Mac OS X includes some very useful and powerful screenshot capabilities. By default, using the Mac screenshot tools places the captured image on your desktop or in another user-defined directory. Sometimes, however, you want to immediately use that screenshot in another application, such as editing it in Photoshop or sharing it via Mail. In these cases, the creation of the screenshot file is simply an unnecessary step in the process of getting the screenshot to its ultimate destination.
A solution to this middleman file is the Mac’s ability to save a captured screenshot to your clipboard, where it can be directly pasted into the desired application without needing to create and place the file on your desktop. The good news is that this extra functionality is also built right into the Mac OS and uses a simple modification of the already familiar Mac screenshot shortcuts. Here’s how it works.
Copying a Mac Screenshot to the Clipboard
To save your Mac screenshot to the clipboard instead of to a file on your desktop, the magic key is Control (displayed on some older Mac keyboards as ⌃). You simply take an existing screenshot keyboard shortcut and add Control to the mix.
For example, the keyboard shortcut to capture then entire screen is Shift (⇧) + Command (⌘) + 3. Pressing that key combination will capture your entire screen and place the image as a new PNG file on your desktop. However, if you use Control (⌃) + Shift (⇧) + Command (⌘) + 3, nothing will appear on your desktop and, well, nothing will seem to happen at all. But if you open an app which can accept a pasted image, such as Pages, and try to paste the contents of your clipboard (Command + V), you’ll see your screenshot appear.
This clipboard trick also works with other screenshot types, including Selection (Control (⌃) + Shift (⇧) + Command (⌘) + 4) and Window (Control (⌃) + Shift (⇧) + Command (⌘) + 4 + Spacebar). While adjusting to this new shortcut, just remember to add the Control key to the mix.
Pressing the Control key along with the other common shortcut keys is admittedly a bit awkward from a finger positioning standpoint, but we’ve found that it’s easy to adjust with a little bit of practice. The benefit of learning this approach is that you can more quickly take your screenshot into the correct application, saving you time, especially if you take lots of screenshots throughout the day. As a bonus, this method also keeps your desktop clutter-free! If you need to save your Mac screenshot to a file, of course, you can always forgo the Control key as necessary.
Customize Your Mac Screenshot Shortcuts
If you love the idea of saving a screenshot directly to the clipboard, but hate having to contort your fingers to reach the necessary keys, you can take advantage of the Mac’s excellent keyboard mapping function to create your own screenshot shortcuts.
Just head to System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts. Select Screen Shots from the list on the left side of the window and you’ll see the Mac’s screenshot options and their default keyboard shortcut combinations on the right side.
Find the screenshot command shortcut you’d like to modify and double-click the shortcut listed to the right. Now, press the new key combination you’d like to associate with the command. For example, you could leave the normal shortcuts alone, but change the “save to clipboard” ones to Control + Shift + 3/4. Alternatively, if you think you’ll use the clipboard method more often than the file method, you can switch the combinations, making the Control modifier applicable to the file method only. Just be sure to verify that your desired shortcut combination isn’t used by another application. OS X will warn you with a yellow alert triangle if the shortcut you enter is already in use, but the operating system can’t account for all third party applications.
Once you’ve made your changes, just close the System Preferences window and carry on with your screenshots! If you’d like to know more about taking Mac screenshots, check out our full guide for tips on how to change the file format, naming, and more.
Want news and tips from TekRevue delivered directly to your inbox? Sign up for the TekRevue Weekly Digest using the box below. Get tips, reviews, news, and giveaways reserved exclusively for subscribers.
1. Apowersoft Mac Screenshot
This is a light-weight screen capture tool especially designed for Mac users. It allows you to capture any region on the screen like Snipping Tool on Windows. When you’ve taken a screenshot with this tool, an image editor will pop up. Then you can annotate the image with lines, arrows, texts, circles, etc. After that, you can save the screenshot to your local disk or just upload it directly to the free cloud space. Every image uploaded in this way will be hosted on an individual page with the links readily to share. It is indeed a pretty handy tool for taking screenshot in Apple computers. Here are the steps for you to create a screenshot on Mac with this tool.
- Download and install this program on your Mac.
- Launch the application. You can do some settings before capturing screen. You can set hotkeys (“Command + R” by default) for taking screenshot, preset the directory (desktop by default) for saving the screenshot.
- Hit this tool’s icon in the notification area and choose “Regional screenshot”. Or, you can also press the hotkeys you’ve set. After that, your mouse cursor will turn into a crosshair.
- Click, hold and drag your mouse to select the area you want to capture. Release you mouse to confirm it. You can then annotate it as you like with the drawing tools on the horizontal toolbar.
- Hit the disk-like icon to save the screenshot. You can then find the screenshot in the directory you’ve preset.
Tips: Alternatively, instead of saving it on your local disk, you can also upload it to the free cloud space provided by the developer. Once, it’s uploaded, you will get links to the screenshot, which are useful for embedding the image in forums and blogs.
It can be said that Grab is a built-in free Snipping tool for Mac designed by Apple Inc. It has four screenshot modes for you to choose: Selection, Window, Screen and Timed Screen. After taking screenshot, it also provides an image editor for you to crop and annotate the image. When you are done, you can save the screenshot to a folder on your Mac in TIFF, PNG or PDF formats.
Skitch is a well-known screen capture program created by Evernote. It is capable of taking multiple screenshots easily without any hassles on Mac OS X. It also has functions of editing and sharing. This program can be a good Snipping Tool alternative for Mac due to the fact that it can not only capture screenshots, but also provides more functions than the Windows Snipping Tool does, such as various image annotation and sharing options.
Jing is another effective screenshot tool on Mac that makes sharing screenshots, animations and small video recordings of your screen a piece of cake. With Jing, you can capture any part of your screen, including application windows, whole screen and selected areas. Once a screenshot is captured, you can edit it with some basic elements like lines, arrows and texts. Aside from that, it also allows you to upload the screenshot to you account on Screencast.com. However, the annotation options are simple and the recording function is limited to 5 minutes.
Monosnap is still another free Snipping Tool for Mac that allows for quick and easy image and video captures of your screen. Like Snipping Tool, it allows you to capture (as well as timed capture) the entire screen, a selected window, or any desired portion of the screen. Featuring an 8x magnifier, it allows for precise cropping and also has customization ability with its screenshot hotkeys. You can annotate your captures using basic tools and even cover private information using the software’s blur tool. It also provides free cloud storage for its registered users.
TinyGrab is a simple yet highly effective Snipping Tool on Mac that takes advantage of the platform’s inherent screenshot functionalities to capture screen images. After that, screenshots are quickly uploaded to a web server which enables you to share your captured screen with a small and convenient URL. TinyGrab is famous for its lightweight, unobtrusive and fast response service that can be free or premium (costing 10 pounds).
As you can see, there is a number of excellent candidates for the best Snipping tool alternatives on Mac. You can download any of the tools mentioned above. But it is highly recommended that you use Apowersoft Mac Screenshot because of the powerful functions and free cloud space it provides.