Screen Capture
Time 1.8 hrs

Difficulty Beginner
Prerequisites Desktop Basics
Departments Human Technologies
Authors Ross Parker
Groupings Individual
Minimum Year Group None


This unit covers a range of ways to capture your screen on a Mac or Chromebook, either as a still image or as a video. Screen capture is extremely useful for teaching others, explaining things and getting help on your computer.


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5 mins
Getting Started
  • This unit covers a range of ways to capture your screen on a Mac or Chromebook, either as a still image or as a video.
  • Screen capture is extremely useful for teaching others, explaining things and getting help on your computer.
15 mins


  • A screenshot is a specific kind of capture where we take a still image of our screen.
  • On a Mac, you can use the keyboard shortcut Command-Shift-3 to take a screenshot of your entire desktop region:

  • By default, you will hear a camera sound, and your new screenshot will be saved as a PNG on your desktop:

  • Alternatively, if you press Command-Shift-4 you will be offered crosshairs, which you can then use to drag out a portion of your screen that you want to capture.
    • This generally results in a smaller file that is easier to use without further editing.

  • Finally, if you press Command-Shift-4, then let go and press the Space bar, you will see a camera icon, which lets you highlight a whole window. This window will be saved, with an attractive drop shadow, when you click on it with your trackpad:

  • The result will looking something like this:

  • New as of OS X Mojave is the Command-Shift-5 function, which brings up a screenshot toolbar. This combines screenshots (images) and screen recording (videos), and also introduces lots of useful options such as choosing a save location for your screen captures - no more clogging your desktop with screenshots! It's all in one convenient place too.


  • Use Ctrl + []]] (change window button) to take a screenshot of the entire screen.

  • Ctrl + Shift + []]] will take a screenshot of a specific portion of your screen.
  • A notification will pop up in the bottom right of the screen telling you that you have taken a screenshot

  • You can click on this notification to show the screenshot in your Files

20 mins
Screen Recording


  • Sometimes we want to capture more than just a screenshot: we want video.
  • To obtain a such a screen recording, we can use QuickTime player, which is an app that is bundled with your Mac:

  • Launch QuickTime (in the same way you normally launch applications), and then select File > New Screen Recording in the main menu bar:

  • A screen recording dialogue will appear, in which you can click the white down arrow to select audio and mouse options:

    • If you select to use a microphone, you can see it is working as you will get white volume levels appearing in the recording window.
  • Once you are ready, press on the record button to begin:

  • You will be greeted by a popup option, allowing you to either click to record the whole screen, or grab a portion of the screen:

  • You will know you are recording when you see a white record icon appear in your icon tray (top right of the screen). Click on this icon to stop recording:

  • Your new video will open as a new window in QuickTime player: press Cmd-S to save it.
  • Once your video is saved, you can view, edit or share it as needed.


  • If you want to record your screen for a video, you can use an app called Screencastify, which should come installed on your Chromebook

  • When you open Screencastify, either by finding it in Google Assistant or by clicking on its icon in the top right of your Chrome browser, you will see a menu that looks like this

  • As you can see, you can record your browser tab, your entire desktop, or your webcam. You can also record audio with your microphone, or embed your webcam for a picture-in-picture video
  • Once you click Record and choose what you want to record, a notification will pop up in the bottom right of your screen. Click Stop in the notification to stop recording

  • Once your recording stops, a new browser window will open, and a menu on the right will let you decide what to do with your video. Your video will automatically upload to Google Drive, and you can also publish it to YouTube, or convert it to an MP4 or GIF file.

15 mins
Picture In Picture
Fancy Schmancy
  • If you are interested in producing a tutorial or review, it is possible to produce a picture in picture video, such as that shown below:


  • To set up picture in picture, using QuickTime, follow the instructions below:
    • Launch QuickTime
    • Select File > New Movie Recording.
    • Your built-in camera should start pushing images into a new window: drag and drop, and resize this window, to get it to the right size and position.
    • Go back to File, but now choose New Screen Recording, and complete the procedure above for a regular screen recording.


  • Screencastify also has a picture-in-picture option, as mentioned in the previous block.
    • Click on "Embed Webcam" in the Screencastify menu to enable this
    • Don't forget to turn on your microphone too!

5 mins
Other Apps
Not Free
  • As well as these free tools, it is possible to use paid tools, such as ScreenFlow and Lightshot, if you need advanced features and in built editing.
30 mins
Finishing Up
  • As evidence of your learning, create a picture-in-picture screen recording of your face and your desktop, and record yourself taking screenshots using the methods described above (entire desktop, portion of screen, entire window, depending on your machine), while discussing what you are doing.
  • Save your recording and load it into iMovie or WeVideo: add a title and transitions.
  • Export your video, and upload it to this unit as evidence of your learning.
15 mins
  • Should you wish to use a screen recording for a more formal purposes, you can edit it, to add a title slide and transitions, as shown in the videos below.



  • If you were dealing with a screenshot, you might want to open it in an image app such as Preview (Mac's default image app, shown below) or Acorn, in order to annotate it before using it:

    • To open an image in Preview, simply double-click on it.
    • To access the editing bar to add arrows, drawings, etc, go to View > Show Markup Toolbar in the main menu.

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Shared on 02/11/2020
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