Is it possible to make screenshots in vector format (SVG or PDF) instead of only in raster formats on OS X?

3 Answers 3


No, since the screenshots are simply taken from the pixels shown on-screen or off-screen.

However, the screenshots can be turned into vectors using software such as Adobe Illustrator, but the result won't be exact.

  • When you do a “page to pdf” you do preserve the vector data (svg images and logos, fonts...). So something could exist but doesn’t... Aug 12, 2020 at 21:39

Solution 1: Using a vector GUI widget API with PDF backend:

Actually, it is possible. Consider the fact that on screen objects are created by a widget API, and if this widget API is based on vector elements and have appropriate vector output backend, then it can output to vector formats like PDF.

Please look at the similar question, which also contains some working samples:

This needs Gtk+ widget library and Cairo as its GUI display and PDF generation backend, which both are available for Mac OS X. But as few applications in Mac OS X use Gtk+, this is not a general solution. I wanted to show the possibility of creating vector screenshots. If you are a developer, this may be useful for you.

Solution 2: Creating vector mockups:

For general applications, you can create mockups. Here you can find "Free Yosemite Vector GUI for Illustrator", which can be used to create mockups of your GUI. It includes all main UI Components:


Yosemite Vector GUI for Illustrator

  • How could the linked answer (which seems to work for Linux only) be made to work on OS X?
    – nohillside
    Sep 9, 2015 at 7:44
  • @patrix Both Gtk+ and Cairo are cross platform, and are available for Mac OS X. It is possible, so arguing that "screenshots are simply taken from the pixels", so vector screenshots are not possible is wrong.
    – Ho1
    Sep 9, 2015 at 7:51
  • OS X applications typically do not use Gtk+ but the frameworks supplied with OS X. So any general solution for OS X (which is what this question is about) would need to catch the drawing commands within the basic Cocoa libraries.
    – nohillside
    Sep 9, 2015 at 7:56
  • 1
    @patrix I have updated my answer to include the fact that is not a general solution, and I have also provided alternative ways to achieve reasonable vector mockups.
    – Ho1
    Sep 9, 2015 at 8:07
  • 1
    @patrix Have you developed with Cocoa? As it is a resolution independent toolkit, and provides a PDF backend, it may be possible to provide general solutions. Exporting UIView and NSViews to PDF seems to be possbile, with some issues. stackoverflow.com/questions/11948241/#comment50398792_11955836
    – Ho1
    Sep 9, 2015 at 8:41

If you're talking about webpages, you can use the Print to PDF feature of Safari and then open the PDF in a vector program.

This should make it easy to grab some SVG resources or to make a tutorial in a video editing program where you want to zoom in on some webpages without losing quality - for example.

  • Most of pdf to svg tools just embed the bitmap information into svg tags. Please correct me if I am wrong but such tools doesnt seems to generate any svg paths or vectors Aug 11, 2020 at 14:46
  • @AviMehenwal actually I believe you may be wrong. When an inline illustration or logo (svg) is embedded on a page, creating a pdf of that page will render the logo into the pdf file as vector. You can then use it in Illustrator to extract the svg image. No other technique does that. Yes, converting a page to pdf will not turn bitmap to raster but it’s the best I answer so far Aug 12, 2020 at 21:38

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