MacMost Now 261: The Mac Grab Utility

In addition to screen capture keyboard shortcuts built into Mac OS X, you can also use the Grab utility to capture the screen. This enables you to capture windows and perform timed screen captures as well.

Video Transcript
Hi, this is Gary [xx] "MacMost Now".
On today's episode let's take a look at the screen capture utility that comes with your Mac. It's called Grab.
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Stored keyboard shortcuts built in to Mac OS 10 allow you to capture your entire screen or portion of it and save it to a file or to the clipboard. But, there's also a utility hidden in your Applications Utilities folder called 'Grab' that allows you to do that and a little more. Let's take a look at it.
So, when you run Grab you don't get an interface, but you do get the menu items here.
Under Grab you can choose 'Preferences' and you can set just two different 'Preferences'. One is what type of pointer do you use in place of your cursor. First one is blank, it means don't show any cursor at all. There's the standard cursor and several other ones. You also can choose whether or not to enable sound which is just a little special effects to let you know when you have taken a screen shot.
So, when you actually want to capture something you go to the capture menu here. First choice is selection. Select that...get this little window here that tells you to drag over the portion of the screen you want to capture. Don't worry about this little window here, it won't appear, everything underneath it will. So, I can go ahead and do a selection like that...you will see an outline in red...release...that'll play the sound effects and then you'll get this little document window here that has the image in it that I have captured.
Once I have captured something I can basically go to the the file menu and I could save it. I can also go to the edit menu and copy it. So, I have got two different options there. When I save it it's going to save it as a tiff file...t i f f...which is a file format that won't compress it at all and allow you to basically bring it into any imaging program that you want. Now the other capture options are to capture the window. This is a very useful one and one that doesn't have a duplicate using just the keyboard shortcuts. Click on that...you get this window here. You can go ahead and actually manipulate things in the background. So you can get the window to the state that you wanted and then you click, 'Choose Window' and then click on the window that you want to choose. Now, I get a document that is the exact window that I just went ahead and captured.
So, it's an easy way to capture an exact window without having to outline it perfectly. So, the next option is to capture the entire screen which you can do with the keyboard shortcut as well. The fourth option is really interesting. It's a timed screen capture. It will capture the screen ten seconds after you hit the 'Start Timer' button. So, this is useful if you need to capture something that you can't do at the exact moment that you press the 'Capture' button.
Let me show you. I press start timer here and I go into the finder. Now, the edit menu has these options. But, if I hold down the option key it says 'Deselect All' instead of 'Select All' and I want to capture that and it will do it now as I wait for the ten seconds...I hear the sound effect and now my screen capture here you can see in this document window I can scroll up and has the 'Deselect All' there in the screen capture. I wouldn't be able to do that without the timed screen capture.
So thats a quick look at Grab, a utility that you can find very useful and certainly can take the place of many pieces of shareware out there if your needs for screen capture are very basic. Now, rumors are pretty strong that in Snow Leopard we are actually going to get the ability to capture video from our screen. So, do an active screen capture and using Quick time X, the next version of the Quick time player. We'll see when Snow Leopard's released in September.
Till next time this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now.