How to change OS X screen capture settings

Ever wish OS X’s screenshots ended up somewhere other than your desktop? Or you would prefer them to be jpg’s instead of png files? No shadow on the captured image? A little terminal trickery can change all that. Read on to find out how.

Note – updated 2021: This post has been updated for later versions of OS X.

How to change where screenshots are saved in macOS Mojave (version 10.14) and later

  • Open the Screenshot app which can be found under Applications > Utilities > Screenshot or you could quickly find it through Spotlight.
  • Click on Options
  • Under the ‘Save to’ section, select where you would like your screenshots to be saved.
  • Setting the save location for screenshots in later versions of OS X.

    Setting the save location for screenshots in later versions of OS X.

Older versions of OS X

For older versions of OS X, you will have to use the Terminal application to make these changes. The Terminal application can be found under Applications -> Utilities -> Terminal.

Change the screenshot image type

By default, OS X saves screenshots in the .png format (Portable Network Graphics). However, you can make OS X save your screenshots in many different file types including: .bmp, .jpg, .pdf, .tiff etc…

To make this change, firstly open up Terminal which can be found under Applications -> Utilities -> Terminal or you could quickly find it through Spotlight.

Once you have a terminal window open, enter the following 2 commands.

defaults write com.apple.screencapture type jpg
killall SystemUIServer

So in this example, the first command will change the file type of the saved image to a .jpg file. You could replace ‘jpg’ with the other options such as bmp, pdf etc… as mentioned previously.

The second command will force the system user interface to reload so that your new screenshot settings will take effect. Don’t panic if you see your screen go a little crazy for a second or 2 as it reloads.

Change the screenshot default saved location

This example will save your screenshots to a folder in your home directory called “Screenshots”.

defaults write com.apple.screencapture location ~/Screenshots
killall SystemUIServer

You can specify any folder location that you wish. A handy shortcut is to press the spacebar once to create a single space after the word “location” and then drag and drop the folder where you want to save screenshots onto the Terminal window. This will enter the exact path to that folder.

Disable window drop shadow

By default, OS X will add a drop shadow when taking a screenshot of an individual window with the Command-Shift–4-Space command. This can look nice if you’re adding the image to a presentation or document, but can be a pain if you’re wanting to add the image to a website for example.

To turn off the automatic creation of drop shadow, enter the following commands:

defaults write com.apple.screencapture disable-shadow -bool true
killall SystemUIServer

If you wish to turn the automatic creation of drop shadow back on, just enter the following commands:

defaults write com.apple.screencapture disable-shadow -bool false
killall SystemUIServer

1 comment

  1. Kelsu says:

    This is not working with El Capitan. I see quite a few bloggers have posted this solution, but no results. Do you have another procedure?

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