If I take a screenshot with Shift ⇧ + Command ⌘ + 4 + Space, then I get one of the two images:

Either way the saved image is surrounded by the shadow halo. I could then edit it out by hand (using Preview) to discard the shadow, or I could use Shift ⇧ + Command ⌘ + 4 and try to pinpoint the boundary by hand, but neither lets me get a pixel-perfect boundary easily.

Is there a convenient way to save a window without its shadow?

  • 8
    Quick solution as posted by @asherkin below: Hold the Option key while clicking (after doing the Cmd-Shift-4, Space dance) and the saved screenshot will not have the drop shadow !
    – iolsmit
    Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 16:26

6 Answers 6


You can disable the shadow added when capturing an entire window by executing the following command from the Terminal:

defaults write com.apple.screencapture disable-shadow -bool TRUE

You'll need to reboot or restart the UIServer for the changes to take effect:

killall SystemUIServer

You can undo this preference and re-enable shadows by executing the following:

defaults write com.apple.screencapture disable-shadow -bool FALSE; killall SystemUIServer
  • 9
    Technically, a fresh install of OSX doesn't have that default at all. Running defaults read com.apple.screencapture disable-shadow gives you The domain/default pair of (com.apple.screencapture, disable-shadow) does not exist. Therefore the more accurate way to undo the change is with defaults delete com.apple.screencapture disable-shadow. Commented Feb 5, 2015 at 6:20
  • 1
    Be sure to check out the better answer! apple.stackexchange.com/a/120017/41827 Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 7:08
  • works on macOS Sierra Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 20:48
  • Don't bother changing the settings. Check the answer below.
    – Vic Jang
    Commented Dec 13, 2017 at 10:19
  • FWIW this stopped working for me on Catalina. I had to resort to the option key solution.
    – tir38
    Commented Mar 12, 2021 at 18:18

I know this is an old question - but I can never find this information when searching for it (just the information in the accepted answer to turn it off globally), and end up just trying random keys each time.

If you hold option while clicking (after doing the Shift ⇧ + Command ⌘ + 4, Space dance), the saved screenshot will not have the drop shadow.

I'm unsure if this only applies to Mountain Lion and later.

  • 2
    Works in Mavericks. That's awesome!
    – daGUY
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 20:11
  • 2
    Superb - easiest answer by far!
    – James Adam
    Commented Jun 5, 2014 at 23:37
  • 2
    Works in El Capitan as well! Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 0:04
  • 2
    This is the real answer. @Calaf you should changed your choice if possible. Commented Jul 5, 2016 at 22:05
  • 3
    Works in macOS Sierra too.
    – xuchunyang
    Commented Feb 19, 2017 at 17:58

Another option is to use screencapture:

screencapture -oic

-o disables shadows, -i captures an area, and -c copies the image to the clipboard.

This would use a timer of 5 seconds and save the image to a file:

screencapture -oi -T5 /tmp/screencapture.png

Run screencapture -h to list all options:

$ screencapture -h
screencapture: illegal option -- h
usage: screencapture [-icMPmwsWxSCUtoa] [files]
  -c         force screen capture to go to the clipboard
  -C         capture the cursor as well as the screen. only in non-interactive modes
  -d         display errors to the user graphically
  -i         capture screen interactively, by selection or window
               control key - causes screen shot to go to clipboard
               space key   - toggle between mouse selection and
                             window selection modes
               escape key  - cancels interactive screen shot
  -m         only capture the main monitor, undefined if -i is set
  -M         screen capture output will go to a new Mail message
  -o         in window capture mode, do not capture the shadow of the window
  -P         screen capture output will open in Preview
  -s         only allow mouse selection mode
  -S         in window capture mode, capture the screen not the window
  -t<format> image format to create, default is png (other options include pdf, jpg, tiff and other formats)
  -T<seconds> Take the picture after a delay of <seconds>, default is 5
  -w         only allow window selection mode
  -W         start interaction in window selection mode
  -x         do not play sounds
  -a         do not include windows attached to selected windows
  -r         do not add dpi meta data to image
  -l<windowid> capture this windowsid
  -R<x,y,w,h> capture screen rect
  files   where to save the screen capture, 1 file per screen

You can also use toggle-osx-shadows to disable shadows everywhere in OS X:

git clone https://github.com/pufuwozu/toggle-osx-shadows.git;cd toggle-osx-shadows;make;mv toggle-osx-shadows /usr/local/bin;toggle-osx-shadows

  • 2
    also very useful when one wants to capture from a script.
    – Calaf
    Commented May 9, 2012 at 17:09

Just use Shift ⇧ + Command ⌘ + 4 + Space, and hold down option when you click to select the window.

  • Why did nobody see this before?
    – Manngo
    Commented May 1, 2017 at 3:58
  • The ultimate answer.
    – Jay Wang
    Commented Dec 11, 2019 at 22:21

Another useful option is to use TinkerTool. Go to TinkerTool and under the General tab, you'll find an option to disable shadows only when taking screenshots (along with several other related options):


Just hold the Option key while taking a window screen shot.

  • works for Ventura 13.1 Commented Jan 7, 2023 at 17:44

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