Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Change Your Screen-Capture Default Type

Most Mac users know that Command-Shift-3 will take a screen shot (called a capture) of the whole screen and save it to the Desktop.

And most of those same people know that Command-Shift-4 lets you do a partial screen capture... executing that key-combo turns the cursor into sort of a gun-sight cross-hairs, which you can use to drag a rectangle around the area of your screen that you want to capture — clicking in one corner of the area you want and then, while holding the button down, dragging to the opposite diagonal corner then letting go.

If your speakers are turned up, you'll hear a retro-film-style camera shutter sound.

But by default, depending on your version of OS X, the image is saved as a PDF or a PNG image format — which are usually, in my opinion, not the format you want to use for e-mailing someone a shot of what you're looking at on your screen. The Mac PDFs, by default, are bloated with unneeded quality, and PNGs are not viewable on older systems, browsers or many e-mail programs.

PC users can get a capture of their whole screen, too, in BMP format, but hitting the Print Screen key on their keyboard, then opening Start > Programs > Accessories > Paint and then executing the Paste command.

You may need to change Finder Settings to even see the file extension. Learn about that here.

Change the format of the capture!
If you are not too squeamish about using the Terminal Application just long enough to make the change and then quitting (think of the "5-second Rule" for food that hits the ground), start up Terminal (found at Applications > Utilities > Terminal) and, after the screen prompt with is your "home account name and some other odd characters" type (or select, copy and paste) the following:

defaults write type jpg

Double-check to make sure you have typed it correctly. Hit the Enter or Return key to "execute that command," then quit Terminal.

After your next computer restart, all your screen captures will be in jpg format.

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