Seeing is Believing Tech Support for Mac

Some incredible things happen on computer screens and sometimes they are hard to describe or they include a lot of information that is too much work to copy down.

If you need help with something that happened on your screen take a picture of your screen and send a copy to your tech support.

Macintosh Screen Capture

Besides the standard screen capture Command (Apple)-Shift-3, there are other ways to capture the screen.

If you have Mac OSX, it’s easy to use the built-in key commands for grabbing a screen.

* Press Command (Apple)-Shift-4. The pointer turns into a bull’s eye.
Select the area of the screen you wish to capture. The screen area is captured and saved as a PDF file called Picture 1 on your desktop.

* If you hold down Control-Command (Apple)-Shift-4 while clicking the bull’s eye, the image is stored on the clipboard.

Grab Utility

If you have Mac OSX, you can also use the Grab Utility. This allows you to capture windows that are open.

* Open Grab (located in Applications/Utility).

* Choose Capture > Timed Screen.

* When the Timed Screen Grab dialog opens, click Start Timer.

* Click the menu you want to capture and keep the mouse button pressed until the Timer Screen Grab dialog closes and the picture appears.

example timed menu image

Example of a timed screen capture of a menu.

* Use the Grab preferences for options such as showing the pointer.

pointer type selection

pointer type example

To keep things organized and for safe keeping you can select the Picture 1 pdf file on your desktop, rename the file with a memorable name of your choosing, and save it in your Pictures folder. If you are taking lots of screenshots you might even want to create a screenshots folder within your Pictures folder or even folders by date. Then you can easily find your screenshots that you can send to tech support and prove that you are not crazy.


Many of the screen shots I use are Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

There are lots of free programs (like Skitch) for doing fancier screen shots and annotating or editing them afterwards but have fun with the basics first.

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