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How to Make Screenshots From Your Mac

March 17, 2009

in Macintosh

by David Strom

This tip is the Mac companion to an earlier Tiplet article that talks about making screenshots on a Windows PC. The tool for the Mac is called Grab and is part of the Mac OS Utilities. If you go into your Applications/Utilities folder, you will find it there. It is simple and quick and produces high-quality images that you can paste into your documents, post to your blog, or incorporate into your presentations.

There are four different kinds of screen shots that you can create:

1. Selection, where you mark the boundaries of the screen that you want to copy and just that portion of your screen is photographed,

2. Window, where you select all the contents of one entire window that is showing on your screen,

3. Your entire desktop screen, or

4. A timed photograph of your entire desktop that shows you a countdown and will give you 10 seconds to arrange the windows the way you like them.

Most of the time I use the selection option just because I am fussy about what gets copied and I want to mark it precisely. The Window option is useful if you are trying to grab an overly long Web page and want it in one place. The Timed option is nice if you have to capture a pull-down dialog box or menu for example.

Once you make your selection, you see the resulting image in a new window on your desktop. If you are happy with the result, you save the file to your desktop or some other place that you can easily find it, and you are done.

Grab’s one limitation is that it saves only TIFF images. If you want to convert an image, you can use the Preview application that comes with the OS (after you open the file in Preview, choose Save As and then pick the format you want to save it as) or an online editing tool such as Picnik, as profiled in an early Tiplet article about free or cheap alternatives to Photoshop.

David Strom is an expert on Internet and networking technologies who was the former editor-in-chief at Network Computing, Tom’s, and He currently writes regularly for PC World, Baseline Magazine, and the New York Times and is also a professional speaker, podcaster and blogs at and


Janet 04.16.09 at 7:55 am

Can you tell me if it’s possible to record a phone call on a Mac. I know it can be done on a PC but I have an older Mac (10.3.9). Look forward to your reply.

Leo 04.17.09 at 6:55 pm

Are you using Skype ? If you are there is a great application named “Call Recorder” by Ecamm Network at

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