I'm using a program that exports an image to the clipboard. If I goto Finder->Edit->"Show Clipboard" a windows pops up showing the image.

How do I save this image to the Finder? If I goto the Finder->Edit-> "paste" is greyed out.

Things I've tried:

  • pbpaste doesn't seem to see the image but the man page seems to insinuate that it only understands Encapsulated PostScript (EPS) .ps files

  • New from Clipboard in SnagIt works but I'm guessing that it creates a new file and I'd like to get the original file.

  • Paste into PowerPoint puts the file there...but I can't seem to take it out of there. IE, dragging the image from PowerPoint to Finder doesn't work.

  • I'm not sure how to solve this without using another app to be able to paste to, then save the result, but I suspect the cause is that the image in the clipboard isn't a file at all yet, it's just 'an image'. You need to be able to get it to something that can make it into a file.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Apr 25, 2020 at 11:52
  • 1
    @Tetsujin is correct. And also the idea that a digital copy of something in the clipboard is different, somehow, than something you paste into SnagIt (or anything else) is incorrect. Finder is nothing more than a file manager for other programs. Even the show clipboard function is an app that the Finder calls to display the contents of the clipboard. Commented Apr 25, 2020 at 14:48
  • As an aside, in PowerPoint you can right / ctrl click on the image -> save picture
    – Tim
    Commented Apr 25, 2020 at 22:26
  • @Tim when I do the save as picture in PowerPoint, it only seems to save as PNG and I think that the original is a pdf. So I think that it's converting it.
    – Alex
    Commented Apr 26, 2020 at 15:41
  • 1
    I vote to reopen this as the related question is asking about resolution too, whereas this is as simple as 'how do I save a file that's on the clipboard', and since there's many ways to do it, it would be useful for there to be some more answers.
    – stevec
    Commented Nov 9, 2022 at 11:56

2 Answers 2


An easy way is to use the built-in Preview app.

  1. Copy the image.
  2. Open Preview.
  3. Press: +N
    • A new window will open with your copied image.
  4. On the menu bar, click File > Save, or press +S, and a Save As sheet will appear.

Try Notes app. Or email. They can take copied files. Then you can right click and save where you want.

  • I picked the Preview answer because Notes and Mail seem to pass it through Preview. This was also helpful though, Thanks.
    – Alex
    Commented Apr 26, 2020 at 15:51
  • I imagined that it was a non-photo file (like pdf, doc, zip etc), of which a thumbnail "image" is seen in show clipboard.
    – anki
    Commented Apr 26, 2020 at 15:52
  • Turns out it was a PDF. (had assumed it was a PNG until getting the above answers)
    – Alex
    Commented Apr 26, 2020 at 15:56

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