A screen capture tip using Grab on the Mac

MacOS provides a few different ways to do screen captures. My personal favorite is Grab, which is found in the Applications/Utilities folder. It lets me capture a selection, a window, or the whole screen without having to remember any magic key combinations. I keep it in the Dock for quick access.

Grab has one deficiency, though. It can save screenshots only as TIFF files. If Apple had to pick just one format, that’s hardly the most useful one. But there’s an easy workaround.

After you’ve got your screen shot, press Command-C or choose “Copy” from the Edit menu. Open the Preview application. Press Command-N or select “New from clipboard” from the File menu. You now have the screenshot in Preview.

In Preview, press Command-S or choose “Save…” from the File menu. You’ll get a dialog to save the file, with a choice of formats: JPEG, JPEG2000, OpenEXR, PDF, PNG, or TIFF. Pick whichever one you like. If you’re going to put the image into a Web page, PNG is usually the best choice. Preview will remember your choice for next time. Then save the file.

If you prefer, you can do the equivalent in Photoshop, Gimp, or any other image-processing application, but Preview has the advantage of launching quickly and keeping the process simple.

That’s it. You can now use Grab to save screenshots to a Web-friendly format.

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