I'd like to screenshot a drag operation on OSX (I'm using Mavericks). Specifically, I need to do the following:

  1. Hold down the control key
  2. Begin the drag
  3. Take a screenshot
  4. release the mouse button and control keys

The problem is, the various screen capture key combos (Command ⌘+Shift ⇧+3, etc) don't seem to trigger while the control key is held down. Is there any way around this?

4 Answers 4


Open Terminal and type the command below. From there you have 10 seconds before the screenshot is taken (you can do whatever you want or hold any keys you want in that time).

Afterwards, you can find the screenshot in the directory you executed the command.

screencapture -T 10 screenshot.jpg
  • Good idea -- Default format is a PNG, though..?
    – beroe
    Commented Feb 12, 2014 at 19:36
  • Is there an option that works with the <kbd>Command ⌘</kbd>+<kbd>Shift ⇧</kbd>+<kbd>4</kbd> version? Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 14:43

Pretty simple.

Go to System Preferences, Keyboard, Keyboard Shortcuts, Screen Shots.

From there you can double click the shortcut and change it to any shortcut with "ctrl" included.


Hope it works for you.


Can you give more context of how you want to use it? I was able to get a screen grab of a pop-up menu by control-clicking, then doing (Command ⌘+Control+Shift ⇧+3 (instead of releasing the mouse and dragging the selection). This saved a full screen capture to the clipboard, which I could then crop, etc.

You could redefine the keyboard shortcuts so that adding Control to the normal shortcut saves to a file, rather than making it save to the clipboard.

There is also the Grab program in Utilities, which lets you do timed screenshots, etc, and third party programs which offer even more options.


I have a slightly different suggestion. It could be worth looking at recording a video of the action and then creating a .gif animated image that shows the full action. This neatly sidesteps the problem and would most likely communicate the action better than a still image anyway.

The app that is most widely recommended for screen recording is ScreenFlow which is USD $99.99 on the Mac App Store. It is relatively expensive but I'm not sure what cheaper or free alternatives might be out there.

The app that is most widely recommended for creating a GIF from the resulting video is GIF Brewery which is USD $4.99 on the Mac App Store. Again, there are probably cheaper/free ways to do this.

There is an article I read a while ago that your question reminded me of. This is where I got the idea from.

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