If you take screenshots on a regular basis, moving your hand off your trackpad and then pressing the Command+Shift+4 shortcut is unnecessary, that is if you make use of one or more Mac automation programs to press the shortcut and initiate the shot for you.
Be honest, how often do you have to look down at your keyboard to locate the shortcut for taking screenshot? I know I still have to, and that's why I prefer using either BetterTouchTool, Dragon Dictate, or even Keyboard Maestro to trigger a shortcut.
In this article, I explain three ways to trigger screenshots without using pressing a keyboard shortcut.
When we take screenshots, we know it's always done with our hand on our trackpad or mouse. Thus, with the multitouch application, BetterTouchTool (BTT), you can trigger the keyboard shortcut using an assigned finger gesture.
For me, I simply perform a 2 Finger Click to trigger the shortcut. It's hassle-free multitouch gesture and reduces the need to look down at my keyboard to locate the key combination.
To set up this workflow, you simply select a Global finger gesture and add the custom shortcut.
You can also assign individual finger gestures to other types screenshot configurations, such as one for capturing your entire screen. The default Mac shortcuts can of course be mapped to BTT finger gestures.
BTT Screenshot Options
For most Mac users, saving a shot as an image is enough, but BetterTouchTool goes several steps further. In its most recent major update, BTT now offers several options of taking screen captures.
Inside its Predefined Actions, under the OS X Functionality section, there's a screen capture editor for configuring what format and file name of shots you want to take, where you want to save shots, and what you to want to happen after taking a screenshot.
BTT includes several options that you can check out for yourself, but one of the reasons you might choose to use the BTT screen capture feature is that it means you can set or change the settings for type of shots you want to take, such as if you're working on a project and you want all your shots saved a custom file name to a selected folder.
BetterTouchTool is available for the sweet price of between $6-$10. Seriously it's worth a lot more.
While writing this section of my article, I changed the file name settings to “BTT screenshot,” followed by the date. With this custom setting, I don't have to stop and rename screenshots when they are saved to my desktop.
If you frequently need to change settings, you can assign a unique finger gesture to show the above screenshot window options. I now us my 2 Finger Click to trigger a regular screenshot, and my multitouch 2 Finger Click+Command key triggers the Show Screenshot Tool Window so that I can set and take a custom shot, such as a time delayed main monitor shot.
There are two screen capture actions in BTT. The one named Capture Screenshot (Configurable) takes the shots according to the settings you add. You can use one or more versions of action with different settings and assign each version to a different finger gesture.
If you assign a finger gesture to the Show Screenshot Tool Window action, it will open each time so that you can change the settings, and then click the “Capture Screenshot Now” button to take the shot.
Note, you can double-click on the Screen Selection Capture action in BTT to make changes to the settings if you need to. Notice also that the BTT capture can assign the current date and a random code to each shot to make them unique. If the date is too much, then just remove it.
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Dragon Dictate Screenshots
In addition to using a finger gesture to take screenshots, I also activate shots using a voice command. That's right, when my hand is on the trackpad, often times I simply want to capture a shot and not have to perform a Two Finger Click. Instead, I simply say “Screenshot,” and Dragon Dictate triggers the assigned shortcut.
And now since I use the BTT screenshot configuration instead of Apple's default capture, I have mapped a BTT keyboard shortcut to my Dragon Dictate voice command.
I have another voice command, “capture screen” that takes a whole screen shot without me having to lift a finger.
Dragon Dictate may be buggy when it comes to voice to text dictation, but it works super great for triggering hundreds of Mac actions.
Keyboard Maestro Screenshots
The granddaddy of all Mac automation programs, Keyboard Maestro, also has screen capture actions. Its actions are not as powerful as the BTT feature, but it has particular purposes especially for advance users.
You can set up KM macros for different types of screenshots, including area shots, and, for example, take a shot of the front window of any application. (By the way, BTT has similar features for taking window shots.) There are several different choices, but honestly I haven't had an occasion to use any of them.
However, what makes the KM screenshot features unique is that they can be triggered not only by an assigned keyboard shortcut, but also be triggered after you log into your Mac or when it's awakened. So for example, you can have KM take a shot ten seconds after your Mac is awakened, and then have that shot saved to the system clipboard, a KM named clipboard, or a specified folder.
You could even create a macro to trigger a configured BTT screenshot. Instead of assigning the BTT screenshot action a finger gesture, you assign it a keyboard shortcut and then have that shortcut triggered with a KM trigger.
Which Do Your Prefer?
I hope you can see how these alternative ways to take screen shots reduce a few steps and provide more customization for screen captures.
Let me know which method of triggering screenshots you prefer and/or what other solutions you have for taking screenshots.