06 October 2009

Change your screen capture save location - Mac OS X

I use the mac os x screen capture tool a bunch—sometimes when building web pages or when I see amusing content on the web, like an Evony ad. If you don’t know what screen capture is, cmd+shift+4 will trigger it and then just click and drag a box to take a screen shot. Additionally, hitting spacebar will let you capture entire windows and holding down ctrl (when you release your mouse click) will save your image to the clipboard instead of the file system.

By default all screen captures get saved to your desktop. Unless you’re really tidy, this gets messy fast, so do the following:

  1. Open up the terminal (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, search for it using spotlight cmd+space)
  2. Enter this code, the first line makes sure the path exists and the second line sets it as the new screen capture location:
mkdir -p ~/Pictures/Captures
defaults write com.apple.screencapture location ~/Pictures/Captures
  1. Log out and in again (or just restart)

That’s it, enjoy!

By the way, some people may claim that you need to use an absolute path when writing to defaults, however this worked fine for me with the relative path. It seemed to just get stored as an absolute path after I looked at: defaults write com.apple.screencapture location I’m not sure though, what would happen with two accounts running on a mac, maybe the user who didn’t set the location will still get captures sent to the desktop?

Comments (4)

1. Kelly Ford wrote:

Good tip, Peter. I also came across a really handy little Firefox plug-in from http://www.iimmgg.com/ which facilitates screen grabs which exceed the constraints of the visible screen. It's small, easy to use, and has some nice options.

Posted on 9 October 2009 at 9:10 AM  |  permalink

2. peter wrote:

That’s definitely a convenient feature for web page screen captures. Their home page looks pretty spammy, but they are in the firefox addons here: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/8290

Posted on 12 October 2009 at 12:10 PM  |  permalink

3. Karl wrote:

Worked for me! Thanks!

Posted on 19 January 2011 at 4:01 PM  |  permalink

4. Andre Mello wrote:

Thanks for the tip. Worked fine!

Posted on 15 March 2012 at 8:03 AM  |  permalink

Peter Coles

Peter Coles

is a software engineer who lives in NYC, works at Ringly, and blogs here.
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