Screen shots on your Mac computer – Working on the computer and being in the technology field often requires the taking of screen captures or screen shots. This could be for submitting to forums or support tickets, or even using them for illustrations in a blog such as I have done below.
Getting a screen capture on a Mac with OS X operating system is easy by hitting the following keys at the same time or together:
- [Command-Shift-3] to capture everything you see on your screen including dual monitors. With dual monitors it’s two separate images with the same name followed by a (1) by default for the second image or,
- [Command-Shift-4] keys at the same time to get a screen shot of a selection
- Grab – is the other option where you open the application and choose from a drop-down selection of what you want to capture, (Takes too long! Use the keyboard shortcuts above).
The problem with screenshots on a Mac is they are in .tiff format. If you’re uploading them to the web, this isn’t always accepted or preferred. So in order to use the images, they’d have to be opened in a photo editor and saved in a different format. I prefer to use .jpg or .png as a common format so I don’t have to edit and save in a different format to use right away.
How to Change Screen Capture from .tiff to .jpg or another format
The way to change the format of your Mac screen shots is easy. First you’re going to open the Terminal application and then your going to type in the following to change the default format of all your images from .tiff to a file format of your choice.
To change this, type the following in Terminal, or copy the text and past (Command-C to copy; Command-v to paste):
defaults write com.apple.screencapture type jpg
This will change all new screen capture formats from .tiff to .jpg. You can choose GIF, PDF, TIFF, JPEG, BMP, or whatever you prefer.
In the image below the first thing I did when I was in Terminal is change where the screenshots are saved rather than having them open and then ask. Basically I created a folder on my desktop called screenshots and set them to save in that location by default.
In the next command we’re changing the format of the screen capture.
The 3rd command we’re renaming all the screenshots to prefix with “screenshot”.
The last and final command restarts SystemUIServer and everything should be effective immediately. Test it out.
So above what I’ve done is the following steps. You can do one or all but you may need the last command:
- Step 1 – Change Default Location of Screen Captures: defaults write com.apple.screencapture location /folder path/ – Folder path being wherever you’ve created a folder to save your screenshots. To find the path, right click on the folder itself and click –>Get Info<– Under General, there’s a field called ‘Where’ and next to it should be the location of the file or folder you’ve selected.
- Step 2 – Change Default File Format of Screen Capture on your Mac: Since I’ve chosen to use .jpg I’ve entered: defaults write com.apple.screencapture type jpg
- Step 3 – Changed the Default Image Name of Screen Capture: defaults write com.apple.screencapture name “screenshot”
For expert users and quick copy and paste:
- defaults write com.apple.screencapture location /folder path/
- defaults write com.apple.screencapture type jpg
- defaults write com.apple.screencapture name “screenshot”
- killall SystemUIServer
That’s it. Next time you save a screenshot you’ll find that it automatically goes into the directory you’ve chosen prefixed with your chosen prefix rather than the default, and it will be saved in the format you’ve chosen in Terminal.
With the Terminal commands above, all my screenshots are now saved to one folder on my desktop /screenshots/ in .jpg format for immediate use and ease of sorting and cleaning out. If for some reason I’m unable to find a screen capture, I can do a search with that term and it will pull up all the images I’ve prefixed with my search term, ‘screenshot’.
This helped me and I am very grateful!! How might I further customize the default file name? I’d love to have the default file name be web friendly. Right now, my new default name looks like this:
It would be awesome to change this to as it would then be good to go! If this is not too much trouble and you have a moment to spare, it would be of great help to me and greatly appreciated!
PS- could you reply via email if you can?
Hi David. #3 above in the command lines changes the default name:
defaults write com.apple.screencapture name “screenshot”
In the above I’ve chosen to name mine ‘screenshot’. You can choose any name you wish for your screen captures and change it as often as you’d like.
Stephen Matthews says
Also there is a way to not include anything else other than the content of the window. Eg no system chrome and no shadow. What’s the command to turn off those options?
Tina Moody says
I’ve been frustrated by this issue for years, literally! Thank you sooooooo much for solving this problem.
I followed this procedure in Terminal over and over with no change what so ever
What am I doing Wrong ?
10.7.5 3.4 INtel core i7
Here is the Terminal responce
2013-09-05 09:34:57.909 defaults[678:707] Unexpected argument SystemUIServer; leaving defaults unchanged.
Roman R. says
@Don, you may have a typo in there somewhere. Two reasons I got the same error when trying this in Os X 10.9:
1. Accidentally put in a double-slash “//” in the pathname.
2. Apparently you can’t use a directory name with spaces in it, in shell commands? The ‘puter things it’s a separator between commands/arguments in the command line. I used underscore instead. Is there another way, anyone?
Oddly enough in Maverick, it seems if you include the quotation marks around the string representing the default beginning stem of the screenshot filename, as in the example above, it actually includes the quotation marks in the resulting filename! 😀
thanks a lot. really pissed me always using the Grab feature then converting tiff to jpg.
saves me time and effort. more power to you.
Amy Robb says
D’oh! I solved my own problem. I was trying to grab a screenshot with a selection using “Capture” — and that’s still spitting out TIFF files. But, when I grab something with Command+Shift+3 (or 4) — I’ve now got jpegs. Many thanks!