MacOS: How To Take Screenshots And Save Them To Different Default Directory Than Your Desktop

One of the daily battles I have working across clients and sites is that my MacOS desktop tends to get cluttered with files. I like using my desktop as a working directory, but I store temporary files in my downloads folder.

As I often work on articles for Martech Zone or document client issues, I tend to take many screenshots. My desktop is cluttered after a couple of weeks, and I need to remove the screenshots constantly. After researching, I figured out how to change the default directory where screenshots are saved!

How to Take Screenshots on MacOS

MacOS has several keyboard shortcuts for taking screenshots, each serving a different purpose. Here’s a list of the common shortcuts:

By default, screenshots are saved to your desktop. The filename will start with Screen Shot followed by the date and time the screenshot was taken.

How To Save Screenshots To A Different Folder

There’s no setting within MacOS to select a different default folder to save your screenshots, but it is possible via Terminal. In my case, I want my screenshots automatically stored in my downloads folder. You can change the default location by taking the following steps:

  1. Open Terminal: You can find Terminal in your Applications under Utilities or search for it using Spotlight.
  2. Enter the Command: Once Terminal is open, type the following command, but don’t press Enter yet:
defaults write com.apple.screencapture location
  1. Specify the Downloads Folder: Drag your Downloads folder into the Terminal window. This will automatically enter the path of your Downloads folder into the Terminal command.
  2. Complete the Command: Press Enter to execute the command. Your command should now look something like this (though your username will be different):
defaults write com.apple.screencapture location /Users/username/Downloads
  1. Apply the Changes: Restart the System User Interface service on your Mac to take effect. Enter the following command in Terminal and press Enter:
   killall SystemUIServer

After completing these steps, your screenshots should automatically be saved to your Downloads folder. Remember that this change will persist until you change the screenshot save location again using the same method.

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