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Tips and Tools for Taking Screenshots on Your Mac

written by: Donny Yankellow•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 7/7/2011

Have you ever had to send a person a picture on your Mac screen? There are some easy keyboard combinations you can use to take that picture or you can use a software application.

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    Do It Yourself with the Keyboard

    Have you ever wanted to send someone an image of your Mac screen? This is known as a screenshot, and taking one is extremely easy to do on your Mac with a few keyboard shortcuts and a mouse click.

    There are three types of screenshots you can take on your Mac using keyboard commands:

    Command+Shift+3 : Use this keyboard combination to take a straight picture of your entire screen. Whatever is shown on your screen appears on your shot.

    Command+Shift+4 : Use this combination to take a picture of a selection of your screen. This key combination will turn your cursor arrow into a crosshair. Click and drag the crosshair over what you want to take a picture of and unclick.

    Command+Shift+4 followed by space: Use this command to take a picture of a specific window on your screen. This key combination will turn your arrow into a camera icon. Moving the icon over different windows on your screen will darken the screen around that window. Click when you have the window selected and a picture of that window will be taken.

    If you start the process of one of the last two methods mentioned and want to abort the process, just press the “esc” key.

    Whenever you take a screenshot with one of these methods, the file will be placed on your desktop. Depending on your operating system, it will be called “Picture 1,” “Picture 2,” etc. Or, if you are using Snow Leopard it will be labeled with a date and time under the name “Screenshot.”

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    Let a Program Do All The Work

    If these options are not enough for you, there are a ton of shareware and freeware programs out there that provide even more options for taking screenshots. I have tried a lot of them and two of my favorites are Skitch and Little Snapper. Both of these programs, and others, allow you to take a timed screenshot. A timed screenshot gives you some time between activating the screenshot and having it taken. Some programs give you a preset amount of time while others let you choose how many seconds to wait before the picture is taken.

    The nice thing about Little Snapper and Skitch is that these two programs help organize your screenshots. They even give you some minor editing tools to use on your screenshots before sending them off.

    Want a simpler program for taking screenshots? Try Instantshot! It installs a menu bar, and has many of the advanced features of the other two programs without the eye candy.

    Visit MacUpdate or VersionTracker and search for “screenshot” for even more options.

    No matter what method you use, screenshots are a great way to send pictures of your computer screen to other people. Take your picture, attach it to an email, and off it goes!

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    Other Mac Software Resources

    Art Apps for the Mac – This list includes some top drawing programs for Mac computers that have very reasonable prices. In fact, some of them are even free.

    Send Photos Through iPhoto Using iPhoto2Gmail – If you're a Gmail user, you may want to check out iPhoto2Gmail, a free plug-in for iPhoto that makes it quick and easy to send photos in iPhoto through your Gmail account.

    Need Backup Software? Alternatives to Time Machine – Looking for an easier and more efficient way to back up your important data on your Mac computer? Check out this list of Time Machine alternatives that includes both free and paid software.