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My muscle memory is very ingrained with Cmd + Shift + 4 to take screen snips, and this has been fine for a while.

However, from now on, I don't need to save my screen snips as files. I need to paste them directly to various places (e.g. online, or in documents).

How do I make Cmd + Shift + 4 save to clipboard instead of files (like Windows with Win + Shift + S)? My fingers are unable to grasp the concept of Cmd + Ctrl + Shift + 4 (that's just too many keys).

Ideally, and tl;dr, I'd like to swap the functionality of Cmd + Shift + 4 and Cmd + Ctrl + Shift + 4.

2 Answers 2

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System Prefs > Keyboard > Shortcuts > Screenshots

You can set them to anything you like, so long as it doesn't conflict with any existing command.

settings, keyboard shortcuts pane

Late edit to make this a more comprehensive answer;

  • For any single shot - these are not 'remembered' between shots…
  • If you tap Spacebar after your opening key command, the cursor turns into a camera. Clicking on any window will then capture the entire window, plus drop shadow, as above.
  • Holding Opt ⌥ as you click will remove the shadow.
  • Holding Ctrl ⌃ as you click will send it to clipboard instead of saved as a file.

Since macOS Mojave, many of these defaults can be overridden by using Cmd ⌘ Shift ⇧ 5 which brings up a user interface with many options, including both screenshot & video screen capture. These can be set to remember between sessions.

Screen shot dialog

One thing I also discovered a few years ago is that you can still invoke Cmd ⌘ Shift ⇧ 3 whilst the screenshot interface is open, so you can capture scenes that otherwise wouldn't be possible.

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    @ankiiiiiii - cmd/shift/4 as usual, but then tap the spacebar . The cursor turns into a camera icon & turns any window you hover over blue. Click your chosen window to get the entire window plus drop-shadow.
    – Tetsujin
    Jul 28, 2019 at 8:14
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    @ankiiiiiii Yep, spacebar turns it into window capture mode. If you don't want the shadow while in window capture mode, hold Option when you click.
    – Aloha
    Jul 31, 2019 at 2:50
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    I settled on just learning the new, longer shortcut. It was a disaster when I used a friend's macbook. I kept pasting whatever was on his clipboard rather than my screen snip, which landed on Desktop.
    – Aloha
    Aug 2, 2019 at 6:10
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    Yeah, there's always something to be said for 'learning to do it the accepted way' :)
    – Tetsujin
    Aug 2, 2019 at 6:12
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    this is great. I've turned the shortcuts for selected area to clipboard and selected area to file around. Since I typically want to use the clipboard one.
    – Flion
    Aug 16, 2022 at 15:25
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This works for me:

  1. Press Cmd+Shift+5
  2. Select Options
  3. Select Clipboard
  4. Exit

Cmd+Shift+4 from then on follows the option set here. Easily change options; no key reprogramming, etc. Ventura, MBP

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  • that's the correct/best answer imho.
    – low_rents
    Apr 5, 2023 at 8:44

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