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How to take a screenshot on a MacBook Pro

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There may be as many ways to take a screenshot off your 16-inch MacBook Pro as there are reasons to take them, but Apple could make it a lot more obvious what's possible and how to do it.

Whether it's just for speed as you want to capture a website page, or you need to show someone what's being shown on your display, taking a screenshot or grab of your MacBook Pro screen is handy. Apple doesn't exactly make it obvious how you do it, but the company does give you an almost ridiculous number of options once you start.

Two crucial things before you take a screenshot, though.

The most important caveat is that you must remember that you are not taking a shot of the screen, you are taking a shot of what the Mac is displaying. So if your display has gone, say, monochrome for some reason, and you take a screenshot, that shot will be in perfect color.

You also can't take a screenshot of a Blu-ray or DVD player because of rights issues. It's the same thing with streaming services such as Netflix — you can take a shot, but it will be blank where the movie was

Other than that, you can take a grab of anything on your Mac's screen and choose between either doing it very quickly or with some customization.

How to take a screenshot on a MacBook pro, the quick way

  • Hold down the Command key
  • Hold down the Shift key
  • Tap the number 3 key

A capture of your entire MacBook Pro screen is briefly displayed at the bottom right of your monitor, and then it is saved to your desktop.

By default, every screenshot will first show up as a thumbnail at bottom right of your screen.
By default, every screenshot will first show up as a thumbnail at bottom right of your screen.

In a giant majority of cases, this is probably all you want. And on the odd occasion that you only wanted to grab a particular portion of the screen, you can open that screenshot in an image editor and delete what you don't need.

That image editor could be your Mac's built-in one, too. When the screenshot is briefly displayed at the bottom right, or at any time when you select it and tap the Spacebar, you can edit the image.

Click on the icon of a marker pen and you get a reasonable set of editing tools that include markup ones and cropping.

How to take a screenshot of part of a MacBook Pro screen

You can, though, decide in advance that you are only going to take a screenshot of, say, one particular window, or one section of your screen.

  • Hold down the Command key
  • Hold down the Shift key
  • Tap the number 4 key

Notice the difference here, you're using the number 4 key. When you do that, the Mac's cursor turns into a crosshair and you can drag over the area you want to grab.

When you let go of the mouse, or the trackpad, the shot is taken.

You can select just one window.
You can select just one window.

How to take a screenshot of a single window on a MacBook Pro screen

  • Hold down the Command key
  • Hold down the Shift key
  • Tap the number 4 key
  • Move the cursor over a window
  • Tap the spacebar
  • Click when you're ready

How to take a screenshot of a single window on a MacBook Pro screen on a timer

In that example, the shot only takes place when you click, and in all the others, it happens immediately. To give yourself a few seconds to, say, arrange a window or select a menu, you can use a timer.

Having seen the use of the number 3 and 4 keys, you may not be surprised to know that this one involves 5.

  • Hold down the Command key
  • Hold down the Shift key
  • Tap the number 5 key

This time, all that happens is that you get a control strip on screen. It actually contains buttons to start off everything you've done so far with keystrokes, such as grabbing the whole screen or a portion.

However, it also has an Options control.

You can set a time delay on when screenshots will be taken.
You can set a time delay on when screenshots will be taken.

Click on that and you get the choice of taking a shot immediately, in 5 seconds or in 10 seconds.

There are also options for where you save the screenshot, whether it gets displayed on screen, and so on. The same control strip even includes options to take video of the screen instead of a still image.

However, for speed and convenience, the keystrokes of Command, Shift and the number 3, 4 or 5, can't be beaten.

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