I recently got a retina display MacBook, and all my screenshots (via ⌘ CMD+⇧ SHIFT+3 or ⌘ CMD+⇧ SHIFT+4) end up being twice the size compared to how they appear on-screen.

How can I stop this from happening?

  • 6
    Twice the size? Like literally 4x the pixel density? Screen shots usually capture a 1:1 pixel density image. Can you check the image properties in Preview to make sure it's really 2x the width and 2x the height of your retina display which is either 2880×1800 (15") or 2560×1600 (13"). – Ian C. Oct 13 '13 at 23:16
  • 3
    A screencap of a retina display has the same number of pixels originally displayed. When shared in many other contexts (eg, pasted on the web), the higher DPI information is lost, so it appears twice as big. 2880x1800 is a pretty freaking big image. – Steve Bennett Sep 26 '15 at 2:48
  • 1
    Are you opening them in Preview.app? When viewing any image on a Retina display, Preview uses four screen pixels to display one image pixel. The benefit is most images appear at a traditional physical size, but screenshots of the display itself appear quadrupled. Other image editors, like Acorn and Photoshop, use one screen pixel per image pixel, so your screenshots will appear at a normal size. – duozmo Jan 18 '16 at 19:30
  • It's a great pity AffinityPhoto does not include a Droplet system :) – Fattie Jan 30 '16 at 18:07
  • Had never noticed this. To me it happens only with screenshots taken via CMD+SHIFT+3 (entire screen) but not those taken via CMD+SHIFT+4 (selected area of screen). – ShreevatsaR Nov 4 '16 at 19:52

11 Answers 11


Here is the most convenient solution (Taken from http://www.quora.com/How-can-I-get-my-retina-Mac-to-not-take-screenshots-that-are-too-big and modified a bit)

Use OsX embedded Automator to downsize screenshots automatically after they taken.

  1. Open /Applications/Automator
  2. Create a "Folder Action"
  3. At the top of the window, where it says "Folder Action receives file and folders added to", select "Desktop"
  4. From the panel on the left, select "Files & Folders" and drag the item "Filter Finder Items" to the right panel.
  5. Add the following conditions to the Filter Finder Items action: Name begins with "Screen Shot"; Kind is image.
  6. (Optional step: if you want to keep copy of originals) - From the Actions list on the left, find "Copy Finder Items" and drag it to the panel on the right. Set the destination folder for the image copy (for example: "To: Pictures")
  7. In the Actions library on the left, click on "Photos" and drag the "Scale Images" action to the right panel.
  8. In the Scale Images action, select "By Percentage" from the drop-down and set the value to 50.
  9. Select File > Save and give the Folder Action a snappy name like "Smaller Screenshot Copy"


Here is saved workflow file

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  • 1
    TIL about Automator! – Dan Tao Sep 13 '17 at 20:53
  • 1
    This seems to be broken in Mojave (at least the beta). I can run this on an individual item and it works, but the automator will not run when a screenshot is taken, possibly because Mojave now immediately brings up an iOS style edit preview in the corner. – Stephen Sep 6 '18 at 13:25
  • 1
    quick update: It seems that updating to Mojave (at least for me) required me to right click on my folder and setup/activate folder actions under Services (even though I never had to do this before). Once I did that (and disabled corner preview for screenshots) this action is working again. – Stephen Sep 6 '18 at 15:47

This is how I handle it. It's convoluted, but it works, and doesn't interrupt my screen-grab -> paste workflow wildly... I just screengrab, call an alfred workflow, and then paste.

CMD-CTRL-SHIFT-4 will capture a section of the screen. That section is copied to the OSX clipboard. Then I launch a script in terminal to save the clipboard contents to a temporary file, resize by half (72 dpi is half of 144 dpi), and copy the image back to the clipboard. This requires the use of several utilities - if someone knows of a way to accomplish this same feat with one simple utility please let me know.

I launch this script from Alfred to make it easy to get to:

pngpaste /tmp/ss.png
width=$((`sips -g pixelWidth /tmp/ss.png | cut -s -d ':' -f 2 | cut -c 2-` / 2))
sips -Z $width /tmp/ss.png
impbcopy /tmp/ss.png

pngpaste is on github: https://github.com/jcsalterego/pngpaste. sips comes with OSX. impbcopyis here: http://www.alecjacobson.com/weblog/?p=3816

LifeHacker had an article on sips http://lifehacker.com/5962420/batch-resize-images-quickly-in-the-os-x-terminal that I referenced, as well as this gist: gist.github.com/lanceli/4966207.

For Alfred, I just made a workflow that runs this as a bash script:

/Users/yourusername/bin/shrink_clipboard > /dev/null 2&>1
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  • I love this, in theory, but for me it either garbles the image or makes it blurry beyond recognition... – Dan Mar 4 '16 at 14:41
  • 2
    @Ze'ev Try replacing lines 2 and 3 with this: /usr/bin/sips -s dpiHeight 72.0 -s dpiWidth 72.0 /tmp/ss.png – tubedogg Aug 29 '16 at 21:12
  • Aha ... the issue is actually a "bug" in Google Chrome which resamples images incorrectly. If I paste the same clipboard into Mail.app, it looks just right. So this workaround effectively scales up the image for "sharp" pasting in Chrome, and you can then resize it with the Gmail resize corner... until they fix this... – Dan Aug 29 '16 at 22:44
  • 2
    @Ze'ev it's not just Chrome. Any app which discards the DPI information will display the image incorrectly. In this case, it's a combination of things - the (other) bug in Chrome causes the image to be resized on top of dropping the DPI info, which makes it look even worse. – tubedogg Aug 30 '16 at 2:55
  • I found that the following provided the lowest file size without affecting quality: screencapture -ioW $SCREENSHOT && pngquant -f --ext .png --skip-if-larger $SCREENSHOT && impbcopy $SCREENSHOT – jsuth Jul 4 '17 at 7:39

Two workarounds:

  1. If you have a non-Retina external monitor, drag the application window there and take the screenshot. That's what I do most of the time.

  2. This only works in browsers. Press ⌘CMD+- a couple of times to shrink your font to 50%, then screencap.

For instance:

enter image description here

Obviously the layout may change a bit, but it may be ok depending on your needs.

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  • clever workarounds! – Fattie Jan 30 '16 at 18:04

Your best bet is to use a third party utility like RetinaCapture.

This is quite cumbersome to use, but gives you what you're looking for, and provides the option for generating both 1x and 2x screen captures at the same time, which is helpful if you're building a website:

enter image description here

enter image description here

I expect that there is a setting somewhere to do this (com.apple.screencapture seems the best candidate); but I can't find it.

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  1. Take screenshot.
  2. Paste screenshot into Evernote.
  3. Copy screenshot from Evernote.
  4. Paste screenshot where intended.
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  • Nice, I put it in Evernote Helper (in the menubar) and works. – huyz Aug 14 '17 at 10:43

I used a hybrid of Dan Key and JustinParker's answers and created an Automator workflow that executed a bash script.

Automator workflow

This makes a copy of the original file, and it also accepts multiple inputs. Simply export as an application and then drag-and-drop anything into it to get a "non-retina" version of it at 72ppi and half the pixel resolution.

The bash code is:

for f in "$@"
    width=$((`sips -g pixelWidth "$f" | cut -s -d ':' -f 2 | cut -c 2-` / 2))
    sips -s dpiHeight 72.0 -s dpiWidth 72.0 -Z $width "$f"
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When you say your screenshots "end up" twice the size, I suspect you're sending them to people who are viewing them on non-retina displays. If so, that's to be expected – the pixel density on your display is higher, so when they view a screenshot taken from your machine on theirs, it'll appear physically larger.

One workaround for this, if you're sending the screenshots via OS X Mail, is to set the Image Size setting for attached images to "Large" instead of "Actual Size." That'll scale down the attached image such that it'll appear "normal" when viewed on a non-retina display.

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  • 4
    There are lots of cases where your retina screenshot will look twice as big, even on your own Retina display. Uploading to any website that ignores the DPI setting, for starters. – Steve Bennett Mar 2 '15 at 1:59
  • @SteveBennett The PNGs created by taking screenshots don't have DPI information. – duozmo Jan 18 '16 at 19:31
  • Huh, that's disappointing. – Steve Bennett Jan 19 '16 at 1:27
  • 1
    No, 72 dpi is standard on the internet. See the clear example I put in to the question (it's amazing you've never noticed this.) The fact that Apple makes the decision to save it at 144 dpi, is just a poor decision by them, for now. (Sure, maybe in 20 years "everyone" will abstract out the DPI concept, as Apple now do. For now it's just totally useless and silly.) – Fattie Jan 30 '16 at 18:05
  • "The PNGs created by taking screenshots don't have DPI information" To see the DPI information you need only open in Preview (ie, "double click") and look at the info panel which gives the DPI information. – Fattie Jan 30 '16 at 18:06

use the following addon for firefox


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  • 1
    Please add some information what it does etc. – Rob Sep 30 '14 at 15:01

Right Click Automator Workflow Service

There are some great answers here, but I wanted something a little more optional and a little less automatic.

I created a new Service in Automator called Create Non-Retina Version which can be called from right clicking on any image file in Finder.

Here's how it's used:

1. Find retina image.

enter image description here

2. Right click on retina image and find our new Service at the bottom.

enter image description here

3. Non-Retina (50% scaled) image gets generated.

enter image description here

The Result

Default Image:

enter image description here

Non-Retina Image:

enter image description here

The Automator Workflow

It's easy enough to create yourself (man, Automator is a hidden and neglected gem in MacOS) but here is the workflow that you can download and double click to install.

Create Non-Retina Version Workflow

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Monosnap can do this quite well. There is an advanced setting "Shrink Retina snaps".

It has a similar capture area shortcut ⌥ Option+⌘ CMD+5 which copies the image to your clipboard.

Other than that it can do a lot more, such as screen recordings and directly uploading your screen grabs to the web for easy sharing.

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If you are looking for a simple one time solution you can change image size in Preview app (taken from here):

  1. Open the Screenshot in Preview
  2. Select “Adjust Size…” from the Tools menu
  3. Change the Width and Height to 50 percent of the original
  4. Change the Resolution to 72 pixels/inch

Btw, you can see image metadata (dpi, size, etc.) in the Preview app as well, just click Tools > Show Inspector (taken from here).

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