Pressing Cmd + Tab brings up the application switcher in macOS. I'd like to take a screenshot of this view.

I've tried:

  • Opening the app switcher with Cmd + Tab, holding Cmd, and then pressing Shift and 3 at the same time to attempt to activate the usual Cmd + Shift and 3 screenshot keyboard shortcut.

    It results in the app switcher switching to the next app and no screenshot getting captured.

  • Changing the screenshot keyboard shortcut to F6 or Shift + /, which were unmapped before. Now after opening the app switcher using Cmd + Tab, holding Cmd, and then pressing this key combination again results in no screenshot getting captured.

Is it possible to take a screenshot of the app switcher? I'm happy to install additional software to achieve this.

6 Answers 6


Use the timer option in the new screenshot popup app.

Cmd ⌘ Shift ⇧ 5
Select Capture Entire Screen on the left & 5 seconds from the Options menu

enter image description here

Click Capture.
During that 5s countdown, hit Cmd ⌘ Tab ⇥

The resulting image will contain the switcher [intentionally tiny picture]

enter image description here

Interestingly, whilst composing this answer I discovered you can open the Screenshot app, then take a picture of it using the 'old' Cmd ⌘ Shift ⇧ 3 command ;)


In even older versions of MacOS (I did this in 10.11 El Capitan), you can use the Grab tool, found in the Utilities folder.

  1. Launch the Grab application.
  2. From the menu, select Capture > Timed Screen. Timed Screen Grab dialog
  3. Click Start Timer, and hold down Cmd + Tab for about 10 seconds until the Grab dialog disappears and the screen flashes.
  4. Save the capture. Grab saves in TIFF format, but you can use Preview to crop, rotate, and export the image in another format. Screen capture of switcher

You can use the timer from the default app Screenshot in macOS.

Open the application.

Then, select the 10 s or 5s timer.

Also, prefer to take fullscreen

Click on 10s and then press your Application Switcher and wait.

It will take the required screenshot

enter image description here


Update: Apparently there's an improved built-in screenshot tool available in the recent versions of macOS, i.e. macOS Mojave and macOS Catalina (and as discussed in the other answers). The approach mentioned below using QuickTime Player tool works in macOS releases prior to macOS Mojave too.

Is it possible to take a screenshot of the app switcher? I'm happy to install additional software to achieve this.

Yes, you can take the desired screenshot. And there's no need to install any additional 3rd-party software. Just follow the instructions below.

  1. Launch the built-in QuickTime Player.app.

  2. In the QuickTime Player menu bar, invoke the command, File → New Screen Recording, or use the keyboard shortcut, Control + Command + N.

    (If you are running macOS Catalina, you may be asked to grant QuickTime Player.app permission to access and record your screen. Grant the necessary permission by going to System Preferences → Security & Privacy → Privacy → Screen Recording. You'd need to relaunch QuickTime Player app for the permission to come into effect.)

  3. Now record the screen normally, launch the apps that you want to be visible in app switcher, and invoking the app switcher as desired.

  4. Once you have the recording ready, you can play it back using QuickTime Player, pause at opportune moment, and take the app switcher screenshot from the video.

The end result would give you the screenshot desired.

  • 2
    cmd + shift + 5
    – anki
    Feb 21, 2020 at 9:57
  • 1
    @ankii Thanks. That's a much shorter approach. I'd leave this answer as an alternate approach.
    – Nimesh Neema
    Feb 21, 2020 at 9:58
  • 1
    Just clarifying, I meant video recording in cmd+shift+5, not timer-enabled screenshot like other two answers
    – anki
    Feb 21, 2020 at 10:01

Record the whole screen video. QuickTime Player provides a screen recording function, and there are other screen recording software out there.

While it's going, perform the app switch and the rest of your procedure. Stop and save the recording. Play it back, and export frames or screenshot a paused part to grab the desired image. Make sure that it's full-screen at each point before you crop it, to maximize clarity of the screenshots.

  1. launch /Applications/Utilities/terminal.App

  2. type sleep 5 && kill -STOP `ps -ef |grep "/System/Library/CoreServices/Dock.app/Contents/MacOS/Dock"|grep -v grep |awk '{ print $2 }'`

  3. press Cmd-Tab to show the App Switcher and wait for 5 seconds, the App Switcher window is going to be "froze"

  4. launch screen capture app, you can capture the App Switcher window now enter image description here

  5. don't forget type kill -CONT `ps -ef |grep "/System/Library/CoreServices/Dock.app/Contents/MacOS/Dock"|grep -v grep |awk '{ print $2 }'`to release the Dock

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