By default OS X saves screenshots in the .png image format. The destination used to save the captured screenshot is by default the Mac Desktop. At times I wondered if I could alter the settings to change the screenshot format as well as its location. Due to plenty of screen captures in a day, my desktop becomes horribly cluttered.

To begin with, I must launch the Terminal application by opening Finder -> Applications -> Utilities -> Terminal. As we know, the Terminal application is mainly about the flow of commands to execute a task. All you need to know is the exact command lines used to execute these tasks.


Change Default Image Capture Format

Launch Terminal & type the following code: 

defaults write type jpg

Hit “Return” key & terminal will proceed to replace the default PNG output format of the captured screenshot with the JPEG type. Other than JPG & PNG you can migrate to TIFF, BMP, GIF and PDF formats to save your captured screenshots.

change default screenshot to jpeg

change where screenshot is saved

Change default screenshot format

Now as you can see the format has been changed to the JPG output. You might be wondering why you’d even want to change the default image capture format. JPEG is a compressed image format, it’s the most popular amongst web users. Some photographers as well consider JPGs a more realistic format for an image type file.

As you can see in the adjacent image the .png file is almost 3 times the file size of the .jpg image.

You might however encounter an error if you enter an image format that is not accepted by Mac OS X. For example, I entered .raw & .pam formats but received the error “You don’t have permission to save the files in the locations where screen shots are stored”. If you got the above error message don’t panic. To rollback to the previous image format simply enter the terminal command line with the PNG or JPG suffix. Hit “Return” and your screenshot will again be saved in desired image format.


Change Default Screenshot Destination

Now to change the default location of the captured screenshots. Thanks to Terminal, this is again a very simple operation.

Enter this command into Terminal and press the “Return” key:

defaults write location Enter Desired Location

For your purpose you can make a folder in any volume then right-click and select “Get Info” to show its path. Then just simply replace “Enter Desired Location” with your folder location. For example mine is setup like this:

defaults write location Volumes/Test_Mac/Screenshots

After pressing the Return key you have to log out and then log back in for the changes to take effect.

Once logged back in press CMD+SHIFT+3 or CMD+SHIFT+4 to take a screenshot. Check the folder which you gave as the destination in Terminal and you should see your customized screenshot. These couple of tips might bring significant change in your user-experience.

For more information on taking screenshot on your Mac and what other keyboard shortcuts exist to make life easier be sure to check out this other article: Take a screenshot of your Mac.