I’m Chanpory, and this is my site on how to live and work better as a designer.

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For as long as I can remember, I have been in love with Command+Shift+3, the Macintosh keyboard shortcut for capturing a screen to a file. While this love is enduring, I must admit some dalliances with Command+Shift+4 (capture selected area of a screen to a file) and Command+Shift then Spacebar (capture a specific window, widget, or desktop icon to file.) In times of need, these screenshot commands brought joy into my life, allowing me to quickly capture design comps and favorite websites to share with colleagues and friends. But all love needs a little extra help now and then, and this help comes in the form of the “Control” button.

Hold Control to copy

Press “Control” along with your screenshot key combinations, and instead of saving it to a file, the screenshot is copied to the clipboard. Here are the key combinations:

  • Command+Shift+3+Control Capture entire screen and copy to clipboard
  • Command+Shift+4+Control Capture a selection of the screen and copy to clipboard
  • Command+Shift+4+Control then Spacbar Capture specific window, widget, or desktop icon and copy to clipboard
Whats the advantage? I often use screenshots temporarily, such as for sampling colors on a website or for sending to someone else. Since I don’t really need to save the screenshot to a file, capturing a screenshot to the clipboard removes the step of having to delete the file later.

More places to paste than you think

Once you’ve copied a screenshot to the clipboard, the obvious place to paste it into is an image-editing program such as Photoshop. But let’s be a little more adventurous.

After some exploration and experimentation, I found a few other places that weren’t so obvious:

  • iChat with pasted screenshotiChat Paste your screenshot into the message window of iChat, and iChat will send it to the buddy you’re talking to. If your buddy’s chat client supports inline images, your screenshot will show up in his chat window. This is great for showing design comps to colleagues for quick feedback.
  • Mail Save time by pasting directly into a new e-mail in Mac OS X’s Mail application.
  • Preview Once you’ve copied a screenshot to the clipboard, open Mac OS X’s Preview Application. Now, go to the “File” in the menubar and choose “New from Clipboard” or press “Command+N.” Voila, your screenshot appears, ready to print!

More screenshot tips

For more screenshot tips including coverage of Mac OS X’s Grab application and third party screenshot utilities, check out the following links:


  • Sean

    gravatarJul 5, 2006
    9:55 am

    Mac OS X hints posted a related tip today. Using Command+Shift+4 then Spacbar, or Command+Shift+4+Control then Spacbar, will allow you to capture a window that is larger than your screens display size.

  • George

    gravatarJul 6, 2006
    9:53 am

    It’s not as built-in as a simple key command, but Paparazzi is a useful little utility for making screengrabs, especially very long pages that you’d otherwise have to grab in pieces and paste back together. And it’s free too.

  • Chanpory

    gravatarJul 6, 2006
    2:52 pm

    Paparazzi is quite nice and has AppleScript support! Looks like the upcoming new version will have Automator support also. Exciting!

  • Anika

    gravatarMay 29, 2009
    4:48 am

    I love te colours and lay out of your blog, i really want to get hold of this theme, what are you using?