Submit Hint Search The Forums LinksStatsPollsHeadlinesRSS
14,000 hints and counting!

10.4: Change the default screenshot format Apps
Tiger only hintThis TidBITS article explains how to change the default screenshot format in Tiger.

[robg adds: Since this is just a Terminal command, I'm going to go ahead and show it here, too. Just open a Terminal and type:
defaults write com.apple.screencapture type image_format
Replace image_format with your preferred image format. I imagine that anything supported by QuickTime should work. I tested tiff and jpg; pdf works, too, and png is the default. You'll then have to logout/login to make the change take effect. Five bonus points and the yellow jersey to whomever figures out which process to restart to skip the logout step, if possible!

Update: Thanks to EelBait for the comment below -- he gets the yellow jersey and the five points! Just killall SystemUIServer to implement the new screenshot format.

This feature is nice to see back (even though I use SnapzPro for 99% of my screenshots); it's been missing since the days of 10.1. I tested this on 10.3, too, just in case it had been overlooked there, but no such luck.]
    •    
  • Currently 3.78 / 5
  You rated: 5 / 5 (9 votes cast)
 
[132,060 views]  

10.4: Change the default screenshot format | 31 comments | Create New Account
Click here to return to the '10.4: Change the default screenshot format' hint
The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
10.4: Change the default screenshot format
Authored by: jasenko on Jul 08, '05 11:07:22AM

Maybe I'm imagining things, but since I played with this a while ago, something incredible has happened.
I was changing formats as the hint above suggests, and because I didn't like the quality:size ratio I reverted to PNG. After I did that, all PNG files are optimised and much smaller then before.
For example, normal screenshot was around and above 1MB in size, now, the most I get is around 500KB, most of the time in the range of 250-300KB, much smaller than JPG, but in full quality now.
Can anyone who didn't play with this, check the size now, and after they played with few different formats.



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.4: Change the default screenshot format
Authored by: elmimmo on Jul 08, '05 01:46:19PM

To me it just came around the same size, taking into account that while both captures where not pixel per pixel equal (the dock changed), they were pretty much the same.

Take into account that png's compression efficiency varies depending on how the image is, so you might be getting screenshots weighting very different sizes every time you change your screen layout.



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.4: Change the default screenshot format
Authored by: eddy_k on Jul 11, '05 03:55:50AM

For me sizes of png files were the same before and after changing the file format to pdf.
BTW pdf screenshots scale much more nicely (zooming in or out) than does a png file



[ Reply to This | # ]
What about screenshots to the clipboard?
Authored by: peterpayne on May 06, '08 07:01:19AM

I find one of the biggest improvements you can do to a Mac is to set command shift 3 to "take screenshot of selected area to clipboard" and command shift 4 to "save screenshot of selected area to desktop" in the custom keyboard shortcuts. I find however that taking screenshots to the clipboard and pasting them into emails *always* results in TIFF images being sent, regardless of this setting. Any change of some help setting that file format?



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.4: Change the default screenshot format
Authored by: ynolo on Jul 08, '05 11:12:53AM

the process that you need to kill from the cml, is /System/Library/CoreServices/loginwindow.app/Contents/MacOS/loginwindow console

It will be listed as such:

532 loginwindo 0.0% 0:00.55 3 117 126 1.13M 5.61M 4.39M 133M

You have to be root to kill this process and it will not affect other users that are logged in via the GUI.

Cheers!



---
i don\'t have one



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.4: Change the default screenshot format
Authored by: David on Jul 08, '05 12:40:46PM

But it is also the reason you have to log out. Because if you kill that process you get logged out. :-)



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.4: Change the default screenshot format
Authored by: robg on Jul 08, '05 12:46:36PM

Well, yea, I know you can kill the loginwindow to force an immediate logout, but that's not really what I was asking :).

I was curious if there's a non-destructive process that could be restarted without requiring the logout step. Since this used to work instantly in 10.1, I was hoping there'd be a somewhat easy way to do the same in 10.4...

-rob.



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.4: Change the default screenshot format
Authored by: subatomicsatan on Jul 08, '05 12:00:27PM

[code]rehash[/code]



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.4: Change the default screenshot format
Authored by: EelBait on Jul 08, '05 12:53:33PM

Just kill the SystemUIServer. It will restart and the new settings will take effect. You'll see the menubar objects go away briefly.



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.4: Change the default screenshot format
Authored by: robg on Jul 08, '05 01:01:50PM

Hooray! Thanks for that!

-rob.



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.4: Change the default screenshot format
Authored by: jhogeterp on Jul 08, '05 01:58:46PM

I was wondering if there is a way to change the resolution of a screenshot? I do the brunt of my work in frieworks in documents that have a dpi of 72. The default png screenshot is just a smidgen lower than 72 (and I believe it is in cm instead of inches). A lot of times I will take a screen shot straight to the clipboard (shift+control+command+4) and past it into fireworks. each time I do this fireworks asks me if I want to resize the image. It just gets quite annoying. Thanks



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.4: Change the default screenshot format
Authored by: tokenfirstyear on Jul 08, '05 07:26:27PM
it's weird, i typed in
defaults write com.apple.screencapture type jpg
and it worked right away without killing any processes or logging out... 10.4.1... any ideas?

[ Reply to This | # ]
10.4: Change the default screenshot format
Authored by: enigmamf on Jul 09, '05 03:13:07AM

Funny, I was just thinking, "oh that'll be cool, I can set it to use PNG." Shows you how long it's been since I've taken a screenshot :)



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.4: Change the default screenshot format
Authored by: alfrank on Jul 09, '05 04:44:18AM

After a quick Test of JPG I reverted back to PNG because text and plain colors (as in screenshots of Finder windows or web pages) are handled much better by PNG. With JPEG the colors are often not correct and text is blurry !



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.4: Change the default screenshot format
Authored by: bostmass on Jul 10, '05 08:07:18PM

Unfortunately, the quality setting for jpegs (if you choose that format) is 60%. That would give you artifacts and poorly rasterized text. Photoshop and Imageready are good at overcoming this, but I don't think the built-in screen capture uses the same algorithms. Does anyone know how to add a plist entry to change that setting to something higher? Image Events allows this, so I'm sure there has got to be a way.



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.4: Change the default screenshot format
Authored by: david-bo on Jul 09, '05 05:59:22AM

I am still waiting for vectorized screen shots.

---
http://www.google.com/search?as_q=%22Authored+by%3A+david-bo%22&num=10&hl=en&ie=ISO-8859-1&btnG=



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.4: Change the default screenshot format
Authored by: rhowell on Jul 09, '05 01:52:01PM

I thought for sure that this would be introduced in Tiger. Panther's use of PDF as the screenshot format hinted at this. They just needed to stop grabbing the desktop layer and grab the quartz layer instead (much of which is vectorized). Oh well, now we're using PNG and who knows what to think...



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.4: Change the default screenshot format
Authored by: BradMacPro on Jul 11, '05 10:17:19AM

For those allergic to terminal, there is a new and free GUI application, "savescreenie" for multiple choice selections. see http://www.imovieplugins.com/other%20products/savescreenie.html

disclaimer- I'm not the author.



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.4: Change the default screenshot format
Authored by: BradMacPro on Jul 11, '05 10:22:17AM

For that matter, TinkerTool 3.5 also will change the format and has options for this and many many other controls for this and that. see http://www.bresink.de/osx/TinkerTool.html Also Freeware



[ Reply to This | # ]
JPEG and JPG produce a slight difference
Authored by: elmimmo on Jul 20, '05 04:40:46AM

Note that the difference between types jpg and jpeg will be the file extension of created files. If you are paranoid about compatibility set it to jpg, although pretty much any application on any OS that supports extensions >3char should be able to deal with .jpeg files.



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.4: Multi-page PDF
Authored by: PeteVerdon on Aug 12, '05 06:47:32AM

I have two monitors, and one of the reasons I liked using PDF for screenshots is that it saved them as two-page PDFs. Using PNG in Tiger, I get instead Picture 1 and Picture 1(2). Unfortunately, changing the format back to PDF using this hint doesn't change that - I now get two individual PDF files instead of the single one I used to.



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.4: Change the default screenshot format
Authored by: scriptfactors on Aug 23, '05 10:56:09AM

thanks for the great hint!

here is a small AppleScript for the ScriptMenu to switch whenever desired-

property defaultFileFormat : "jpg"

set defaultFileFormat to item 1 of (choose from list {"jpg", "tiff", "png", "pdf"} with title "" with prompt "Select Fileformat for Screencaptures:" default items {defaultFileFormat} without multiple selections allowed and empty selection allowed)
do shell script "defaults write com.apple.screencapture type " & defaultFileFormat
do shell script "killall SystemUIServer"
display dialog "Fileformat for Screencaptures is set to " & defaultFileFormat & "." buttons {"OK"} default button 1


(hope lines do not break...)

cheers,

as



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.4: Change the default screenshot format
Authored by: bgalura on Apr 03, '07 02:04:16AM

I removed the Property line (first line) and added the following:

set defaultFileFormat to do shell script "defaults read com.apple.screencapture type"

so that the current type is highlighted in the list. If you have set it to something that is not in the list (using the command line) nothing will be highlighted. Useful to me so I can easily see what file type I currently have set.

Wraped it all in a "Try" statement as well to avoid getting an error when you click "Cancel"



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.4: Change the default screenshot format (& LOCATION)
Authored by: Diomedes on Jun 16, '06 11:06:48AM

I just switched to a MacBook Pro, and Snapz is not Intel-ready yet. Is there a way to change WHERE screenshots are stored?



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.4: Change the default screenshot format (& LOCATION)
Authored by: tomem on Nov 21, '07 06:17:27AM

You can capture them into Preview and then save them, but it would be nicer if automated.

Seems like I saw a way to change the default name of the files created on the desktop, which might also offer a different default location, but danged if I can find it again.

---
TomEM
Crofton, MD



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.4: Change the default screenshot format (& LOCATION)
Authored by: PigDawg on Feb 22, '09 10:39:03AM
Short story is you can do it via the following command. (Be sure to replace <username> with your actual username

defaults write com.apple.screencapture location /Users/<username>/Desktop/screens

In this example screen captures will be saved in a folder named "screens" on your desktop.

I found this info at this page... http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=1396522


[ Reply to This | # ]
10.4: Change the default screenshot format (& LOCATION)
Authored by: osxpounder on May 13, '09 10:01:45AM

Darn. Doesn't work for me. I created a folder for screenshots, wrote out a command that sets location to that folder, based on your example, and... same as before. Screen shots go to Desktop.

Using 10.5.6.

I've used at least 3 screenshot utils on this computer, though, so maybe some setting/change left behind by one of those is interfering.



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.4: Change the default screenshot format (& LOCATION)
Authored by: osxpounder on May 13, '09 10:03:06AM

Oops, never mind. Forgot I had to quit SystemUIServer first. Done that, and now it's working. That's wonderful.



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.4: Change the default screenshot format
Authored by: tomem on Nov 21, '07 05:55:58AM

This doesn't change the format of the version copied to the clipboard when <ctrl> is pushed to copy and paste. You still get a .tiff. Anyone know how to change that so you get a specified other format?

Preview can manage this but it gets the copy/paste version in .tiff as well when it is used. One can then change it, but why not set it up as you want it? I'm using this to email screen shots frequently and many folks email programs do not handle tiffs well.

Thanks for any help on this...

---
TomEM
Crofton, MD



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.4: Change the default screenshot format
Authored by: hoc.uspoc.us on Dec 07, '07 01:00:01PM

Very good news about this hint in Leopard (10.5): It appears you no longer have to log out/in after setting this preference, it just works immediately.



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.4: Change the default screenshot format
Authored by: robogobo on Dec 07, '07 04:12:15PM

wow, talk about a bump.



[ Reply to This | # ]