I've explicitly set the built in screenshot.app to save captures to the desktop. I make a screen capture, drag the preview to a conversation in a chat app, and wait for it to appear on the desktop in order to drag it to an additional conversation. Nothing happens. It never appears.

It's not in my user folder either, nor in documents nor pictures folders. Where is it saved?

  • 2
    When you "drag the preview to a conversation in a chat app," you're probably moving the screenshot into the chat, and removing it from the desktop. Try option + drag, which should leave a copy of the screenshot in the original location (the desktop) while creating a copy in the destination (here, the chat app). May 11 at 13:56
  • @DavidSupportsMonica Thanks — no such luck! I can't think of any explanation other than "if you use the preview, we'll disregard your settings and throw away your capture" , but it's not obvious to me whether that's correct, and I kind of don't expect that from Apple in general.
    – Andreas
    May 11 at 13:59
  • 1
    I've heard of this happening if you drag the preview rather than waiting for the file to save on the desktop. idk if it can be fixed other than by waiting or disabling the preview.
    – Tetsujin
    May 11 at 14:01
  • 1
    @Tetsujin Got it. I wasn't aware it was possible to disable the preview. That's good enough to prevent me from triggering this trap in the future 🙂
    – Andreas
    May 11 at 14:03
  • Is "screenshot.app" macOS's built-in screenshot functionality, or an aftermarket app? May 11 at 14:04

2 Answers 2


I don't know whether this is supposed to be a feature or a bug, but it appears that if you drag the preview anywhere before the file is created on the desktop, then the file is never created.

The 'fix' is to wait for the file to appear on the desktop.
You can speed this up by disabling the preview. To do this, you need to run the snapshot app once in 'stay-open' mode, which you can do quickly from Cmd ⌘ Shift ⇧ 5 rather than 4
Click Options, disable 'Show Floating Thumbnail'.

enter image description here

  • I'm sure it's a feature, so that you don't get screenshot files cluttering up the place if you don't actually want to keep them.
    – nekomatic
    May 13 at 9:29

I am not sure why you need that app. I use "command + shift + 4" to select an area and then I can "command + v" everywhere, multiple times. No need to save it, the clipboard will handle the image. You can paste it on web browsers, Whatsapp, Word, etc. If you really need to keep the file, use "command + shift + 3" instead, and it will appear on the desktop.

More options here: https://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-screenshot-on-mac

Now to make things easier, I wrote a small service (or quick action) to choose common file names that I use often. So after taking a screenshot into the clipboard, I can select any folder and, using a shortcut, it will present me this box:

enter image description here

I can choose the name, and the file will be saved in that folder with the proper ending. Like this:

enter image description here

It will use the Preview App for just a second and close it. Probably there are better methods to do this, but it works for me. You can edit the service to add whatever options you want.

on run {input, parameters}
set the new_path to ":Volumes:" & (item 1 of input as string) & "Screenshot_from"
set save_location to my replace_chars(new_path, ":", "/")
set ending to (choose from list {"Feature", "Trailer", "Audio"} with title "Assets" with prompt "Paste Picture™" & return & "Version 1.0 " & return & return & "Select the name ending:" cancel button name "  Nevermind 👎  " OK button name "    Let's go 👍    " default items {"Feature"}) as text
if (ending as text) is "false" then
else if ending is "Feature" then
    set save_location to save_location & "_Feature.png"
else if ending is "Trailer" then
    set save_location to save_location & "_Trailer.png"
else if ending is "Audio" then
    set save_location to save_location & "_Audio.png"
end if
tell application "Preview"
end tell
repeat until application "Preview" is running
    delay 0.2
end repeat
tell application "Preview"
    delay 0.2
    tell application "System Events"
        keystroke "n" using {command down}
    end tell
    repeat until (count of windows) > 0
        delay 0.2
    end repeat
    save front document in POSIX file save_location
    delay 0.2
    close every document
end tell
end run

on replace_chars(this_text, search_string, replacement_string)
    set AppleScript's text item delimiters to the search_string
    set the item_list to every text item of this_text
    set AppleScript's text item delimiters to the replacement_string
    set this_text to the item_list as string
    set AppleScript's text item delimiters to ""
    return this_text
end replace_chars
  • This seems to be solving a different issue - how to rename & set a specific save location - rather than just 'fix' what the OP was asking for - why the file never saves to desktop. Re: "I am not sure why you need that app." - because it's built-into macOS & is designed for just that purpose.
    – Tetsujin
    May 13 at 7:01
  • @Tetsujin sure, but apparently he needs to paste the screenshot over several windows, not exactly use the application. However, if he wants to keep the file, this script can help. It is just two clicks away from healthy storing. May 13 at 15:04
  • Strictly, they were asking how to drag it multiple times. Once it's on the desktop this can be done as many times as needed. Alternatively, it could be captured entirely to clipboard & pasted repeatedly. It's just the preview that screws up the desired operation.
    – Tetsujin
    May 13 at 15:30
  • @Tetsujin yes, I can see you have a better option, but I bet you that many people would benefit from another point of view, even if they have to change the service to suit their needs. I have been here for a while researching, sometimes all you need is one step to create your own solution. 1 hour ago

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