How to Take Screenshots of Sheets in Mountain Lion

Back in June I wrote my ‘Some more Screenshot Tips and Tricks’ blog. These handy tips are very useful to me as writing training courses involves taking many screenshots of a Mac screen for demonstration purposes.

Recently though, purely by chance, I stumbled across an extra screen shot feature that I never knew existed, which is now priceless to me in creating my training course material.

The feature in question is the ability to take screenshots of the ‘sheets’ within an OS X window after performing a ‘Selection Screenshot’ (⌘+Shift+4).

A ‘sheet’ is any of those dialog boxes that drops down from a pull-down window within OS X or appears after selecting a button, but at all times is part of the window and doesn’t ‘float’ on its own.

A couple of examples of ‘sheets’ are shown below :


mountain lion screenshots tips


Here, in Users & Groups Preferences, after selecting to change the user account password, a ‘sheet’ appears requesting details be entered.


user group preferences mountain lion

In this example above from Security & Privacy Preferences, after selecting to Set a Lock Message, a ‘sheet’ appears requesting the details are entered.

For years now, I have been performing a ‘Selection Screenshot’ (⌘+Shift+4) and selecting just the ‘sheet’ area to screenshot it. Because performing a ‘Precise Screenshot’ (⌘+Shift+4+Space) will select the entire window the sheet is a part of.

So, what did I find by mistake? Well, if you perform a ‘Precise Screenshot’ (⌘+Shift+4+Space) which presents the ‘camera’ icon as your cursor. Then once you position the camera icon over the sheet you wish to screenshot, you can then press the command key (⌘) to just select the sheet and not the entire window behind it!

user groups screenshots


screenshot tricks mountain lion

You can see in the 2 examples above that this little trick has only selected the sheet in red and ignored the window behind the sheet which it is attached to. A ‘Precise Screenshot’ (⌘+Shift+4+Space) will have included this entire window and not just the sheet.

I hope this helps some people and that I wasn’t the only person who didn’t know about this feature! 🙂

This feature has been tested using OS X v10.8.2 which was the latest Mac OS release at the time of writing and also using the latest Internal and external Apple keyboards.

4 Replies to "How to Take Screenshots of Sheets in Mountain Lion"

  • Nangka

    cmd-opt-shift-4 gives you selection screen shot but while there, ie. the crosshairs cursor, you can toggle between it & the “window” screenshot (not “precise-screenshot”) mode by then hitting “space bar”. the cursor changes to a camera while in window screenshot mode and you can mouse over any open window to capture the “windowshot” with the mouse click.

    the window you want to capture does not even have to be the active one to work. try this, open multiple windows in any app, do the cmd-opt-shift-4 and then “space”, mouse the camera over a partitially covered window and click the mouse button. voila, you have the full window picture captured even though it’s not fully displayed nor active one.

    that’s the power of mac os x core ui components at work. it’s a great way to get users to email system or app error messages to it tech support.


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