How to Save Mac Screenshots as JPG, GIF, PDF, and Other Formats


When you press Cmd + Shift + 3 Where 4 to take a screenshot on Mac, it saves the file in PNG format. However, if you want, you can change this so that Mac screenshots are automatically saved in other formats like JPG, GIF, TIFF, HEIC or even PDF.

So whether you are only allowed to use JPG formats or just prefer to work in PDF, here are two ways to change the default screenshot format on your Mac. We make a permanent change to all screenshots, and work on a screenshot basis.

How to use Terminal to permanently change Mac screenshot format

Using simple terminal commands, you can configure your Mac to save screenshots in the format you want. This rule will apply to all screenshots you take from now on, unless you choose to revert to PNG again.

Here are the steps to change Mac screenshot format using Terminal:

  1. Open Terminal of Application > Utilities or use Spotlight to open it.

  2. Copy and paste one of the following commands into Terminal and press the button Enter key.

  3. To save Mac screenshots in JPG format:

    defaults write type jpg;killall SystemUIServer
  4. To save Mac screenshots in HEIC format:

    defaults write type heic;killall SystemUIServer
  5. To save Mac screenshots as PDF:

    defaults write type PDF;killall SystemUIServer
  6. To save Mac screenshots in GIF format:

    defaults write type gif;killall SystemUIServer
  7. To save Mac screenshots in TIFF format:

    defaults write type tiff;killall SystemUIServer
  8. Or, to return Mac screenshots to PNG format:

    defaults write type png;killall SystemUIServer

Use Terminal on MacBook to change screenshot file format

As you can see, the command is the same for all formats. All you do is replace png with jpg, heic, pdf, gif, Where tiff.

To test it, press Cmd + Shift + 3 to take a screenshot. Then select the saved file and press Cmd + i to display its information. As the Image type, you should see the new format you defined.

How to Use Preview to Save Mac Screenshots in Any Format

If you don’t want to change the format of all Mac screenshots, but don’t want to save a single screenshot in a different format, you can do so on a case-by-case basis using Preview.

This is useful if you don’t always want to have the screenshot in one format. For example, TIFF files are of high quality, but the file size is huge. PDF, on the other hand, is difficult to insert into blog posts or documents. PNG is sharp, but the file size can be large. And sometimes, JPEG or JPG can scramble the text and provide inferior image quality.

So, if a default format is not suitable, you can use these steps to take a Mac screenshot and save it in any format you want. Here’s how.

  1. Open the Overview application of Applications folder or by searching for it with Spotlight.

  2. In the top menu bar, click To file > Take a screenshot So choose From the selection, From the window, Where From the whole screen according to your needs.

    Use the Preview app to take screenshots on MacBook

  3. After using Preview to take the screenshot, Preview opens it automatically. Click on To file > Export.

  4. Click it Format drop-down list and choose one of the formats you want for the screenshot, such as HEIC, Jpeg, JPEG-2000, OpenEXR, PDF, PNG, Where TIFF.

  5. You can also enter any suitable file name and choose a location. Finally, click to safeguard.

    Saving a screenshot on MacBook in JPG and other formats

Once you get the basic idea, you can speed up the process by pressing Cmd + S in the Preview window. Now choose the desired image file format for this screenshot and click to safeguard.

Alternatively, you can click on the close in the upper left corner of the preview window and you will automatically see the option to save the screenshot in the desired format.

Convert Mac Screenshots to Other Formats Later

Now you know how to take all your Mac screenshots in a non-PNG format. You also learned how to save screenshots in the format you want on a case-by-case basis. With this, it should give you the option to use screenshots for different jobs and projects.

Still, suppose you change your mind after taking a screenshot in a particular format. In this case, you can easily convert the images to other formats on your Mac instead of resuming the screenshot.

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