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?

8 Answers 8


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.

  • Oh wow, I've needed to know this forever
    – jlarson
    Commented Jun 4, 2014 at 23:26
  • P.s. don't forget to click outside the selected area in order for the cursor to pick up the tooltip on hover! (I suspect that's what is happening in the animated gif when the cursor briefly disappears off to the left before returning to hover over the link to generate the tooltip.)
    – Dɑvïd
    Commented Feb 18, 2020 at 6:24

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

  • 2
    Some great answers here, but for my use case, this turned out to be the simple trick I needed ! Commented Jul 1, 2016 at 1:24
  • 2
    This was the simplest. Perfect.
    – traday
    Commented Jul 29, 2016 at 18:22
  • 1
    Tried a couple of solutions which worked great. But this is the simplest. Commented May 25, 2017 at 5:03
  • 1
    Simplest! This should be marked as the answer! Commented Feb 13, 2020 at 9:06

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.

  • Thanks, I didn't know about Grab. Seems like a great solution to keep the cursor in the picture.
    – Ben Siver
    Commented Feb 25, 2014 at 16:42
  • Grab utility has been removed in Mojave
    – pkamb
    Commented Apr 3, 2019 at 17:31
  • There's also a timer in the Screenshot app, you'll find it in in the Options menu
    – Sam
    Commented Feb 25, 2021 at 13:02

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

  • This is really nice, but only seems to work in Safari for me - not in Chrome. Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 13:50
  • I was able to bring up the tooltip, then hit cmd+shift+4, and I got the selection crosshairs with the tooltip still visible. Commented Sep 28, 2019 at 15:23

+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

  • 1
    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
    Commented Feb 25, 2014 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
    Commented Feb 25, 2014 at 16:21
  • Doesn't seem to work for external screens Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 14:55

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


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

This was taken from this site.

screen capture

  • I discovered earlier that this is actually browser specific behavior. See my first comment on the accepted answer.
    – Ben Siver
    Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 22:36

Simple way to do this : a small trick

 1. just open you screen , for which you want to take screen shot 
 2. point to tool-tip , it will show that tooltip .
 3  then capture whole screen by Command+Shift+3
 4. preview above captured image , and expand to full screen 
 5. now use Command+Shift+4 to capture tool-tip
  • Tooltip will disappear when you press command Shift.
    – James
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 18:40

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