Is there something like the Windows Snipping Tool for OSX?

For those, who don't know about the tool, it's an easy to use software to take snapshot of any portion of screen, and is really useful in various situations.

  • 8
    can you please avoid using apple.stackexchange.com as a replacement for basic googling?
    – Alexander
    Commented Dec 20, 2011 at 22:01
  • 6
    @XAleXOwnZX I understand your concern, but I wouldn't expect to find the topvoted answer below, on Google. Moreover, I'm sure others also found it helpful.
    – Atul Goyal
    Commented Dec 21, 2011 at 8:07
  • 5
    First hit for "screenshot mac os x" on google is a page with extensive info on the shortcuts and their uses
    – Alexander
    Commented Dec 22, 2011 at 2:21
  • I did Google it, must have used different keywords but all I found was a bunch of third party softwares...
    – Atul Goyal
    Commented Dec 22, 2011 at 6:26
  • 6
    Oh well, next person to google this question will find this answer. Commented Dec 22, 2011 at 11:57

8 Answers 8


There is now a blog entry about Taking Screenshots in a Snap.

It's built into Mac OS.

  • ++3 captures the whole screen
  • ++4 captures a custom rectangle (click and drag over the screen region you want to capture)
  • ++4 then space captures a specific window (move the mouse cursor over the desired window, then click)

Press esc to cancel.

Screenshots are saved onto your Desktop and timestamped.

Holding control in addition to any of the sequences above causes the image to be copied instead of saved to the desktop.

By default the image format is png. However, you can change the format by typing in the Terminal:

defaults write com.apple.screencapture type image_format
killall SystemUIServer

Where image_format is one of jpg, tiff, pdf, png, bmp or pict (among others). If you omit the second line, you will need to log out and in again for the change to take effect.

The settings for the shortcuts in the system preferences are located at:
System Preferences → Keyboard → Keyboard Shortcuts → Screen Shots

The MacOS X application that enables screenshots is called Grab. It is located at /Applications/Utilities/Grab.app

  • 1
    awesome! the only problem being as a beginner Mac user I'm already overwhelmed with so many shortcuts!!! One more to remember! :D and I guess after the clicking and dragging the region is in memory so where do I paste it now? need to install an image editing program?
    – Atul Goyal
    Commented Dec 16, 2011 at 21:45
  • 2
    The screen shot should produce an image file (a .png?) on your Desktop. The built-in application Preview should allow you to open it. Commented Dec 16, 2011 at 21:55
  • @DavidRouse is right. I'll edit my answer.
    – gentmatt
    Commented Dec 16, 2011 at 22:28
  • 10
    Holding control in addition to the above shortcuts copies the desired selection to clipboard (like print screen on windows) rather than saving an image file to the desktop
    – Alexander
    Commented Dec 20, 2011 at 22:01
  • 2

If you don't want to remember the shortcut keys, you can also use the built-in Preview app.

Just launch Preview, then from the menu, select File, Take Screen Shot, then choose

  • From Selection - you will get a crosshair to drag
  • From Window - you will get to choose which window to grab
  • From Entire Screen - it will give a countdown first, so that you can get back to whatever app you want to take a picture of

It will then display the screenshot in Preview, and you can save, copy, paste, crop, etc. from there.

  • thanks for this - if you automate it, it behaves exactly like snipping tool (I put details 4 answers below)
    – dwilbank
    Commented Mar 8, 2014 at 3:44
  • Preview's Tools > Annotate menu provides the functionality I was missing from the snipping tool, namely the ability to highlight and otherwise draw on the screenshot.
    – Coren
    Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 3:36

Macworld magazine's senior editor Dan Frakes just posted a very good short video tutorial (with show transcript) about the screenshot features of Mac OS X. This includes how to use the Grab app from the Utilities folder. The video is at: http://www.macworld.com/article/164123/2011/12/mac_os_x_screenshot_secrets.html.
His show description: "Mac OS X makes it easy to take screenshots—images of your screen or objects on it. But even veteran Mac users are often unaware of the many options available for getting the perfect screenshot. Here's a quick look at these underused options."

  • The Grab app seems to be forgotten. Search for screen dump apps for OSX and it is almost never mentioned. I see no reason why.
    – LosManos
    Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 16:47

If you also need editing capabilities (e.g. like Windows Paint or however it's called these days), Skitch is a good add-on (and it's free).


Easycrop, or start with the insanely great (and free) SnapNDrag, from Yellow Mug — http://www.yellowmug.com/


You may like Snip, I used it for a while and I found it fantastic. You can download it from Mac App Store for free

  • id be scared of anything made by Tencent.
    – Brad
    Commented Mar 20, 2023 at 5:21

Of course, the most convenient way to snapshot on Mac is by pressing keyboard shortcuts, however, this traditional method lacks additional features like making annotations, uploading images online for sharing, etc. For this purposes, you can make use of professional Mac screenshot tools that features the same function as Snipping Tool.

Grab - A built-in screenshot tool on Mac that enables you to capture anything you see on screen.

Skitch - Easy tool that allows for capturing, annotating and sharing screenshots / images.

Jing - An effective screen capturing program that works for recording screen and taking screenshot.


Keyboard Maestro can drive Preview to behave exactly like snipping tool

F13 (in the same place as PrintScreen on Windows)

Open Preview.app

Select menu File/Take Screen Shot/From Selection

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .