One of the standard mac-applications I use a lot in my work at school is Grab, which allows me to take screenshots on for instance graphs and figures displayed on my screen. A minor annoyance with this particular application is the inability to cancel the screenshot when using the »selection« option (ie. the one that allows you to mark a specific rectangular portion of the screen, to be saved as an image). When I click the selection option, a pop-up window appears, stating that I with my mouse can pick an area to be saved as screenshot; this pop-up window also includes a cancelletion button, which can be used to cancel the screenshot before I start marking the area I want to save – after I start marking the area of the screen I want to save, there does however not seem to be any way to cancel the process (since there is no way to click the cancellation-button without releasing the mouse, and thus saving the screenshot), which is problematic when I, for instance, try to take a screenshot of a graph, only to discover that I have chosen my place of origen, such that some of the labels can't be included in the screenshot.

I do acknowledge that it only takes a few seconds to delete a failed screenshot and try again, but this is still quite annoying the times when I need to get a graph or figure just right and end up trying to make the selection many times. In such situations, it would be very helpful if only there was some keyboard-shortcut to cancel the selection, but as far as I have found, there doesn't seem to be any.

My question is, therefore, does any way of canceling the selection screenshots exist.

2 Answers 2


Grab is only actually the 'face' of the Mac screen capture experience.

You never need to launch it unless you want a delayed shot, with a 10 second wait before the shot is taken. That's the only thing [afaik] it can do that the regular built-in screen capture hot-keys can't.

To do a regular capture, without launching Grab, just hit Cmd ⌘ Shift ⇧ 4 & a crosshair cursor will appear. Just drag a rectangle, same as in Grab & a screenshot will appear on your desktop.

this is a screen capture, put into a quote block so you can see it's not just regular text

enter image description here

You can do this from anywhere in the Mac - any app, any time [except in some games].

To cancel - at any time, even in the middle of a grab, just hit Esc

Another very cool thing it can do...

After hitting Cmd ⌘ Shift ⇧ 4 then tap the Spacebar & you can screen-grab any entire window, App or folder, complete with fancy drop-shadow, by just clicking the window...

enter image description here

Just for the sake of completeness, if you hit Cmd ⌘ Shift ⇧ 3 instead, you will capture the entire content of your screen[s].


In addition to the (good) answer you can re-assign the keyboard shortcuts to shortcut into the clipboard and not into a file. In case of an unwanted screenshot you don't have to delete; you could simply redo the capture and directly paste it into other applications.

This tipp is hard to be found generally ;)

But to only sometimes "capture to clipboard" you could also use the normal shortcuts but hold down the "Control" key too. This could be done while using the standard shortcut (Cmd+Shift+4+Control) or when the selection is done (i. e. before releasing the mouse button you press Control).

  • 1
    What are the steps required to do the reassignment mentioned in the first paragraph?
    – nohillside
    Commented Apr 25 at 8:09

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