Sometimes it's useful to capture an image or some text on your computer screen. But what if it's something that's not downloadable or copyable?

In that case, you'll want to take a screenshot of either all or part of your screen. Taking a screenshot is like taking a photograph of something on your screen. It preserves whatever you're looking at exactly and sends it to your downloads so you can access it whenever you like.

In this tutorial, we'll see how you can take a screenshot on your Mac with just a few keystrokes.

How to Take a Screenshot on a Mac – Part of the Screen

The easiest way to take a screenshot, in my opinion, is to use a simple keyboard shortcut: Command+Shift+4. The shortcut gives you the option to select a portion of the screen or to screenshot the whole screen.

If you just want to capture a part of your screen (that you choose), simply follow the instructions below (Steps 1-4). If you want to capture the whole screen, you'll find instructions to do that afterwards.

Step 1: Press Command + Shift + 4

If you just press Command + Shift + 4, your cursor will turn into a little crosshair-looking icon.

Note that you want to hold down each key until you're done keying in the shortcut, so press and hold the command key (and keep holding it down), then press the Shift key (while holding the command key, and keep holding the shift key as well), and then press the 4 key (while holding those other keys). Then you can release all three keys.

Press Command+Shift+4, click where you want the screenshot to start, and hold down your click (don't release it)

Step 2: Click and drag the cursor

To take the screenshot, simply click in the spot where you want your screenshot to start (don't release the click) and drag the cursor to where you want the screenshot to finish.

Drag over and down (while still holding the click press) until you cover all the area you want captured

Step 3: Release your cursor click

When you've got all the area covered that you want to capture, release your click press and you'll hear a little capture sound (if your sound is on). A minified form of the image will appear in the bottom right corner of your screen, like this:

The screenshot image will go to the bottom right corner of your screen

Step 4: Edit and save your screenshot

You can click on that mini image, and it will be opened in an editor. There you can mark it up, add text and arrows (like I've done above), and send it anywhere on your computer that you like. Just click the icon in the upper right that looks like a pen tip and the editor menu will open:

Click the pen tip icon...
...and the editor menu bar will pop up

Once you've marked up your screenshot to your heart's desire, just save it (Command+s does the trick). Then you'll be able to find it on your desktop, in your "Recents", or in your downloads.

How to Take a Screenshot on a Mac – the Whole Screen

If you want to capture the whole screen, you'll start off the same way – by pressing Command+Shift+4.

Then, instead of dragging the cursor to capture just the part of the screen you want, press the space bar. (You'll do this immediately after keying in the shortcut.) This changes the screen capture field to be the entire screen.

The cursor will turn into a camera icon and your whole screen will be highlighted in a light pinkish-red color. To capture the screenshot, simply click on the camera icon, and voilà - you have a full screen screenshot.

How to Take a Screen Recording on a Mac

What if a still image isn't enough to show what you want to show? What if you want to record yourself demoing a new product or writing instructions to a tutorial?

Mac makes that pretty easy, too. Simply key in Shift+Command+5. You'll see a menu pop up that looks like this:

Screen recording menu, courtesy of Apple Support (fun fact - you can't take a screen shot while you're screen recording!).

Select whether you want to record the whole screen or just part of it (those screen-looking icons on that menu) and then, when you're ready, hit record. If you want sound, just make sure you enable your machine's microphone in the "Options" drop-down menu.

To stop recording, either press the stop button or key in Command+Control+Esc.

And there you have it - now you know how to take screenshots on a Mac with just a couple keystrokes.