Terminal-icon-Yosemite

Taking a screenshot on a Mac is effortless. Simply hold down Command-Shift-3 to capture the entire screen, or Command-Shift-4 to capture a highlighted area. You can even hold down Command-Shift-4 and then hit the space bar to screenshot a specific window or menu.

The only annoying part is that screenshots are saved to the desktop by default, which creates a cluttered mess if you take a lot of screenshots. The good news is that there is an easy solution for changing the location where screenshots are saved.

Read ahead for step-by-step instructions on how to change the default screenshot location on Mac… 

How to change where screenshots are saved on Mac

Step 1: Search for Terminal in Spotlight Search in the top-right menu bar.

Step 2: Open Terminal and type the following command:

defaults write com.apple.screencapture location ~/Documents/Screenshots

change screenshot to Documents

Step 3: To apply the changes, enter the following command:

killall SystemUIServer

killall

That’s it. If you entered the commands successfully, your screenshots will now save to a Screenshots folder within your Documents. Make sure to actually create the folder before applying the changes through Terminal though.

Note that you can type any directory that you wish to save screenshots to, as it doesn’t have to be ~/Documents/Screenshots if you would prefer something else. For example it could be Documents, or Downloads.

To revert back to saving screenshots to your desktop, you can enter the following command:

defaults write com.apple.screencapture location ~/Desktop

followed by:

killall SystemUIServer

If you have any question about how to change where screenshots are saved on your Mac running macOS, feel free to ask.

  • Arsanny Lintang

    first thing first, how do you take screenshot on a mac?

    • Arsanny Lintang

      nvm.. i didn’t read the first paragraph, silly me.

      • August Ebbesen

        Silly you

      • Peke Went

        Silly.

      • omrishtam

        You.

    • Nikhil D’Souza

      Command+Shift+3 for whole screen and Command+Shift+4 for selection of screen 🙂

      • Barry Becker

        You can also use
        Command+shift+control+3 for full screen to clipboard
        Command+shift+control+4 for selection to clipboard

      • Jose Cazar

        I didn’t know…! It was really helpful! Thanks.

      • That’s the best comment I’ve ever read! Had no idea about that short cut!!!

      • This is the best insight I’ve heard. Who would have known that? Very good Barry! Thank you sir!

      • Thanks a lot for the tip, helped me!

  • Excellent tip, thank you! I now have my screenshots going to ~/Pictures/Screenshots so I don’t have to move them there later.

    • Joe Rossignol

      Nice.

      • Arthur Williams

        Hi Joe
        I used your Terminal tip but have lost the ability to see previews of my photos in DropBox. Is there a way I can reverse the Terminal command you used so I can puy DB back to how it was please.

      • Read the bottom of the article?

  • Kevy Campbell

    Does anyone know of a hack for clash of clans? Or there isn’t one.

    • White Michael Jackson

      hacking is immoral.

    • Sai

      that ruins the game

    • Omsk

      Not possible as its server based

  • Michael Hulet

    To all those who don’t know, the Terminal command to make a Screenshots folder inside of Documents is:

    mkdir ~/Documents/Screenshots

    • Dolly

      thx.. was scratching my head over why the instructions given didn’t work.

      • Riley

        Or, you know, just create a folder like normal.

  • Phernando

    Very usefull… Thanks for the tip!

  • Ashley Bowser

    Also, if you have Dropbox installed, you can have the screenshots go to a folder in your Dropbox. I find this to be a very handy utility.

    • Andrius

      Recommend

    • Jim Moore

      Do you know of a way to save to either a Google Drive or Creative Cloud location… I’m getting “Unexpected Argument” errors when I try anything other than a local drive path. Here is the path of both…

      /Users/Jim/Creative Cloud Files/Screenshots
      /Users/Jim/Google Drive/Team1/transfer/Screenshots

      Going to try the dropbox suggestion as a temporary workaround

      • enno108

        Explanation:
        Terminal will think that Drive is a second argument. If you write ~/Google Drive, the escapes the space character and treats it as a single string.

        This is what you do:
        Create a Screenshot folder on your Google Drive and then type (or copy paste) the following into Terminal:

        defaults write com.apple.screencapture location ~/Google Drive/Screenshots

        Press enter and then type…

        killall SystemUIServer

        …to confirm changes.

      • Fishwalker

        Thanks for this. Been trying all sorts of versions of this code in Terminal from another article (the first that comes up in google when trying to save screenshots to google drive) but screenshots were just defaulting to my desktop, despite me having made them go to dropbox before.
        The command that worked for me was:

        fluttershutter-3:~ fluttershutter$ defaults write com.apple.screencapture location ~/Google Drive/Screenshots

        fluttershutter-3:~ fluttershutter$ killall SystemUIServer

        Obviously with fluttershutter as your account name.

  • Chuck Finley

    “Taking a screenshot on Mac is effortless”

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

    Yeah, holding down four/three keys is so much easier than a Print Screen button.

    Jesus Christ.

    • Christopher

      Effortless and Much Faster, the print screen button? That windows button doesn’t work unless you press fn and its one the other side of the keyboard, WOW, that is SO effortless, plus, you can easily press command shift 3 with one hand, not so with the print screen button.

    • Peke Went

      And… What’s your point? Does this article even make a comparison?

    • sayeh

      at least you don’t have to open a new bmp image to past the print scrn like on window and you don’t have to take the part you want and re copy it to another new bmp image ,,, all you have to do is press cmd +shift+4 and choose the area that you want to capture ,,, wohaaaa you got a png image right in front of you and thats it ,,,,

    • Liana

      Yeah, no. Command + Shift + 4 allows you to take a screenshot of a specific area–much easier and simpler than having to crop a giant screenshot of the entire screen in Paint just to get a small box of text.

    • Gee Nome

      Print screen won’t let you snap a series of images in fast succession (say you’re watching a video). You’d have to pause the video each time, print screen, paste the image into another app, save it, return to the video, play then repeat the process… SO much easier to just hit those 3 keys. Holding cmd-shift does nothing by itself, then all you do is tap ‘3’ so it’s really just as easy as tapping 1 key, but with much more functionality automated.
      Thanks Apple for thinking beyond the square (again)

  • Leslie Villarreal

    I did this as i read it then after i i see you put the “make sure you create a screenshots folder first”… might have been nice to put those steps in order. But my bad for not reading through first ….Anyway I’ve created the screentshots folder under documents. My screenshots are showing under images but not un the screen shots folder. Should i repeat the steps and try again? Thank you.

  • Sarobar Kasaju

    Awesome, thanks for sharing this!!!

  • HarryJohnsonthe3rd

    This is not working. Still going to the desktop
    Why cant apple make it simple and just have a gui to make this type of change.
    Macs drive me nuts but that is what my office has. errrrr

    • Bill Nelson

      Are you sure it’s the Mac that’s driving you nuts, or is that your neutral position?

    • sayeh

      use bootcamp to install windows on mac and thats it

  • Maritza Kreutzer

    awesome

  • LizzBott

    Thank you kind sir!

  • Gayle Stephens

    may i ask, what if spotlight shows no results for Terminal.app?

    • Cat Meister

      You should also be able to find it in launchpad-utilities or in the applications folder. Just dig around.

  • Cat Meister

    Thank you so much.
    For over a year my desktop was completely cluttered with screenshots. I didn’t use any other screen capturing methods since CmdShift3/4 was the fastest.

    Now the screenshots save to a folder on my desktop called “Screenshots”

    • Hey, what did you write in Terminal so that the screenshots would go into a folder on the desktop?
      I tried ~/Desktop/Screenshots and it still ended up on the desktop instead of the folder that I made prior.

      • Cat Meister

        (Did you input the entire thing?)

        defaults write com.apple.screencapture location ~/Desktop/Screenshots

        (Press enter then type)

        killall SystemUIServer

  • Hayden Walsh

    This is awesome, thanks heaps!

  • lizly5

    Thanks! I feel very fancy now.

  • RealUser

    I’m trying to do this with Yosemite 10.10.5.

    In Terminal I typed in this:

    defaults write com.apple.screencapture location /1.5TB HGST/Documents on HDD/Screenshots/ScrnCpt-MAC

    Apparently Doesn’t like the space in the name of the harddrive since it threw back this: “defaults[15858:346819] Unexpected argument HGST/Documents; leaving defaults unchanged.”

    What should I do differently?

  • Valeria Andrade

    what if I want to save them to a tag named screenshots?

  • Valeria Andrade

    How can we put a specific name to a screenshot for faster finding before the screenshot is saved?

  • Cameron Fernandez

    Thank you!

  • Tim

    AWESOME!! thanks! was looking for this for a while.

  • Mitch M

    Thank you!

  • Pensifve

    Thank you!!

  • Dominicus Björkstam

    Hi. Is it possible to save it to the pics app?

  • Ali Albrecht

    amazing! i’ve been looking for a solution to this for months!!

  • Jeff Gibson

    Would it be possible to have the location as an album in photos? What would I enter in order to do that?

  • Braulio

    Does it not work anymore? I’m on Mac OS 10.11.4 and it isn’t working.

  • malhal

    Perfect!

  • theist101

    I did the above and I now have the main bar with apple logo also on the bottom of the screen flashing! How do I fix it?

  • theist101

    My post got deleted. I did the above and its messed up my mac. Ive now got a apple menu bar flashing at the bottom of the screen. How do I fix it?

  • theist101

    seriously, deleted again? I followed the instructions above and it broke my computer, atleast offer some help in fixing it? Menu bar now flashing at the bottom of the page.

  • theist101

    3rd time deleted. The above caused a problem on my computer. I now have a flashing 2nd menu bar.

  • theist101

    what an awful blog / person. ruins your computer and then deletes your posts, shame on you.

  • kimhubbeling

    This is life changing.

  • khalil

    My screen was full of screenshots, I used to store them every month, Thank you very much, it was small tip, but it has very big effect to me.

  • William

    I used this code and it worked fine. Updated to Sierra and it keeps defaulting back to dropbox after I used the the same code. Thoughts?

  • Danielle Erpenbeck

    What about saving screenshots to the photos app?

  • Linda Komogorova

    thanks was rally helpful – otherwise I already got frustrated 🙂

  • Donald Diamond Donavan Jackson

    This was super helpful and easy. Thanks for the tip and great work!!

  • Soobin Chancey Kim

    Can someone please explain to me why do I have to type in kill systemIUserver?

  • Geoff Lee

    Thank you for posting this, however, I have an Issue , I have 2 drives on my Mac Pro , I have a 1 SSD for the operating system and another drive for storage. What would be the command to send the screenshots to the storage drive with the documents folder instead of going to the SSD drive ?

  • Elias Kassaras

    For some reason this only works on one of my laptops. Any ideas?

  • Tomas

    Parfait ! Merci beaucoup 🙂

  • Yibo Wang

    Thanks so much for such a concise and on-point post!!

    Yours,
    -Yibo from http://www.yibowang(dot)com

  • michaelament

    In iOS screen shots go directly to Photos. How do I do that in OS X?

  • Seo Sem

    didn’t work… ?

  • filet0fish

    thank you (in 2017)!!

  • Lorie Balonis Nijjar

    This works great except Nothing I want to save other than a screenshot will save to the desktop. Ideas?

  • Fawcett Proust

    Thank you so much.