Cropping a Screenshots Made Easy: Mac Tips and Tricks

The ability to take screenshots and crop them efficiently is a valuable skill for Mac users. Whether you need to highlight a specific area, remove unnecessary elements, or create visually appealing content, knowing how to quickly and easily crop a screenshot can save you time and increase your productivity.

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In this guide, we'll explore the built-in screenshot capabilities of macOS and focus on using the default Preview app for cropping. We'll walk you through the steps for cropping screenshots, from opening them in Preview to mastering the different cropping techniques. Plus, we'll also explore some advanced editing features and helpful keyboard shortcuts to streamline the cropping process.

How to Crop a Screenshots on Mac

By the end of this tutorial, you'll be armed with the knowledge and skills to crop screenshots on your Mac like a pro. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced user, we aim to make the process easy, efficient and enjoyable. So, let's delve deeper and unlock the full potential of your Mac's screenshot cropping capabilities!

Understanding Mac's Built-in Screenshot Tool

Mac's built-in Screenshot tool is a powerful and convenient feature that allows you to easily capture images of your screen. It offers several options for taking screenshots, making it a versatile tool for a variety of purposes.

1. Capture Screenshot:

macOS offers three primary methods for capturing screenshots:

Command+Shift+3: Captures the entire screen and saves it as a file on your desktop.
Command + Shift + 4: Allows you to select a specific area on the screen to capture.
Command+Shift+4+Spacebar: Captures a specific window or application.

2. Saving Screenshot:

When you take a screenshot, macOS automatically saves the image to your desktop. Saved screenshots are named with a timestamp by default.

3. Access to Captured Screenshots:

To locate your screenshots, you can find them in the "Screenshots" folder on your desktop or under the "Pictures" directory.

4. Using the Screenshot Shortcut:

For quick access to screenshot features, you can customize keyboard shortcuts in System Preferences. This allows you to set a specific key combination to capture a screenshot without launching any additional applications.

5. Additional Options:

In addition to basic screenshot options, macOS also provides some advanced features through the "Screenshot Options" menu. These include options to show the mouse pointer, enable a timer for delayed capture, and include a Touch Bar in screenshots.

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By mastering Mac's built-in screenshot tools, you can easily and efficiently capture any part of your screen. This serves as a great base for cropping screenshots as we go through in this guide. So, let's continue exploring the art of cropping to get the most out of your captured images.

Getting Started with Cropping on mac

Getting Started with Cropping

To get started cropping a screenshot on your Mac, follow these steps:

1. Capture a Screenshot:

Use one of the three primary screenshot shortcuts:

Command + Shift + 3: Capture the entire screen.
Command + Shift + 4: Select a specific area to capture.
Command + Shift + 4 + Spacebar: Capture a specific window or application.

2. Open the screenshot in Preview:

Once you have taken the screenshot, it will be saved in the "Screenshots" folder on your desktop or under the "Pictures" directory. Find the screenshot you want to crop and double-click on it to open it in the default Preview app.

3. Access the cropping tool:

In the Preview app, you'll find a set of editing tools in the top toolbar. The cropping tool is represented by an icon that resembles a square with dotted lines around it. Click on this icon to select the cropping tool.

4. Select the area to crop:

With the Cropping Tool selected, click and drag your mouse to create a selection box around the area you want to keep. You can adjust the size and position of the selection to capture the exact portion you need.

5. Crop the screenshot:

Once you've selected the area to crop, go to the "Tools" menu at the top, and click "Crop" or simply press Command+K. This will remove the unwanted parts of the screenshot, leaving only the selected portion.

6. Save the cropped screenshot:

After cropping the screenshot, you can save it by clicking "File" in the top menu and selecting "Save" or "Save As." Choose a filename and location for the cropped image, and it will be saved with your desired modifications.

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You have now successfully cropped your screenshot using the Preview app on your Mac. Remember that Preview offers additional editing features such as annotations, text, and more, which you can tweak to further enhance your cropped screenshot. Happy harvest!

Cropping Techniques

Cropping Techniques

There are several cropping techniques that you can use in the Preview app on your Mac to get the desired results for your screenshots. Here are some useful techniques:

1. Manual Crop:

Use the Selection tool to manually draw a box around the area you want to contain in your screenshot. This technique gives you precise control over what is included and what is excluded from the cropped image.

2. Aspect Ratio Cropping:

Keep the aspect ratio of the original screenshot when cropping. To make sure that the cropped area maintains the same width-to-height ratio as the original, hold down the Shift key while dragging the selection box.

3. Fixed Size Crop:

If you want the cropped image to be a specific size, you can enter dimensions in the "Width" and "Height" fields of the cropping tool. It allows you to create screenshots with exact dimensions.

4. Centering the crop:

If the area you want to focus on is in the center of the screenshot, you can use the "Center" button in the cropping tool to quickly crop around that central point.

5. Crop and Rotate:

Preview also allows you to rotate the selection box before cropping. This feature comes in handy if you need to straighten an image or change its orientation.

6. Aspect Ratio Preset:

In the cropping tool, you can find a drop-down menu with predefined aspect ratio options, such as 16:9, 4:3, etc. These presets can be useful for specific use cases, such as creating images for social media or presentations.

7. Smart Lasso Selection:

For irregularly shaped objects, you can use the "Smart Lasso" tool to draw around the object, and Preview will automatically detect it and create a selection around it. This is useful for cropping non-rectangular areas.

8. Multiple Cutting:

If you want to crop the same area from multiple screenshots, you can copy and paste the cropped selection into other images, saving time and maintaining consistency.

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By experimenting with these cropping techniques, you can manipulate your screenshots to suit your specific needs, ensuring that the focus is on the most relevant and visually appealing parts of the image.

Advanced Cropping Features on mac

Advanced Cropping Features

In addition to basic cropping techniques, the Preview app on your Mac offers some advanced editing features to make your cropped screenshots look even better:

1. Revolve and Invert:

After selecting the cropping tool, you'll see the handles move around the selection box. Clicking and dragging these handles allows you to rotate the selection to the desired angle. In addition, you can also flip the selection horizontally or vertically for creative adjustments.

2. Annotation and Markup:

Preview provides various annotation tools, such as text boxes, shapes, arrows, and highlighting, that you can use to add explanatory notes or mark important areas on cropped screenshots. This is especially helpful when you want to give instructions or emphasize specific details.

3. Color Adjustment:

If your cropped screenshot needs color adjustment, you can access the "Adjust Color" feature in the "Tools" menu. This feature enables you to change the brightness, contrast, saturation, and other color settings to improve the visual quality of your cropped image.

4. Filters and Effects:

Preview allows you to apply various filters and effects to your cropped screenshot. You can access these options under the "Filter" menu, where you'll find options to apply sepia tone, grayscale, vignette, and more. These effects can add a creative touch to your images.

5. Transparency:

For some use cases, such as creating logos or graphics with transparent backgrounds, you can use the "Instant Alpha" tool. This tool lets you remove the background color of an image, making it transparent and suitable for overlays or web design.

6. Quick Image Adjustment:

To quickly fix your cropped screenshot without accessing separate menus, use the "Instant Alpha" and "Instant Enhance" buttons in the toolbar. These options provide one-click adjustments for transparency and overall image enhancement.

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By exploring these advanced cropping features, you can enhance your screenshots to a professional level, optimize them for specific purposes, and add your own creative flair. Remember to experiment with different combinations of effects and adjustments to get the desired visual effect in your cropped screenshot.

Saving and Exporting Cropped Screenshots

Saving and Exporting Cropped Screenshots

After cropping your screenshot in the Preview app on your Mac, you can save and export the edited image to a variety of formats and locations:

1. Saving the cropped screenshot:

Click on "File" in the top menu.
Select "Save" to overwrite the original screenshot file with the cropped version, preserving the same file format and location.
Optionally, select "Save As" to save the cropped screenshot with the new file name and location. This option is useful if you want to retain the original screenshot.

2. Exporting in different formats:

If you need the cropped screenshot in a different file format, go to "File" in the top menu, and select "Export..."
A window will appear, allowing you to select the desired file format from a drop-down menu (eg, JPEG, PNG, GIF, TIFF, etc.).
Choose a name and location for the exported file, then click "Save".

3. Adjusting Image Quality for Export:

When exporting to certain formats, such as JPEG, a "Quality" slider appears, which enables you to control image compression and file size. Higher quality results in a larger file size, while lower quality results in a smaller file size with some loss of image detail.

4. Exporting to other applications:

If you want to use the cropped screenshot in another application, such as a document, presentation, or graphic design software, you can drag and drop the image from Preview directly into the target application.

5. Sharing Cropped Screenshot:

To share the cropped screenshot with others, you can use email, messaging apps, or social media. Simply attach the image to your message or post it like any other image file.

6. Autosave in Photos:

If you're using macOS Catalina or later, you can enable the "Auto-save to Photos" option in Preview. It automatically saves your cropped screenshrots to the "Photos" app, making them easy to access from there.

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Remember to choose the proper file format and quality based on your intended use for the cropped screenshot. By mastering the saving and exporting process, you can effectively  your cropped screenshots across a variety of projects and platforms.

Keyboard Shortcuts for Faster Cropping

Keyboard Shortcuts for Faster Cropping

Using keyboard shortcuts can greatly speed up the cropping process in the Preview app on your Mac. Here are some useful keyboard shortcuts for faster cropping:

1. Enable Crop Tool:

Press "Command + K" to quickly select the cropping tool.

2. Move the selection box:

Use the arrow keys (Up, Down, Left, Right) to move the selection box pixel by pixel, allowing precise positioning.

3. Change the size of the selection box:

Hold down the Shift key while dragging any corner or edge of the selection box to maintain the aspect ratio and resize it proportionally.

4. Rotate Selection:

When the selection box is active, use the rotation handles (the small circles at the corners) to rotate the selection. Hold down the Shift key to rotate in 15-degree increments.

5. Invert Selection:

When the selection box is active, use “Command + Horizontal Arrow” to flip the selection horizontally, or “Command + Vertical Arrow” to flip it vertically.

6. Toggle between Crop and Aspect Ratio presets:

Press "Command+Option+X" to switch between cropping modes and quickly access aspect ratio presets.

7. Deselect and restart:

To deselect the current crop selection and resume, simply press "Command+D" or click outside the selection.

8. Plant crops:

Press "Command + K" or click the "Crop" button in the top toolbar to crop and remove unwanted parts.

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By incorporating these keyboard shortcuts into your cropping workflow, you can save time and gain better control over the cropping process. Remember to practice using these shortcuts, and soon, cropping screenshots will become a fast and efficient task on your Mac.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Troubleshooting Common Issues

When cropping screenshots on your Mac using the Preview app, you may encounter a few common problems. Here are troubleshooting tips to solve them:

1. Unexpected crop selection:

If you accidentally selected the wrong area or need to adjust the selection, press "Command+Z" to undo the crop and try again. Alternatively, you can click outside the selection to deselect and start again.

2. Crop Handles Missing:

If the crop handles are not visible, make sure you have the cropping tool selected ("Command + K"). Sometimes, handles may not be visible if you are in a different editing mode.

3. Cropping is Inefficient:

If the "Crop" option in the "Tools" menu or top toolbar is grayed out, make sure you have an active selection inside the image. The "Crop" option is only active when a selection is present.

4. Unable to rotate or flip:

Make sure the selection box is active before attempting to rotate or flip it. Click the selection to activate the rotation handles, and then use keyboard shortcuts or the mouse to rotate or flip.

5. Wrong Aspect Ratio:

To keep the original aspect ratio while resizing the selection, hold down the Shift key. This ensures that the selection maintains the same width-to-height ratio as the original screenshot.

6. Export Errors:

If you have problems exporting cropped screenshots, double-check the file format and file name you selected. Make sure you have the necessary permissions to save the file to the selected location.

7. Mower Not Responding:

If the cropping tool or Preview app becomes unresponsive, try quitting and relaunching Preview. If the problem persists, restart your Mac to resolve any temporary software glitches.

8. Quality Loss in JPEG:

When exporting in JPEG format, if you notice significant quality loss, increase the "Quality" slider during the export process to maintain better image fidelity.

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If you encounter persistent problems or other unexpected behavior when cropping screenshots, consider updating your macOS and the Preview app to the latest version, as new updates often include bug fixes and improvements. Additionally, you can search online forums or Apple Support for troubleshooting solutions specific to your macOS version and system configuration.

Third-Party Cropping Tools

Other Third-Party Cropping Tools

While the Preview app on the Mac provides basic cropping and editing capabilities, there are a number of third-party applications available that provide more advanced and specialized features for cropping and editing screenshots. Here are some popular third-party cropping tools that you may want to consider:

1. Snagit: Snagit is a powerful screenshot and screen recording software for macOS. It offers extensive cropping and editing options including annotations, arrows, effects and more. Snagit also integrates with cloud services for easy sharing and collaboration.
2. Skitch: Skitch is a simple and intuitive screenshot tool developed by Evernote. It allows you to crop, annotate and share screenshots instantly. This is especially useful for adding annotations and text to your cropped images.
3. GIMP: GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a free and open-source image editing software that provides advanced cropping and editing capabilities. It offers features similar to professional image editing tools, making it suitable for more complex editing tasks.
4. Adobe Photoshop: Adobe Photoshop is a well-known industry-standard image editing software that offers robust cropping and editing tools. It offers precise control over cropping, layering, and various advanced editing options.
5. Lightroom: Adobe Lightroom is a popular image editing software used by photographers and designers. It offers non-destructive cropping and extensive image enhancement features, making it suitable for professional-level editing.
6. Pixelmator: Pixelmator is a user-friendly image editing application with a wide range of tools including advanced cropping features. It is designed for both beginners and experienced users looking for powerful editing capabilities.
7. Acorn: Acorn is a lightweight yet powerful image editor that provides efficient cropping and image manipulation tools. It is known for its speed and simplicity.
8. Snip & Sketch (Windows): If you use Windows other than macOS, Snip & Sketch is a built-in screen capture and annotation tool that provides basic cropping features.

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Before choosing third-party cropping equipment, consider your specific needs, budget, and level of expertise. Many of these tools offer free trials, so you can test their features and decide which one best suits your needs for cropping screenshots on your Mac.


Finally, mastering the art of cropping screenshots on your Mac using the Preview app opens up a world of possibilities for efficient image editing. With its built-in tools and keyboard shortcuts, cropping becomes quick and simple, allowing you to focus on the most relevant parts of your screenshots.

In addition, advanced features and discovery of third-party cropping tools provide even more options for enhancing and customizing your cropped images. Whether you are a casual user or a professional, these skills empower you to create engaging and purposeful screenshots for various projects and share them with others.

So, take advantage of the tools and techniques presented here, and let your creativity shine through in each cropped screenshot you create. Happy harvest!

"A Step-by-Step Guide: How to Crop a Screenshot on Mac"