How to Change the File format of a screenshot on Mac

Taking a screenshot on a Mac is a fairly simple task, you just press and hold Shift+cmd+3 or Shift+cmd+4 and voila your screenshots are saved on your desktop. By default, the macOS captures and saves your screenshots on the desktop as a PNG (Portable Network Graphics) image format. Although PNG preserves the image quality and provides lossless compression, the file size of these PNG images tends to be quite large and can take up a fair amount of space on your Mac. Other than PNG, Mac has the ability to capture screenshots in JPG, GIF, PDF and TIFF formats. In this article, we will show how to change screenshot file format on Mac using the terminal.

First, open the Terminal from either Launchpad or using Spotlight and simply type or paste the command from the list below in the terminal to change screenshot file format to your desired format.

NOTE: Just in case if you’re facing an issue and are unable to change the file format, use the prefix sudo with the commands.

To Change file format to JPG

Type or paste the following command in the terminal and press the return/enter

defaults write com.apple.screencapture type jpg;killall SystemUIServer

To Change file format to GIF

Type or paste the following command in the terminal and press the return/enter

defaults write com.apple.screencapture type gif;killall SystemUIServer

To Change file format to PDF

Type or paste the following command in the terminal and press the return/enter

defaults write com.apple.screencapture type pdf;killall SystemUIServer

To Change file format to TIFF

Type or paste the following command in the terminal and press the return/enter

defaults write com.apple.screencapture type tiff;killall SystemUIServer

To Change file format to PNG

Type or paste the following command in the terminal and press the return/enter

defaults write com.apple.screencapture type png;killall SystemUIServer

Here’s one comparison between a PNG and JPG file size screenshot file format

(PNG – 2.5 MB)

(JPEG – 455 KB)

For one screenshot it may not matter much, but if there are many screenshots, having a JPG file format will surely make a difference.