When I take a screenshot in macOS Mojave, I get a handy screen with Markup tools to edit the screenshot. But I’ve never been able to get the “highlight” feature to work.

I want to highlight text on a page in yellow, similar to a highlighter pen. It looks like it should do it, but the highlighter tool is always disabled. Nothing I do seems to enable it.

Does this tool work? How can I use it?

enter image description here

  • 2
    A screenshot contains no text, it's a picture.
    – Tetsujin
    Sep 9, 2019 at 18:28
  • 4
    Why is that tool shown when I take a screenshot? It should be able to overlay a yellow mark on part of the screenshot, right?
    – Nate
    Sep 9, 2019 at 18:31
  • 5
    Sure, I don’t expect it to recognize that it’s text and highlight the literal text, I want it to put a yellow mark over the text. For comparison, a highlighter pen that you use on paper doesn’t need to identify text. You can swipe it over the area and it makes a (not perfect but fine) yellow semi-transparent rectangle.
    – Nate
    Sep 9, 2019 at 18:34
  • 4
    You're pointing to the highlight tool which is for text only. It will not be enabled for something where there's no text. You need to use the yellow-filled rectangle tool or a a 3rd party tool to do what you want.
    – fsb
    Sep 9, 2019 at 18:53
  • 5
    Coming from Windows, I was also confused by this as the Windows screenshot tool has a built-in "free-form" highlighter, which allows you to make highlighter marks on the image itself.
    – mb-ca
    Sep 17, 2020 at 21:07

6 Answers 6


1.Use the Draw tool in the upper left (Use sketch tool to the left if you want rectangular highlights

2.Change line thickness to as thick as you wish (very thick)

3a. Change line color to yellow

3b. Under "Show Colors" in this box, open the advanced dialogue and change transparency to ~40% using slider at the bottom

Now you can use the draw function on Mac similar to how highlight worked in Windows.

Click "show colors" Opacity

highlighted example)


It is not possible.

This feature is either bugged or deprecated and the button wasn't removed. Note that the button does not appear in the Preview app when editing the a screenshot.

enter image description here


You can open the image with Preview and build your own sticky. Under the Tools menu go to Annotate and select a rectangle. Adjust size of rectangle and then set fill color to yellow and the line color to none. This results in a yellow rectangle. Now under Annotate select text. This puts a small text box on your image. Move this to inside yellow box and type in your own text. Now save the file as a jpeg or whatever you like and your image will have a yellow sticky on it. This maybe be to long a process for you but it works. See image below for an example.

enter image description here


Exporting the document as PDF might be another solution in addition to the above.

Example of pdf document:

enter image description here

Example of a screen shot document:

enter image description here


As an updated answer to this question:
since you can set your screenshots to be saved as PDF; e.g.

defaults write com.apple.screencapture type pdf

...(or can later export them as such, as mentioned) and modern operating systems, like Ventura and above feature "live text",
see: https://support.apple.com/guide/preview/prvw625a5b2c/mac

...you can now highlight text in your screenshots much easier than before, with the "Highlights and Notes" tool.

E.g. enter image description here


If you enable Handoff between your MacBook and iPhone or iPad, you can take a screenshot on your Mac and choose to markup the screenshot on a Handoff device. The screenshot will open in Markup on your iPhone/iPad.

You can then edit or highlight it on the phone (iPhone edit provides the highlighting feature). The edits will show up on the screenshot on your Mac.

  • 1
    Even if this works, it's not a solution to the problem in the question since the question talks about highlighting text and this feature doesn't enable anything that can't already be done on the Mac. I've added a screenshot of the button that needs to be pressed which resolved the issue in chat, but iPhone edit doesn't provide highlighting that macOS can't do, so this doesn't resolve the issue in the question.
    – grg
    Dec 15, 2020 at 14:03

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