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I am attempting to take a screenshot of a tooltip that appears when a user hovers over it, and immediately disappears upon any key press or cursor movement. Unfortunately, this means the typical shortcut I use for screenshots (+SHIFT+4) causes the element to disappear.

Is there any way I can capture this tooltip, preferably without installing any third party software?

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up vote 27 down vote accepted

You can do this using the screencapture CLI:

screencapture -T 5 -C ~/Desktop/screencapture.png

Define a delay using -T <seconds>. Use -C to capture the cursor too.

Add -i to capture interactively. This uses the normal capture region selection available from ⌘⇧4, however you can combine this with -T to add a delay so that it captures the tooltip in the region.

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Oh wow, I've needed to know this forever – jlarson Jun 4 '14 at 23:26

You can do this with the Capture > Timed Screen option in the Grab utility. After starting the timer, you'll have 10 seconds to get back to what you want a shot of (including getting the tooltip to reappear). Also, you can use the Grab application's preferences to control whether (& how) the mouse pointer appears in the shot. What it doesn't let you do is choose which region to take a shot of, it just grabs the entire screen; you'll have to crop it appropriately yourself.

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Thanks, I didn't know about Grab. Seems like a great solution to keep the cursor in the picture. – Ben Siver Feb 25 '14 at 16:42

If you only want the tooltip in the screenshot (without capturing anything else in the background), a faster way would be to use the keyboard shortcut 4, then position the crosshair over the tooltip, then press space (the crosshair should now turn into a camera). Then simply click on the tooltip, and you’ll get a nice screenshot of it with a transparent background and even its shadow to boot!

An example: tooltip_HiDPI

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+shift+3 should do the trick, it captures the entire screen. The only downsides are that it doesn't grab the cursor as well and depending on what you want you may have to crop it a bit in Preview afterwards.

That's how I grabbed this image.Screenshot showing active tooltip

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Thanks, seems like it would be a good solution, however, as soon as I hit ⌘, the tooltip disappears from the screen. This is the case for Stackexchange as well. Maybe it's my browser? edit: Tried the same thing in Chrome, and the tooltip remains. Thanks! – Ben Siver Feb 25 '14 at 16:13
Ah cool, didn't realize the tooltip behavior could be dictated by the browser. I almost always use Safari so I hadn't noticed it before. – Mr Rabbit Feb 25 '14 at 16:21

I was having the same issue & discovered that the 'disappearing' screen shots were being saved to Dropbox.

Can't remember setting up that save-to destination... But worth a look if the answers above don't help. Only a problem on my MacBook Air running 10.9.4

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The trick is simple, you have to keep press (+SHIFT) first. Then hover mouse to make tool tip appear and press (4).

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Some great answers here, but for my use case, this turned out to be the simple trick I needed ! – Phantomwhale Jul 1 at 1:24

Weird. I had no trouble with (+SHIFT+4) in Safari (7.0.2).

This was taken from this site.

screen capture

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I discovered earlier that this is actually browser specific behavior. See my first comment on the accepted answer. – Ben Siver Mar 4 '14 at 22:36

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