Grab

Grab is a great little utility supplied with your Mac you can use to make screen shots of your Mac’s desktop or application windows.  Once you have made the picture using one of Grab’s modes, you can save it as a .tiff file.  You can then place the file in any application you wish that handles .tiff files, use it as is as an illustration, modify it, or save it out in some other format.  All the screenshots of OS X to be found on this website were taken using Grab.  They were then imported into Adobe Photoshop where they were modified as necessary before being saved out in .jpg format.

 The Grab utility can be found in your Applications/Utility folder as shown below.

As with all OS X applications, double-clicking  on its icon will launch the program.

 Grab is very easy to use.  It can capture screen shots using four different methods: selection, window, screen, and timed screen.  You select which method you want to use via the Capture menu shown below.

(NOTE: The window floating above the screen is an actual screen shot captured by Grab.)

 Click on “Selection” and a small window will appear telling you to use your mouse cursor to drag over the area you wish to capture.  A red box will appear and show you the area you are surrounding as you drag.  When you let go of your mouse button, a new window will appear containing the screen shot you selected.   Click on File/Save to save  the shot in a .tiff format in whatever folder you would like.

 If you click on “Window”, a box will appear telling you to click on a window you would like to capture.  This is handy for capturing application or folder windows but nothing else. (Note: Due to a software bug, this menu item may be “greyed out”—meaning it does not work—in OS 10.0 through 10.2.)

 If you click on “Screen”, a box will appear telling you to click anywhere outside the window (the box) to have Grab capture the screen.  It will capture the screen--all of the screen-- at exactly that instant.

 If you click on “Timed Screen”, a window will pop up that tells you the screenshot will be taken ten seconds after you click anywhere outside the window.  The window will contain a picture of a camera with a flash on its left, and you’ll see the timer as a rotating red dial that fills the flash until the time is up.  The camera’s flash will go off, and the screen shot will be taken.  I actually find this function the most helpful because of how OS X windows work.   A truly accurate picture of an application window will show the window as active.  Using any selection command in the Grab menus makes a Grab window active.  By using the “Timed Screen” command, I have time to click on the application window I’m interested in to ensure it’s the active window when the snapshot is taken.  I then use Photoshop to crop the screenshot down to just the active window I want or I resize the screen to a workable

In any case, once the capture is performed, the screenshot will appear in a separate window.  The window name will bear a .tiff extension, which is the graphics format Grab saves screenshots in. Click on File/Save or Save As to save the screenshot  in a .tiff (graphics) format. 

To illustrate, I used Grab to capture a shot of the Word document I used to build this webpage, and then used Grab again to capture a screenshot of the window it had created.

If you look at the little red button at the top left corner of the window, you can see a black dot in the center.  That tells you that the screenshot has not been saved.  Click on File/Save to name, place, and save the screenshot.

I could have done the same with any application window I was running, or I could have taken a picture of my entire screen.  Of course, Grab will capture a screenshot at the resolution of the actual display, so you’ll probably need a photo editor to resize the screenshot and make it usable. 

And that’s all there is to using Grab…

Click here to return to Managing Your System.