How to Crop a Screenshot on Mac

Cropping a screenshot on your Mac can be a useful skill to have, especially when you want to focus on a specific part of the image or remove unwanted elements. Fortunately, macOS provides a built-in feature that allows you to easily crop screenshots without the need for any third-party software. In this article, we’ll walk you through the steps to crop a screenshot on your Mac, so you can quickly edit and share your captured images.

Capturing screenshots is a common task for many Mac users, whether it’s for work, school, or simply sharing something interesting with friends. Being able to crop these screenshots effectively can enhance their impact and convey your message more clearly. So, let’s dive into the world of cropping screenshots on Mac and discover the simple yet powerful tools at your disposal.

1. Capturing a Screenshot on Mac

Before we learn how to crop a screenshot, let’s quickly review how to capture one in the first place. Mac provides several shortcuts to capture different types of screenshots:

1.1. Full Screen

To capture the entire screen, simply press Shift + Command + 3. The screenshot will be saved as a PNG file on your desktop.

1.2. Selected Area

If you only want to capture a specific area of the screen, use Shift + Command + 4. Your cursor will turn into a crosshair. Click and drag to select the desired area, then release the mouse button to capture the screenshot.

1.3. Window or Menu

To capture a specific window or menu, press Shift + Command + 4, then press the Spacebar. Your cursor will change into a camera icon. Hover over the window or menu you want to capture and click on it. The screenshot will be saved as a PNG file on your desktop.

1.4. Touch Bar (for MacBook Pro users)

If you have a MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar, you can capture its contents by pressing Shift + Command + 6. The screenshot will be saved as a PNG file on your desktop.

2. Opening the Screenshot in Preview

Once you’ve captured a screenshot, the next step is to open it in the Preview app. Preview is a versatile tool that comes pre-installed on your Mac, offering various image editing features, including cropping.

2.1. Finding the Screenshot

To find your screenshot, navigate to your desktop or the location where your screenshots are saved. The screenshot files are usually named according to the date and time they were captured.

2.2. Opening the Screenshot in Preview

Double-click on the screenshot file, and it will automatically open in the Preview app. Alternatively, you can right-click on the file and select “Open With” > “Preview” from the context menu.

2.3. Opening Preview from the Dock

If you prefer, you can also open the Preview app first by clicking on its icon in the Dock. Then, go to “File” > “Open” and select the screenshot file you want to crop.

2.4. Using the “Recent” Menu

If you’ve recently used Preview to edit another image, you can access your screenshot quickly through the “Recent” menu.

2.4. Using the “Recent” Menu

In Preview, click on the “File” menu at the top of the screen. You’ll see a list of recently opened files under the “Open Recent” section. Simply select your screenshot from the list to open it.

3. Cropping the Screenshot

Now that you have your screenshot open in Preview, it’s time to crop it. Follow these steps to crop the desired area:

3.1. Select the Crop Tool

In the toolbar at the top of the Preview window, click on the “Show Markup Toolbar” button, which looks like a toolbox. Then, select the “Rectangular Selection” tool, which resembles a dotted square.

3.2. Define the Crop Area

Click and drag your cursor to define the area you want to keep in the screenshot. You can adjust the selection by clicking and dragging the corners or edges of the highlighted area. This allows you to fine-tune the cropping boundaries.

3.3. Crop the Screenshot

Once you’re satisfied with the selected area, go to the “Tools” menu and choose “Crop” or simply press Command + K on your keyboard. The screenshot will be cropped, and the rest of the image will be removed.

3.4. Save the Cropped Screenshot

To save the cropped screenshot, go to the “File” menu and select “Save” or press Command + S. Choose the desired file name and location, and select the file format (such as PNG or JPEG). Click “Save” to save the cropped screenshot.

4. Additional Editing Options

Besides cropping, Preview offers a range of editing options to enhance your screenshots further. Here are four additional editing features:

4.1. Adjusting Colors and Contrast

Click on the “Show Markup Toolbar” button, then select the “Adjust Color” tool, which resembles a slider. Use the various sliders to adjust the colors, contrast, saturation, and other image attributes to your liking.

4.2. Adding Annotations and Text

In the Markup Toolbar, you’ll find options to add annotations, text, shapes, and signatures to your screenshot. These tools allow you to highlight specific areas, add explanatory notes, or personalize the image with text or shapes.

4.3. Rotating and Flipping

If your screenshot needs to be rotated or flipped, go to the “Tools” menu and select the “Rotate Left,” “Rotate Right,” “Flip Horizontal,” or “Flip Vertical” options. These options can help you align the image correctly or achieve a desired orientation.

4.4. Resizing the Image

If you want to adjust the dimensions of your screenshot, go to the “Tools” menu, select “Adjust Size,” and enter the desired width and height. You can also choose a specific resolution or maintain the aspect ratio while resizing.

5. Sharing the Cropped Screenshot

Once you have cropped and edited your screenshot, it’s time to share it with others. Preview offers multiple ways to share your cropped screenshot:

5.1. Saving to a Different Format

If you want to save your cropped screenshot in a different format, such as JPEG or TIFF, you can easily do so in Preview. Go to the “File” menu, select “Export,” and choose the desired file format. This allows you to optimize the image for specific purposes or compatibility with different platforms.

5.2. Sharing via Email

Preview enables you to share your cropped screenshot directly through email. Click on the “Share” button in the toolbar, and select the “Email” option. This will open a new email message with the cropped screenshot attached, ready for you to address and send to the intended recipient.

5.3. Using the Share Sheet

The Share Sheet in macOS allows you to share your cropped screenshot through various platforms and applications. Click on the “Share” button in the toolbar, and choose the desired sharing option from the list, such as Messages, AirDrop, Notes, or social media platforms. This provides a convenient way to distribute your screenshot across different channels.

5.4. Copying and Pasting

If you prefer to share your cropped screenshot in another application or document, you can simply copy and paste it. With the cropped screenshot open in Preview, go to the “Edit” menu and select “Copy” or use the keyboard shortcut Command + C. Then, navigate to the desired application or document and paste the screenshot using Command + V.

6. Using Keyboard Shortcuts

To speed up your workflow when cropping screenshots, macOS offers several keyboard shortcuts:

6.1. Quick Crop Shortcut

After selecting the area you want to crop using the “Rectangular Selection” tool, you can quickly crop the screenshot by pressing the Return or Enter key. This eliminates the need to go to the “Tools” menu and choose “Crop.”

6.2. Copying the Cropped Screenshot

If you want to copy the cropped screenshot directly to the clipboard instead of saving it as a file, you can use the keyboard shortcut Command + Control + C. This allows for immediate pasting into other applications or documents.

6.3. Opening in Preview from Capture

If you want to open the captured screenshot directly in Preview without navigating to the file location, you can use the keyboard shortcut Command + Control + Spacebar. This opens the captured screenshot in Preview, ready for cropping and editing.

6.4. Closing the Markup Toolbar

After you have finished cropping and editing the screenshot, you can quickly close the Markup Toolbar by pressing the Escape key. This gives you a clutter-free view of the screenshot and allows for easier navigation or further actions.

7. Utilizing Third-Party Apps

While macOS provides a capable built-in tool for cropping screenshots, there are also third-party apps available that offer advanced features and customization options. Some popular options include:

7.1. Snagit

Snagit is a powerful screen capture and image editing software that provides a wide range of tools, including advanced cropping options, annotations, and effects. It offers additional features like scrolling capture, video recording,

7.2. Skitch

Skitch is a lightweight and intuitive screenshot editing tool that allows you to crop, annotate, and share your screenshots effortlessly. It offers various markup tools, including arrows, shapes, and text, to enhance your cropped screenshots.

7.3. Lightshot

Lightshot is a popular screenshot tool that provides quick and easy cropping capabilities. It allows you to capture a specific area, crop the screenshot, and instantly share it through various platforms. Lightshot also offers basic editing features like text and drawing tools.

7.4. Snip & Sketch (Windows Compatibility)

If you’re using a Mac that is also compatible with Windows, you can utilize the Snip & Sketch app, which is built into Windows 10. It provides cropping and annotation features, similar to the Mac’s Preview app, allowing you to crop screenshots seamlessly.

8. Automating Screenshot Cropping

If you frequently need to crop screenshots on your Mac, you can save time and effort by automating the process. Here are a few options to consider:

8.1. Automator

Mac’s built-in Automator tool allows you to create custom workflows and automate repetitive tasks. You can create an Automator workflow that automatically opens screenshots in Preview, applies a predefined crop, and saves the cropped image to a specified location.

8.2. Third-Party Automation Tools

Various third-party automation tools, such as Keyboard Maestro, BetterTouchTool, and Alfred, offer advanced automation capabilities. With these tools, you can create complex automation workflows that can include cropping screenshots based on predefined criteria or triggers.

8.3. Scripts

If you have some programming knowledge, you can write scripts using AppleScript or Automator’s scripting capabilities. These scripts can be designed to automatically crop screenshots in a specific way, either by specifying coordinates or using image recognition techniques.

8.4. Keyboard Maestro Macros

Keyboard Maestro, a popular automation tool for Mac, allows you to create macros that can be triggered by specific keystrokes or actions. You can create a Keyboard Maestro macro that opens the captured screenshot in Preview, performs the cropping operation, and saves the cropped image.

9. Troubleshooting Cropping Issues

If you encounter any issues while cropping screenshots on your Mac, here are a few troubleshooting steps to try:

9.1. Update macOS and Preview

Ensure that your macOS and Preview app are up to date. Sometimes, issues with cropping screenshots can be resolved by installing the latest software updates, which often include bug fixes and improvements.

9.2. Restart Preview

If Preview becomes unresponsive or behaves unexpectedly, try quitting the app and reopening it. This can help resolve temporary glitches that may be affecting the cropping functionality.

9.3. Reset Preview Preferences

If you’re experiencing persistent issues with Preview’s cropping features, you can try resetting the app’s preferences. To do this, go to the “Preview” menu, select “Preferences,” and click on the “Reset” button. Keep in mind that this will reset all your custom preferences in Preview.

9.4. Contact Apple Support

If the cropping issues persist or if you encounter more serious problems, it’s advisable to reach out to Apple Support. They can provide personalized assistance and guide you through troubleshooting steps specific to your Mac model and operating system version. Visit Apple’s support website or contact their customer support directly for further assistance.

10. The Importance of Cropping Screenshots

Cropping screenshots may seem like a simple task, but it plays a significant role in enhancing the visual impact and conveying your message effectively. Here are a few reasons why cropping screenshots is important:

10.1. Focus on Relevant Information

By cropping screenshots, you can eliminate unnecessary elements and focus on the specific information or details that matter. This helps viewers understand your point without distractions and increases the clarity of your message.

10.2. Remove Personal or Sensitive Data

Sometimes, screenshots may contain personal or sensitive information that you don’t want to share publicly. Cropping allows you to remove such data before sharing the screenshot, ensuring privacy and data protection.

10.3. Optimize for Presentation and Documentation

Whether you’re creating presentations, reports, or documentation, cropped screenshots can make them more professional and visually appealing. By cropping, you can align screenshots with the content, create consistency, and make your materials more engaging.

10.4. Improve Visual Communication

Visuals are a powerful means of communication, and cropped screenshots can significantly improve the visual impact. By focusing on the essential elements, you can convey your message more effectively, engage your audience, and enhance overall communication.

11. The Art of Composition in Cropping

Cropping is not just about removing unwanted elements; it also involves composition and visual aesthetics. Here are some key considerations for achieving an effective composition when cropping screenshots:

11.1. Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is a compositional guideline that suggests dividing an image into a grid of nine equal parts by placing two vertical and two horizontal lines. The key elements in the screenshot should be positioned along these lines or at their intersections, creating a visually pleasing composition.

11.2. Balancing Elements

When cropping, ensure that the remaining elements within the screenshot are balanced. Avoid having too much weight or visual emphasis on one side, as this can create an imbalance and distract the viewer. Instead, distribute the visual elements evenly for a harmonious composition.

11.3. Leading Lines

Leading lines are lines within the screenshot that guide the viewer’s eyes towards a specific point of interest. When cropping, consider utilizing or enhancing leading lines to direct the viewer’s attention and create a sense of depth or movement within the image.

11.4. Negative Space

Negative space refers to the empty or blank areas in a composition. When cropping, leave some negative space around the main subject to provide breathing room and enhance visual impact. This allows the subject to stand out and adds a sense of balance and elegance to the overall composition.

12. Ethical Considerations

While cropping screenshots can be a useful tool, it’s essential to be mindful of ethical considerations. Here are some ethical guidelines to keep in mind:

12.1. Respect Privacy

When sharing cropped screenshots, ensure that you respect the privacy of individuals involved. Avoid sharing screenshots that contain personal or sensitive information without proper consent. Always consider the potential impact and consequences of sharing cropped screenshots, and prioritize the privacy and well-being of others.

12.2. Obtain Permission

If you plan to share cropped screenshots that involve others, especially in a public or professional context, it’s important to obtain their permission. Respect their right to control the use of their image or information, and seek explicit consent before sharing cropped screenshots that may identify or affect them.

12.3. Consider Context and Consent

Be mindful of the context in which you’re sharing cropped screenshots. Consider whether it aligns with the original purpose of the screenshot and whether it serves a legitimate and ethical objective. Additionally, obtain consent from relevant parties when sharing cropped screenshots in public or professional settings.

12.4. Avoid Misrepresentation

Ensure that cropped screenshots accurately represent the intended message or context. Avoid selectively cropping screenshots to manipulate or misrepresent information. Maintaining transparency and integrity in the use of cropped screenshots is essential to ethical communication.

13. Staying Organized with Cropped Screenshots

As you capture and crop multiple screenshots, it’s important to stay organized to efficiently manage and locate them. Here are some tips for organizing your cropped screenshots:

13.1. Create a Dedicated Folder

Designate a specific folder on your Mac to store your cropped screenshots. This will help keep them organized and easily accessible whenever you need them. Consider creating subfolders within the main folder for different categories or projects.

13.2. Use Descriptive File Names

When saving cropped screenshots, use descriptive file names that clearly indicate the content or purpose of each screenshot. This will make it easier to search for specific screenshots later and quickly identify their relevance.

13.3. Add Metadata or Tags

Consider adding metadata or tags to your cropped screenshots. This can include keywords, dates, project names, or any other relevant information. Adding metadata will enhance searchability and provide additional context for your screenshots.

13.4. Regularly Review and Delete Unnecessary Screenshots

Periodically review your collection of cropped screenshots and delete any that are no longer needed. This will help keep your storage space organized and prevent clutter. Regularly purging unnecessary screenshots will also make it easier to find and manage the screenshots that truly matter.

14. Exploring Advanced Editing Techniques

Besides basic cropping, Preview and other third-party apps offer various advanced editing techniques that can further enhance your cropped screenshots. Here are a few advanced editing options to explore:

14.1. Filters and Effects

Experiment with different filters and effects to add style and visual impact to your cropped screenshots. Adjust the brightness, contrast, saturation, or apply artistic filters to create a unique and visually appealing result.

14.2. Layers and Blending Modes

If you’re using more advanced image editing software, consider utilizing layers and blending modes to overlay and combine multiple cropped screenshots or other elements. This allows for creative compositions and visual storytelling.

14.3. Retouching and Cloning

If there are imperfections or unwanted objects in your cropped screenshots, explore retouching and cloning tools. These tools allow you to remove blemishes, scratches, or distracting elements by blending them seamlessly into the surrounding areas.

14.4. Adding Text and Annotations

Consider adding text or annotations to your cropped screenshots to provide additional context or explanations. Use text boxes, callouts, arrows, or highlighting tools to emphasize specific areas or provide instructions.

15. Practice and Experimentation

Cropping screenshots effectively is a skill that improves with practice and experimentation. Take the time to explore different cropping techniques, experiment with various compositions, and analyze the impact of your cropped screenshots. The more you practice, the better you’ll become at conveying your message and creating visually appealing images.

15.1. Try Different Cropping Ratios

Don’t limit yourself to a single cropping ratio. Experiment with different aspect ratios, such as square, landscape, or portrait orientations, to see which one best suits your specific screenshot and its intended purpose.

15.2. Seek Inspiration

Look for inspiration in websites, magazines, or other sources that showcase well-cropped images. Analyze how the composition and cropping contribute to the overall impact and message of the image. Take inspiration from these examples to enhance your own cropping skills.

15.3. Solicit Feedback

Don’t hesitate to seek feedback from others regarding your cropped screenshots. Share them with trusted colleagues, friends, or online communities to gather different perspectives and insights. Constructive feedback can help you refine your cropping techniques and improve your overall skills.

15.4. Stay Updated with Software Features

Keep yourself updated with the latest features and updates in cropping and image editing software. New tools and techniques are constantly being developed that can enhance your cropping capabilities and streamline your workflow. Stay informed and take advantage of these advancements.


Cropping screenshots on your Mac is a valuable skill that allows you to focus on important details, remove distractions, and enhance visual communication. With the built-in tools available in macOS, particularly the Preview app, cropping screenshots is a straightforward process that can be further enhanced with advanced editing techniques. By practicing and experimenting with different cropping approaches, considering ethical considerations, and staying organized, you can create impactful cropped screenshots that effectively convey your message. So, go ahead, capture those screenshots, and start cropping them to make a visual impact!

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