screencapture - macOS


The macOS command screencapture is a powerful tool for capturing screenshots and screen recordings on your Mac. It provides extensive options and customization, making it suitable for various use cases.


screencapture [options]



  • -i: Captures a specific window by selecting it.


  • -x: Captures the entire screen.
  • -w: Captures a specific window without selecting it.
  • -s: Captures a portion of the screen.
  • -t [type]: Specifies the capture type: jpg, png, bmp, pdf, tif (default: png).
  • -o [path]: Saves the capture to a specified path (default: Desktop).
  • -R: Includes the mouse pointer in the capture.
  • -c: Displays a camera cursor while capturing.
  • -e: Saves the capture to the clipboard instead of a file.
  • -d [secs]: Delays the capture by the specified number of seconds.
  • -T [secs]: Sets a timer for the capture (default: 10 seconds).
  • -P: Captures a screen recording.
  • -F [fps]: Sets the frame rate for screen recording (default: 15).
  • -a [codec]: Sets the audio codec for screen recording (caf or aac default: aac).
  • -v: Captures a video screen recording.
  • -C: Captures a still image from a live video stream.
  • -h: Displays the help message.


Capture entire screen:

screencapture -x

Capture a specific window:

screencapture -i

Capture a portion of the screen and save as PDF:

screencapture -s -t pdf -o ~/Desktop/screenshot.pdf

Capture a screen recording with audio:

screencapture -P -a aac

Capture a still image from a video stream:

screencapture -C

Common Issues

  • Permission Denied: Ensure you have sufficient permissions to access the screen.
  • Window Not Captured: If a window is not captured using -i, refresh the screen by resizing or dragging the window.
  • Blank Video Recording: Ensure the screen resolution is set correctly and that your Mac supports screen recording.


  • Use screencapture with sips to edit screenshots.
  • Combine screencapture with ffmpeg to convert screen recordings to different formats.
  • Utilize Automator to create automated workflows involving screencapture.
  • Image Capture (Graphical interface for capturing images from devices)
  • Preview (Editing and annotating screenshots)
  • ffmpeg (Advanced video conversion and editing tool)
  • sips (SImple Image Processing System for image manipulation)