot app.
Press Command+Shift+5 on your keyboard to open the Screenshot interface.
The icons in the second panel (the fourth and fifth buttons from the left) control screen recordings, and they're similar to the options you have when taking a still screenshot.Record Entire Screen: Start recording everything visible on your screen. While you're recording, you can switch between windows and programs and you use your Mac as you normally would.Record Selected Portion: Drag out a box to specify which part of the screen to record.
You can't easily limit a screen recording to a single window like you can with a screenshot, but you can draw a box around that window to get similar results.
Select the recording option you want to use, highlight the portion of your screen you want to capture (if necessary), and then click the Record button at the far right of the Screenshot bar.
Press Esc to cancel.
Just like with still screenshots, you can adjust your selection by holding Shift and moving the box.
While Screenshot is capturing your screen, use your Mac as you normally would. You can still take screenshots while making a recording.
To stop recording all or part of your screen, click the Stop button in the menu bar.
Alternatively, re-open the Screenshot app by pressing Command+Shift+5 and press the Stop button, which replaces the screen capture options.
Your Mac saves screen recordings to the same folder as screenshots (or whichever location you chose from the Options menu). Their names follow the format "Screen Recording [Date] at [Time]," for example, "Screen Recording 2020-07-07 at 1.52.03 PM."
How to Record Your Screen Without the Screenshot App
If you're running macOS High Sierra (10.13) or earlier, you don't have access to the Screenshot app, but you can still record your screen using Quicktime Player. To do so, select File > New Screen Recording.
Alternatively, press Control+Command+N on your keyboard.
Just like in Screenshot, you can record all or part of your screen. Press the Stop button in the menu bar to stop recording. Your Mac saves screen recordings you take in Quicktime to the same location as screenshots.