MacMost Now 163: How to Take a Screen Shot

Learn how to capture the entire screen or only a portion, then compress it to send it in an email. This is handy for sending bug reports or pointing out problems.

Video Transcript
Hi this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today's episode let's take a look at how to take a screen shot so you can show somebody else what your seeing on Your Mac. So here's that something happens pretty often, you are looking at a website or a program and something doesn't look quite right. So you go ahead and contact the support for that website or application and they say, 'can you send me a screen shot of what you are seeing'? So let's take a look at how to create a screen shot, and also the proper way to send it VIA email.
The first thing you want to do is familiarize yourself with the keyboard shortcuts you are going to need. Now these can be customized so it's important to check in your system preferences under keyboard and mouse. Hit the keyboard shortcuts tab and you will be able to see a list of short cuts.
One of the topics is screen shots, and you will look and you will see several different one's there. Save picture of the entire screen as a file, the default is Shift Command 3. Also copy picture of the screen to the clipboard is Control Shift Command 3. Save picture of a selected area is Shift Command 4. Copy picture of selected area to the clipboard is Control Shift Command 4.
So your familiarize yourself with those, the ones we are going to use right now Shift Command 3 and Shift Command 4. So say you are at the MacMost website and you want to send a screen shot of what you see to me. One way to do it would be to hit Shift Command and 3, you will hear a snapshot sound. Then if you look at the desktop of your computer, I am going to look at in a folder here, you will see a file it's going to called picture space 1 and if you have extensions turned on so you can view them .png. It's going to be saved as a .png file. It will be fairly large, in this case with an IMac screen it's going to be about 700K. So you can send this as an attachment in an email and you will be sending a pretty large 700K image of your entire screen. let's look at a better way. so a better way would be to go ahead and select exactly what you want to show. So say you want to highlight something about the top news story, so you hit Shift Command and 4. You are going to get this cursor here, looks like a little target cursor. You can go ahead and click and drag and select an area. Now if you look at the desktop you get another picture, this case picture space 2.png. This one however is going to be much smaller, it's only going to be 24K because it's only a picture of a very small area. So it's a lot easier to this send VIA email.
Now if you do want to send a complete screen shot but you don't want to send a huge file. One of the things you may want to do is go ahead and double click on the file and you'll open it up in preview. Now once in a preview you will see here is a screen shot of the entire screen. You can go ahead and save as, so do file save as and you will be able to select a format. You can go and select say .jpg as the format. Bring the quality all the way down to the least. This is because this is a basic screen shot, the person on the other end really just wants to see what you are seeing what menu you are at, what button you are pressing. Something basic like that and even at the least quality you can make out all that stuff fairly easily. You can see a file size indicator here at the bottom, so at the best quality its 1.2 megs. Remember, the original was about 700K. All the way down at the least quality is 141K which is a much better file size for an entire screen shot. You just save that new file out, and attach that one in an email.
So you want to compress the image or use a smaller screen area for a number of reasons. First of all, ti's easier to send a small file and to receive it, and it won't fill up an email box. Also, it's easier to archive. If you are keeping all of the email you send it, you are going to be keeping that 700K Attachment. Same thing for the person getting it, its easier for them to store that, and to view it and go ahead and see the problem and correct it. So knowing how to take a screen shot and send it VIA email is a great skill to have. Not only will it allow to give you an accurate report to the developer of an application or a website, and they'll appreciate that. But it will allow you to get your point across easier so maybe there can be a fix quicker. Until next time this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now.

Comments: 9 Responses to “MacMost Now 163: How to Take a Screen Shot”

    Ted Wilson
    2/25/09 @ 3:32 pm

    I use the shift command-4 for snapshots but my windows using OS9 classic will be opaque white. If I use the command in a document that needs OS9 classic running I get an opaque white window while dragging over document instead of a transparent one and any image that needs to redisplay because of this will not show in the snapshot. This is on a Powermac G4 running OS 10.2.8 and is my work computer. My home G4 computer uses the next up operating system and I get a transparent window instead of an opaque one and the snapshots are fine. This opaque window seems to be something new on my work MAC so I would like to know if there is some setting that needs to be changed somewhere?

    2/28/09 @ 9:41 am

    Ted: Not sure what the problem could be. Sounds like some bug that was squashed long ago — might be time to update that old G4 system if this is something you really need.

    5/13/10 @ 7:29 pm

    Gary, how can you scroll and take a screenshot at the same time? For example, I want to take a screenshot of this entire page from top to bottom and not just the top half. Thanks

      5/14/10 @ 6:20 am

      You can really take a screen shot of a long window because isn’t all on the screen. There are some pieces of software that I’ve seen that can do it, but it would depend on the application.
      If it is a document or browser window, why not print the document to a PDF instead? See episode 181:

    5/14/10 @ 7:41 am

    Why I didn’t think of that? Thank you!

    Elle Tran
    2/16/11 @ 2:25 pm

    Hi Gary,
    I don’t know how it happened but now when I take a screenshot, the image is way smaller than it used to be (it used to be real screen size). What can I do to bring it back to it’s original setting? Many thanks for your help!

      2/16/11 @ 2:46 pm

      Are you sure you are viewing it full size? What are you using to view it?

    Elle Tran
    2/16/11 @ 3:30 pm

    I usually take the picture then I glide it to my new email page…I always worked that way and the size was the actual size of the picture I took but now, I can hardly read it!! Please help me!!! Thnx

      2/16/11 @ 3:32 pm

      I’ll bet the picture is fine. It is just shrinking it visually so you can see it in the limited space. Try taking the picture, then opening it up in Preview. Make sure you zoom to 100%. If it is fine, then the picture is fine.

Comments Closed.