According to the Mac support docs, I should be able to use Command-Shift-Control-4 to take an area screenshot to the clipboard.

This doesn't work. What am I doing wrong? Whether I use an external keyboard or not it doesn't work.

Command-Shift-4 works just fine. I'm on 10.11.6

  • 1
    Are you certain that where you're pasting it can accept it, & that you performed no other clipboard action in between? It's not something I normally use, but tested to Photoshop just fine. Also confirmed copying some text afterwards will kill the image in the buffer
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 17:00
  • Yes, if I copy an image from the browser it works just fine. Also, the crosshairs never change as they do with Command-Shift-4.
    – Zamicol
    Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 17:06
  • 1
    hmm... does cmd/shift/ctrl/3 work to grab the entire screen? I'm thinking key conflict [but idk where]
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 17:08
  • 1
    Checked they're enabled in sys prefs/Keyboard/shortcuts/screen shots? [You can tell I'm running out of ideas ;)
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 17:11
  • 1
    Ah! Thank you! New to mac. I didn't see what it was, but I hit "Restore Defaults" and that fixed it.
    – Zamicol
    Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 17:18

5 Answers 5


Things to check...

  • The receiving app can accept the format, .png by default.
  • The buffer hasn't been replaced with other content, text etc.
  • If Cmd ⌘ Ctrl ⌃ Shift ⇧ 3 would work to capture the entire screen to clipboard.
  • That the key commands are on & set to defaults in System Prefs > Keyboard > Shortcuts > Screen Shots & also that resetting to defaults doesn't generate an orange warning triangle that another shortcut is using the same key command.
  • Brilliant thank you! Keyboard in system prefs worked for me!
    – DocAsh59
    Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 14:22
  • still no luck for me Commented Jun 26, 2018 at 11:09
  • the only app I can paste a screenshot into is discord Commented Jun 26, 2018 at 11:09

If it’s a MacBook Pro with touchbar make sure the camera icon is not in the touchbar

  • 1
    What is the significance of the camera icon here, and how can one make it disappear?
    – nohillside
    Commented Aug 4, 2018 at 13:34

If it's a MacBook Pro with touchbar, look at the touchbar. You should see three options:

  • Selected Portion
  • Window
  • Entire Screen

Select the first option and that will start being your new default.


In my case, it turned out be Quicksilver and specifically the 'clipboard plugin' in Quicksilver that was causing the problem for some reason.

As soon as I disabled the shortcut to paste from the clipboard for cmd-ctrl-shift-4 (and 3), then it started working again!


I fixed a Mac screenshot bug with finder relaunch; you can try that, it might work for your case.

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