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Screenshot Not Working on Mac | 10 Ways and Tips in 2024

Wondershare Recoverit Authors

Jan 27, 2024 • Filed to: Solve Mac Problems • Proven solutions

"Recently, I bought a MacBook Pro and it was working perfectly. But, I was surprised to see that the screenshot not working on Mac and they are not saving to my desktop. So, can you tell me how I can fix the "Mac OS Sierra screenshot not working and saving" problem?"

There is no doubt that taking a screenshot on Mac is quite straightforward because Apple has given an easy way to do that. However, a lot of users have complained that they have encountered a screenshot not working on Mac problem. If you are also one of those users who are going through this same issue, then you might be looking for methods to fix it.

Well, you have come to the right place. Here, in this article, we have mentioned several ways you can try to come out of this problem without much hassle.

Part 1. What Is a Screenshot?

The term "Screenshot" is also known as a snapshot or screen capture, or print screen. It is a picture that shows the contents of your computer display. In simple words, it allows you to capture whatever you are seeing on your device screen. Once a screenshot is taken, you can save it as an image file where you can open it to edit.

At present, the screenshot feature is quite helpful and that's it is present in all electronic devices, such as smartphones, computers, and tablets. The feature is very useful in many situations, such as when you have to share the screen picture with others or to provide software reviews.

Part 2. How to Fix Screenshot Not Working on Mac?

Well, you now got an idea about how to take a screenshot on Mac in the right way. But, if you still met with a screenshot not working on Mac problem, then try below methods that can probably help you to fix the issue with ease.

Solution 1. Check the Keyboard Shortcut Settings

You can use the keyboard shortcut "Command + Shift + 3" to take a full-screen screenshot and shortcut "Command + Shift + 4" to capture selected area unless you've activated the screenshots shortcuts.

By default, the screenshot keyboard shortcuts are activated. But, it might be the case that you have configured the settings and don't remember at all. Thus, in this case, all you have to do is to check if the screenshot shortcut is active on your Mac.

Here are simple steps on how you can check:

  1. To start with, go to the "Apple" menu and then, navigate to "System Preferences".
  2. Next, tap on "Keyboard" and next, tap on the "Shortcuts" tab.
  3. After that, tap on the "Screenshots" option from the left side of the window.
  4. Finally, make sure that all options here are check or active.

check keyboard shortcuts

Once you ensure keyboard shortcuts for screenshots on your Mac are active, try again to take a screenshot and see whether the problem is gone. If no, then don't be panic as you can try the following solutions to fix it.

Solution 2. Restart the Mac

Another thing you can try is simply restarting your Mac. Applications and programs won't work perfectly if you've not restarted your system for a long time. Thus, in such cases, a simple restart on Mac can probably fix the problem without many efforts. Luckily, many users have fixed the problem with this method and so, you must try it too.

There are three ways you can try to restart your Mac, which include:

  1. Press and hold down the "Power" button and choose the "Restart" option. Alternatively, you can use "Control + Eject" and choose "Restart".
  2. Go to the "Apple" menu and next, choose "Restart".

    restart from apple menu

  3. Use "Control + Command + Eject" or "Control + Command + Power" and next, choose "Restart".

After restarting your Mac, the problem should be fixed now. But, if not, then go for the next solutions to fix the screenshot not working on Mac issue.

Solution 3. Use Grab to Screenshot on Mac

There are also other ways to take a screenshot on Mac you might don't aware of them. So, instead of taking screenshots using keyboard shortcuts, use Grab to capture screen on your system. Grab is a pre-installed application for Mac OS X and macOS that allows you to take screenshots of the entire screen, the whole window, or only a specified area of your screen.

Here are the simple steps on how to use Grab utility to take screenshots on Mac:

  1. To start with, you need to open "Applications" and next, tap on "Utilities".
  2. After that, look for "Grab" and select it.
  3. Now, click on "Capture".


As per your requirements, you can choose any one option and take a screenshot.

Solution 4. Use Preview to Screenshot on Mac

If you encounter a problem like a screenshot on Mac not working, then you can use Preview to capture screenshots. Well, Preview is nothing, but default utility that lets you open and modifies or edit images. Besides this, you can also take a screenshot on Mac using the Preview tool.

Here are simple steps on how to use Preview to screenshot on Mac:

  1. To begin with, navigate to "Preview".
  2. Next, tap on "File" and after that, select "Take Screenshot".
  3. Now, choose any one option as per your need.


Solution 5. Reset NVRAM

NVRAM is a small amount of computer memory that stores basic information about the computer’s specific settings, such as time zone, display resolution, recent kernel panic information, etc.

If the screenshot is not working on Mac, resetting the NVRAM can help you solve this issue.

  1. Shut down your Mac computer and restart it again by pressing the power button.
  2. When you hear the startup sound, you have to press Command + Option + P + R simultaneously until you see the system restart for the second time.

reset nvram to fix screenshot not working

Solution 6. Load into Safe Mode

Sometimes, the application installed on your Mac can be the reason for the screenshot not working on your Mac. To test this, you can boot your Mac into safe mode and check whether the screenshot feature works.

  1. Turn off the computer and wait for 15-20 seconds around.
  2. Restart the computer, then press and hold the Shift key until you see the login screen.
  3. After login, you will see Safe Boot at the top right of the computer screen.

boot mac into safe mode

Solution 7. Malware & Virus Scanning

The malware or virus can also cause the screenshot not working on Mac issue on your computer. In this case, you can run the anti-virus software to detect and remove the malware from your Mac.

Solution 8. Check the Saving Location of Screenshots

By default, the screenshot you take on Mac will be saved on the desktop, so that you can find the file easily. But if you change the saving location accidentally, you won’t find the screenshot files on the desktop anymore. But that doesn’t mean the screenshot is not working on Mac. You can find the saving location of screenshots in this way:

  1. Press Command + Shift + 5.
  2. Look to the bottom of the screen and click "Option".
  3. Check the saving location of the screenshot files.
  4. You can change the saving place to Desktop if you need.

change screenshot saving location

Solution 9. Move the Preference File

You can also move the preference file to the desktop to check whether the screenshot on Mac works. Follow this:

  1. Open Finder->Go->Go to the folder.
  2. Type the following path: ~/Library/Preferences/ and press Enter.
  3. Find the file: com.apple.ImageCaptureApp.plist, and move it to the desktop.
  4. Restart your computer and check if you can screenshot now.
  5. If it doesn’t work, delete the file and try again.

move preference file

Solution 10. Check your Dropbox Settings

If you’re using Dropbox, you need to change the settings so that the screenshots will be saved to Dropbox instead of on the desktop.

  1. Open Dropbox, and click Backups.
  2. Ensure that the Share screenshots using the Dropbox option is checked.

change dropbox setting

As you can see there are many alternatives to take a screenshot on Mac. Hopefully, the above methods help you to resolve the problem for you.

Part 3. How to Take a Screenshot on Mac?

Before you go for a solution to fix the screenshot not working on Mac issue, you need to first learn how to take a screenshot on Mac in the right way. It might be the case that you are capturing your system screen using the wrong commands and that's why you met with this annoying problem.

Method 1. Screenshot a Window

To screen capture for a window on Man, you need to follow the below steps:

  1. Use "Command + Shift + 4" at the same time. As you see crosshairs on your screen, use the "Space" key to hover the cursor over the window. Next, click either on the trackpad or mouse. Don't forget to hold the Space bar when you are dragging.
  2. Now, you will see the Camera icon, and your window will turn into a grey color. If you end up opening multiple windows, then select the one you like to capture. Finally, tap on the mouse, and you are done with capturing the screenshot for the window.
  3. After that, you can either right-click on the application icon and choose "Move to Trash" option or you can simply drag the program icon to the Trash.

    screenshot window

Method 2. Screenshot the entire screen

To capture the entire screen, follow the steps:

  1. To start with, you have to use "Command + Shift+ 3" keys at the same time.
  2. Next, you'll the camera shutter sound, and your screenshot will be saved on the desktop.

    screenshot entire screen

Method 3. Screenshot a portion of the screen

Follow the below steps to capture a part of your screen:

  1. Use "Command + Shift + 4" Keys at the same time. Using this shortcut, you will be able to take a screenshot of a specific portion.
  2. After pressing the keys, you will see a cross with some numbers. So, drag the cross across the region that you like to capture.

    screenshot portion

Method 4. Screenshot a dropdown menu

Follow the steps to capture a dropdown menu on Mac:

  1. First, open the menu and then, use "Command + Shift + 4" keys at the same time, and next, drag the cross to the region of the menu.
  2. Now, release the mouse to screenshot the region, and next, use the Space key to alter the pointer to a camera. Finally, press the menu to take a screenshot.

That's how you can take a screenshot on Mac. If the above steps didn't work to take and save a screenshot on your Mac, then check out the next section where we have mentioned some solutions that can fix the problem you're going through.

Video Guide on How To Take A Screenshot on Mac

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Part 4. How to Recover Lost Screenshots on Mac?

In some cases, although screenshots are saved by resolving the problem that screenshot not working on Mac, there are chances that you still lost them due to unknown reason. But, don't be panic if this situation happens to you because you still have a powerful method to recover your lost screenshots on your Mac. And that method is using Recoverit data recovery for Mac.

Luckily, Recoverit Data Recovery software is primarily designed to help those users who accidentally lost their files, such as photos, videos, audio, and documents. No matter how you lost your screenshots whether deleting by mistake, virus attack, or sudden power failure, the tool is powerful enough to work under numerous data loss scenarios.

Recovering media files with this tool takes a few minutes and three easy steps. In order to get back lost screenshots using Recoverit, you need to first download and install the software on your computer. Once you installed the software, follow the below steps:

Step 1: Select the screenshot drive

To start with, run Recoverit. Now, you need to choose a hard drive location from where you have lost your screenshots and click the Start button.

select scan location

Step 2: Scan the Location

Now, the program will start looking for lost files by performing a scan on your selected hard drive location. Here, it may take several minutes to complete the entire scan process.

scan location

Step 3: Preview and Recover

Finally, preview the files and choose the desired files you want to get back after the scan is complete. And click on the "Recover" button to save recovered screenshots on your Mac.

recover email

So, you now know what you can do if you ever lost your important files on Mac. However, while you are saving recovered screenshots on Mac, don't save them to the location from where they get lost.

Part 5. Tips against Screenshot Not Working on Mac

Hopefully, the problem screenshot not working on Mac is fixed for you with the help of the above-mentioned methods. However, here are some more tips and tricks you can try to avoid facing the same problem again in the future.

  • If you're not good at remembering keyboard shortcuts, then use Grab or Preview to take a screenshot on your system.
  • It might be the case that keyboard shortcuts of your Mac are damaged and that's why you are not able to capture a screen using keys.
  • You may have changed the default location for saving screenshots and that's why it seems to you that screenshots aren't working on your Mac. So, check the location where your Mac screenshots are saved.
  • Sometimes, third-party applications installed on your system prevent the proper functioning of other Mac utilities or programs. So, uninstall or get rid of third-party apps if you've on your system.
  • Mac systems are also susceptible to bugs and viruses, which can corrupt your system. As a result, you can face a screenshot, not a working issue. Thus, use anti-virus to protect your system from bugs.

The problem that screenshot not working on Mac can be easily resolved if you know the right solutions for this. Luckily, here we have listed all probable methods that can help you to fix the issue with ease. Plus, if you ever end up losing your important screenshots on Mac, then we have also provided the solution to this problem too. It is Recoverit data recovery for Mac. With the help of this tool, you can easily rescue your lost screenshots.

Recoverit author

Sue Wayne

staff Editor

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