Where are Screenshots and Photos Stored on Mac

By | April 7, 2022

You have many reasons to take a screenshot of your Mac desktop. Demonstrating a bug, showing friends and relatives how to use the software, or remembering a particular workflow are some possible motivations. Even though your workflow may change, the method remains the same.

Whatever the reason you take it, managing screenshots can be difficult. Where are screenshots stored on a Mac computer? Can you change that setting? And what about video capture? That’s what we answer here.

How to Take Screenshots and Take Videos on Mac

If you’re not used to taking screenshots on a Mac, it’s easy.

To capture the entire screen, press Cmd + Shift + 3. If you want to capture only a part of the screen, press Cmd + Shift + 4. Then you can drag your mouse cursor to capture the specified area. For more info, we have a guide on how to take a screenshot on your Mac.

If you have a MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar, this is the case where it actually comes in handy. Press Cmd + Shift + 4, then the Touch Bar will give you several options. You can capture an area of ​​the screen, a single window, or your entire screen, just by pressing a different button on the Touch Bar.

Capturing videos is also easy. Press Cmd + Shift + 5, and you’ll see a list of options very similar to the TouchPad options above. For videos, the two icons you need to know are the two far right. The button furthest to the right will record a portion of your screen, while the button on the left records the entire screen.

You can also use the built-in QuickTime app to record your screen.

Where Are Screenshots Saved on Mac

It doesn’t matter how you take a screenshot using the built-in macOS options, it saves it in the same place. By default, Mac screenshots are saved to the desktop. You may find this too messy, but luckily, you can change this location.

Changing the location of a Mac screenshot used to be difficult, but on macOS Mojave, it’s relatively easy. Press Cmd + Shift + 5, then click the Options menu on the far right. At the top of this menu, you will see an option where to save the screenshot.

By default, Desktop is checked. However, a different folder, Preview app, Mail, Messages, or even the Clipboard are some other options.

You can also change it to any directory of your choosing with Other Locations at the bottom of this menu settings. In the pop-up dialog, simply select the folder you want your new Mac screenshot to be located in.

Where is Video Capture Stored on Mac

Video captures done using Cmd + Shift + 5 save to the desktop by default as well. You can change this using the same method as above.

Unfortunately, you can only choose one default save location. You cannot select one directory for screenshots and another for capturing videos.

Where are photos stored on Mac

Photos are a completely different story. Unless you’ve tweaked your settings so that they work otherwise, the macOS Photos app takes care of this for you, storing photos in its own library. Accessing this is easy, once you know where to look.

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By default, your photo library is stored in your home directory, inside the Pictures folder. Accessing it is a bit odd. Inside the Pictures folder, you will see an icon called Photo Library. To access your photos, right-click on this and select Show Package Contents, then open the Masters folder.

This is where your photos are stored. They are organized by year, month, and day. Inside this folder, you will find your photos as JPG or HEIC files.

You can change where the photo library is stored, but not how the photos are stored. To change the location of your photo library, first make sure to exit the Photos app. Then hold down the Option key while you launch the Photos app.

A screen will appear asking if you want to select an existing Photos library or open a new one. Here you can create a new Library and change it to your desired location. To move your existing library, move it in the Finder and then open it using this method.

Managing Screenshots and Captures: Simple Way

If you’re bothered by the clutter caused by dozens of screenshots and video captures on your desktop, there’s a simple way to organize it. This only works if you’re running macOS Mojave or later, thanks to a feature called Stacks.

To get started, right-click on your desktop and click Use Stacks to enable the feature. This feature simply groups files together by various criteria. You can organize by date or by tag, but in this case, you’ll want to select Stack Group By > Type. This will group your screenshots in one stack and your video captures in another.

It only works on the desktop, so if you save your photos elsewhere, you’ll need other options.

Managing Screenshots and Captures: Better Way

If you don’t keep photos on your desktop or want more control, you’ll need to turn to third-party apps. You can use a photo manager like Adobe Lightroom, but that might be overkill for screenshots. Moreover, when it comes to screenshots, Mac users have a lot of options.

You might want to try an app like Capto. This app not only helps you organize and manage your screenshots and captures, but also handles capturing. This is useful if you’re not happy with the options on macOS. When it comes to organization, the app automatically organizes screenshots for you using customizable criteria.

Apart from capturing and organizing videos and images, Capto has built-in editing features. If you’re planning to screencast videos or just take a lot of screenshots, this app might be worth checking out.

Capto is not expensive. It costs $30 for a single license, or $75 for a family plan. If you’re a student or educator, you can get the app for a $20 discount. It’s also available through Setapp, which offers several Mac apps for a $10 monthly subscription.

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