All Biased

A blog mostly about Mac, iPhone & iPad use

My streamlined OS X screenshot workflow

My job involves dealing with a lot of screen captures. Not having to spend more time than necessary making them saves me time.

I have used Voila, ScreenFloat, Skitch, Screeny and Pixelmator as my main screenshot tools in the past. They all do special things that I like, but none of them can do all of it.

Now I have a OS X stock app only screen capture workflow that does almost everything I need and in the most time efficient way so far:

I use OS X built-in Grab.app to capture the screenshots. It can grab the whole screen, a certain part of the screen or a window. I use the keyboard shortcuts to save time:

  • Cmd-Shift-4: Captures the area I select
  • Cmd-Shift-4, then Space: Captures the window I select
  • Cmd-Shift-3: Captures the whole screen

Screenshots are saved on the desktop. As soon as an image file lands on the desktop I have an Automator folder action that renames the file with capture date and time. (That can be done by the Grab.app as well but I want them formatted a certain way.) Then the same folder action copies the file to the clipboard and opens it in OS X Preview.app so I can start working with it.

OS X Preview is a very capable image editor
OS X Preview is a very capable image editor

Preview.app is very capable. Among other things it can show lots of different file formats, it can be used for cropping, annotating, resizing, trimming, adjusting colors, converting, renaming and rotating images. It's also easy to put figures, arrows and speech bubbles on images in Preview.

To make Preview as easy to use as possible I have made a couple of adjustments:

  • In General settings I have ticked Open all files in one window.
  • In the View menu I have chosen Thumbnails and Show Edit Toolbar.

A Hazel rule automatically moves screenshots from the desktop to another folder after a couple of days. I don't like to have unnecessary clutter on the desktop.

The two things I can't do in this workflow is taking screenshots of whole web pages and program menus. For that I still use Voila. Luckily I don't need those features very often.

Related reading:

Remove shadows on screen captures in OS X

Use OS X Accessibility Zoom to magnify your Mac screen

Published 21 jan 2013 by Niklas Johansson
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