How To Change The Image File Format Of Your Mac Screenshots

Posted in How To, Mac, macOS on 10/04/2017 by Chris Hauk


If you’ve used the usual “Command + Shift + 3” and “Command + Shift + 4” keyboard shortcut combos to capture screenshots, you may have noticed any captures you create using this method are saved in the .PNG format.

While there isn’t anything in particular wrong with the .PNG format, your project might occasionally need a different graphics format. Fortunately it’s easy to change the default file format of screenshots. Here’s how.

How To Change The Image File Format Of Your Mac Screenshots

You can change the format of your Mac screenshots to any of the following: BMP, GIF, JPG, PDF, PICT, TGA, TIF. Just follow these steps to do so.

  1. Launch the Terminal app. It can be found in the Applications/Utilities folder. Or you can start it up by hitting the “Command + Space Bar” keyboard shortcut to start Spotlight, and typing “Terminal” in the Spotlight search bar.
  2. When the Terminal window appears, you’ll see a prompt as shown below.
  3. Type the following, and hit Return: “defaults write type JPG” (with out the quotes). Notice how the line you enter ends in “JPG”? That will cause screenshots to be saved in the .JPG format. If you wanted to save them as ad PDF file, you’d replace “JPG” with “PDF”.
  4. Then type the following and press return: “killall SystemUIServer“.

If you ever need to return to the default .PNG format for your screenshots, simply follow the steps above, and put PNG at the end of the line you enter in step 3.

For more tips and tricks on how to make better use of your Mac, iOS device, Apple Watch, or Apple TV, be sure to visit the “How To” section of our website.


Chris Hauk

MacTrast Senior Editor, and self-described "magnificent bastard," Chris Hauk owns Phoenix Rising Services and writes for everyone's favorite "bad movie" website, Big Bad Drive-In.

His first Apple product was an iPod Classic 9 years ago, and he has since added a MacBook Pro, a number of iPads, iPhones, and multiple Apple TVs to his collection.

He lives somewhere in the deep Southern part of America. Yes, he has to pump in both sunshine and the Internet.