Take the 2-minute tour ×
Ask Different is a question and answer site for power users of Apple hardware and software. It's 100% free, no registration required.

⌘ + Shift + 3

The screen capture shortcut on the Mac is one of the most useful tools I know. It grabs the screen and neatly places a .png file onto your desktop.

But is this the highest quality screen capture you can get? Is it possible to get a higher resolution screen capture? Are there any ways to tinker with the settings of this command?

share|improve this question
add comment

migrated from stackoverflow.com Apr 1 '11 at 21:20

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

3 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

The PNG is losslessly compressed; there's isn't a possible better-quality screenshot.

share|improve this answer
add comment

The image will always have the same dimensions as the screen or window being captured — a 1440x900 screen will create a 1440x900 screenshot.

Today's operating systems are resolution-dependent: everything you see screen is either being shown at actual size (e.g. a 10-pixel-by-10-pixel icon which has actually drawn as 10 pixels by 10 pixels) or has been rendered at some pixel dimensions. So, the size of objects on a computer display is entirely dependent on the pixel density of the display — a higher-resolution screen (or screen capture!) would make everything smaller.

An interesting example of this is Apple's iPhone 4 — its screen has a higher resolution (and pixel density, since the screen is the same physical size) than previous models. Apple had to craft bigger icons to keep everything the same apparent size, and screenshots from iPhone 4 are much larger than older models.

You can change the format of screenshots, and the folder where they're dropped, using utilities like TinkerTool.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Using the terminal you can change the file type to jpeg, which can give you better quality results.

defaults write com.apple.screencapture type jpg
killall SystemUIServer

Instead of jpg you can also set it to many other file types including tiff, pdf, png, bmp or pict. Try which one works best in your case.

share|improve this answer
    
How is a jpg considered better quality than tiff, png, or any of the other lossless formats? –  Kent Jan 27 at 1:43
    
Good compromise between quality and compatibility with programs. If quality is your only concern then stick with tiff. –  Paul Jan 27 at 4:21
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.