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Mac n00b / Switcher Tip: Print Screen


The other day, one of my coworkers called me up with this question, so I thought I would share it here. She wanted to know if there was a Mac function similar to the Print Screen button on Windoze.  In PeeCee land, for those of you who don’t know, the Print Screen button on the keyboard copies the content of the current screen, so that it can be pasted into a document or program for editing, printing, etc.  In Mac, there is an easy key combination to achieve the same effects and more.  Simply hit the Command key (the Apple key next to the space bar), the Shift key, and the number 3 key simultaneously.  This takes a screen shot of the current screen and saves it to the Desktop as a pdf file.

Now, if you only want to copy a segment of the screen, hit Command + Shift + 4, and the mouse cursor will change from an arrow into cross hairs.  Simply click and drag the cross hairs over the area of the screen of which you want to take a picture.  When you release the mouse button, you will hear a clicking sound reminiscent of a camera shutter and a new file will appear on your desktop in pdf format.  Most Macs these days come with a free copy of GraphicConverter, which you can use to convert the resulting pdf file into JPEG, GIF, PNG, or whatever image format you like the best.  Have fun!

UPDATE: Dave notes in the comments: “For even MORE fun, once you use cmd + shift + 4, press the space bar and the cursor turns into a camera. Move over any window and you can take a snapshot of JUST that window. :)” Thanks, Dave!

’NOTHER UPDATE: DF adds, “If you add the control key to any of the OS X screenshot keyboard shortcuts, the screenshot is copied to the clipboard instead of being saved to a file; you can then paste it into any graphics application — such as OS X’s Preview — and save it in any format you prefer.” Thanks, DF!

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