On Macs OS X 10.11.6, the ⌘ + shift + 4 key combination saves a screenshot to the desktop by default.
Is there a way to change this destination to a custom directory?


2 Answers 2


If by "user selected directory" you are referring to a directory (other than the desktop) that is defined prior to taking the screenshot, then you can easily use the defaults command inside Terminal to change this for all future screenshots. If however, you mean changing the directory as the screenshot is taken, this is not possible as far as I am aware of.

  1. Defining the screenshot location:
    defaults write com.apple.screencapture location /path/to/new/location
    To apply changes: killall SystemUIServer
  2. Defining the screenshot type:
    defaults write com.apple.screencapture type png - change extension as required.
    To apply changes: killall SystemUIServer
  3. Enable/Disable image shadows:
    defaults write com.apple.screencapture disable-shadow -bool true
    defaults write com.apple.screencapture disable-shadow -bool false
    To apply changes: killall SystemUIServer

As Steve mentioned, you can also take a look at TinkerTool to make adjustments, however the commands I referenced above should be what you are looking for. Let me know how you get on.

  • What version of OS X/macOS are you using? Did you test defaults write com.apple.screencapture type .png, because I get the error message "Your screen shot can’t be saved. Unable to create type string." Using the . in the type designator is not correct, it should just be one of the following, jpg, gif, pdf, png or tiff without a leading . Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 3:04
  • @user3439894 You are absolutely correct. I am using macOS 10.13.2 and was assuming the OP was too, as no mention of an earlier OS was given until the OP clarified (in an edit) they are using 10.11.6. Obviously, it seems that Apple has made changes to how it accepts file extensions in commands. Nevertheless, I have made the adjustments, kudos for pointing it out.
    – ProGrammer
    Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 3:29

There is indeed a defaults command that will set the directory that screen shots will be saved. I can't help you with that. I have used a (free) utility that will set the format of the picture (PNG, JPG, PDF, etc.) and the directory they go in. It's called TinkerTool, and I recommend it as a good way to do what you want plus a lot of other (obscure?) settings normally hidden.

  • TinkerTool is among the first utilities I install on any new Mac; +1 to this. Note that it's just a pretty front-end to options that already exist in the Mac OS, which means (a) its developers don't accept feature requests, and (b) it's quite solid and in my experience doesn't cause any problems.
    – Wildcard
    Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 3:24

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