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How do I change the default location of screenshots on the Mac?

Change screenshots folder on Mac

To take a quick screenshot on the Mac you can use key combination Command + Shift + 3. There are other shortcuts too. But whatever you use, the screenshot will be saved on the Mac Desktop as a png image file by default.

This default location of the saved Mac screenshots is fine for most people. However, those of us who routinely take screenshots, will end up with a super-cluttered desktop which can be quite distracting… and messy!

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Save screenshots on the Mac to specified folder

The solution is to change the default location in which the Mac stores the screenshots and here is how you go about it.

  • Launch Finder
  • Create a new folder to which you want to save the screenshots
  • Name this new folder
  • Click icon to open Spotlight search
  • Search for Terminal in Spotlight
  • Open a Terminal window
  • Type command to change default screenshots folder
  • Hit enter to execute command
  • Issue command to apply changes without rebooting
  • Hit enter key
  • Type exit to close terminal session
  • Terminal session closed
  • Close terminal window
  1. Launch a Finder window and create a folder in which you want to store the screenshots. For those who want to use an existing folder, that’s fine too!
    For instance, I created a folder called screenshots under the Documents folder [Slides 1, 2 and 3].
  2. Now open a terminal window. If you don’t know how to do that, use Spotlight search, type in the keyword terminal and then click to open a Terminal window [Slides 4, 5 and 6].
  3. Type in the following command [Slide 7]. Make sure you change the path of the storage folder if it’s different from what I use.
    defaults write com.apple.screencapture location ~/Documents/screenshots

    The funny looking ~ character is called the tilde and is located to the left of the digit 1 key. You need to press Shift to get it.

  4. Hit the Return key to execute the command [Slide 8].
  5. The next step is to issue the following command and hit Return [Slides 9 and 10].
    killall SystemUIServer

    This ensures that the changes are implemented (i.e., the folder to which screenshots are saved on the Mac is changed) without the need of rebooting the computer.

  6. Logout of Terminal by entering exit at the prompt and hitting Return [Slides 11 and 12]. Close the Terminal window in the standard way [Slide 13].
  7. To test out everything, take a screenshot with the standard Command + Shift + 3.
  8. Open your chosen folder and behold the screenshot you’ve just captured!

Revert to the default screenshots folder

To revert to the default, issue:

defaults write com.apple.screencapture location ~/Desktop

Followed by:

killall SystemUIServer

Let me know how this has worked for you or if you have something that I can add so that it helps others.

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