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4 ways to grab the screen

Sometimes something is displayed on the screen that you would like to include in another project. For example, an image, window or application that is on screen might be useful in a keynote presentation, or in your online blog or website. How do you grab the graphics and use them elsewhere?

This is actually quite easy and there are four different methods of performing this trick. The first is to hold down the Command key (with the Apple logo on), then hold down the Shift key as well. Now press the 3 key to grab the whole screen. It is saved to the desktop as Picture X.png where X is a number that starts with 1 and is incremented for each screen shot.

You won't always want to grab the whole screen and sometimes you are interested in just a small part of it, such as the contents of a window or even part of a window. For the second method, hold down Command+Shift and press the 4 key. The mouse cursor will change to crosshairs and the exact pixel coordinates are displayed next to it. All you need to do is to click and drag a rectangle around the area of the screen that you want to grab. (Press the Esc key if you change your mind and don't want to take a screen grab.) The selected area of the screen is saved to the desktop as Picture X.png as before.

In the third method you press Ccommand+Shift+4 to get the crosshairs for grabbing a screen. You then press the spacebar and the mouse crosshairs turn into a camera icon. The camera can be used to take a screen shot of objects on the screen. When you click the mouse then whatever object is under the camera is grabbed and saved. For example, if you move the camera over a window and click the mouse then the window, and only the window, is saved as a png file. If the camera is over the desktop then the desktop is saved, if it is over a file or folder then and mage of that is saved. It's really useful when you want to grab a window without the extra clutter that is usually on the screen.

Mac OS X screen grabThe fourth and final method of grabbing the screen uses a utility bundled with OS X. Open the Applications folder, open Utilities and run Grab. This is a screen grabbing utility that has an extra feature that can be useful in certain circumstances.

Click the Capture menu and choose Timed Screen. A dialog appears with Cancel and Start Timer buttons. Click Start Timer and 10 seconds later the screen will be grabbed and saved to the desktop. The time delay gives you the opportunity to do something, like switch to another application, or start some process that you want to grab.

If you want to view your screen shots you just double click them and they will open in Preview. Alternatively, you can Ctrl+click them and select the Quick Look menu option. If the file format of the screen grab isn't the one you want, choosing Save As in Preview will enable you to select a different graphics file format, such as GIF, JPEG and others.

One point to note is that the screen grabbing hotkeys don't work when you are watching a DVD. You'll just see a message telling you that you can't do that. It's obviously designed to avoid any copyright issues with the latest Hollywood movie DVDs. That's a shame because it would be nice to grab a frame and use it as desktop wallpaper.

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