The Mac clipboard is a valuable time-saver, enabling you to copy text, URLs, and images and paste them directly into various apps and programs.

How does that differ from your regular copy-paste functionality? You don't have to save files in one location before copying them to another. That also applies to screenshots. You can send a Mac screenshot to the clipboard while taking it.

Let's see how to copy a screenshot to the clipboard on a Mac before exploring your options for capturing, finding, and editing screenshots.

Table of Content
    1. Copy a Full-Screen Capture to the Clipboard
    2. Copy a Custom Screen Capture to the Clipboard
    3. Copy a Window or Menu Capture to the Clipboard
    1. Mac Screenshot History
    2. Mac Clipboard History

How To Copy Screenshots to the Clipboard Using Keyboard Shortcuts on a Mac

macOS versions since Mojave have the Screenshot toolbar with customizable keyboard shortcuts to take screenshots on Mac. Here are the default shortcuts for copying screen captures of your Mac to the clipboard.

Copy a Full-Screen Capture to the Clipboard

Follow these steps to take a full-screen capture and copy it to the clipboard:

  1. Simultaneously press the Control + Shift + Command + 3.
    copy full-screen captures to the clipboard
  2. Paste the copied Mac screenshot to a file or app using the Command + V shortcut.
    paste mac screenshots

Here's an example of pasting a screenshot into a messaging app.

paste mac screenshots into an app

Copy a Custom Screen Capture to the Clipboard

Here's how to capture a portion of the screen and copy it to the clipboard:

  1. Simultaneously press the Shift + Command + 4 keys.
    capture a portion of the screen
  2. Hold the Control key while selecting the desired area to take the screenshot to the clipboard on your Mac. You can then paste it anywhere with Command + V.
    copy custom screenshots to the clipboard

Copy a Window or Menu Capture to the Clipboard

Capturing browser or app windows and menus and copying the screenshots to the clipboard goes as follows:

  1. Press Shift + Command + 4 + Spacebar.
    capture a window or menu
  2. Click the desired menu or window while holding the Control key to copy the screenshot to the clipboard. You can paste it into documents, apps, or programs with Command + V.
    copy window screenshots to the clipboard

How To Copy Screenshots to the Clipboard on a Mac Using the Touch Bar

If your MacBook has the Touch Bar, you can use that helpful feature to take screenshots and save them directly on the clipboard. You only need to customize it to display the Screenshot button, enabling your MacBook to print a screen and save it to the clipboard.

Here's how to copy a screenshot to the clipboard on a Mac using the Touch Bar:

  1. Go to the Apple menu > System Settings (macOS Ventura or newer) or System Preferences (macOS Monterey or older) > Keyboard. Enable the Control Strip, choose what else to show in the Touch Bar, and click Customize Touch Bar.
    keyboard settings for the touch bar
  2. Drag the Screenshot button to the Touch Bar and click Done.
    add a screenshot button to the touch bar
  3. Prepare the content to capture and tap the Screenshot button on the Touch Bar.
    take a screenshot with the touch bar
  4. The Screenshot toolbar will launch, enabling you to copy a Mac screenshot directly to the clipboard. It lets you capture the entire screen, a selected portion, or a window or menu, so click the desired button.
    choose a screen area
  5. Click Options > Clipboard to save your Mac screenshot to the clipboard directly, and hit Capture.
    save a mac screenshot to the clipboard

How To View Screenshot History and Clipboard History on a Mac

You can find your Mac screenshots in the Finder, Spotlight, the Recents folder, or the Recent Items list. On the other hand, the Finder is the only place revealing your clipboard history. Here's how to see all your screenshots.

Mac Screenshot History

Your Mac doesn't keep a screenshot history in one place. However, you can find your captures by following these steps:

  1. Click the Apple menu > Recent Items and find your screenshots under Documents.
    mac screenshots in recent items
  2. Go to Finder > Recents and find the latest screenshots under Images.
    mac screenshots in the recents folder
  3. Type the "kMDItemIsScreenCapture:1" flag in the Finder's search box and select This Mac to list all your screenshots.
    screenshot search in the finder
  4. Use the same flag in Spotlight to find all screenshots.
    screenshot search in spotlight

Mac Clipboard History

Unfortunately, your Mac's clipboard doesn't keep a lengthy history. Its short-term memory can only hold one copied item, whether a Image name, text, or image. Therefore, if you copy multiple screenshots one after the other, the clipboard will save only the last one.

However, you can keep a screenshot history with a third-party clipboard manager. Hopefully, Apple will introduce a similar solution. In the meantime, here's how to view your last copied screenshot on the clipboard:

  1. Open the Finder and go to Edit > Show Clipboard.
    show the clipboard in the finder
  2. A window will pop up, displaying the last item you added with the Mac print screen to the clipboard.
    a mac screenshot on the clipboard

How To Edit Screenshots After Copying Them to the Clipboard

Once you copy screenshots on a Mac to the clipboard, you can open them in the Preview app directly from the clipboard. Here's how to edit them:

  1. Launch the Preview app and go to File > New From Clipboard.
    open a new file from the clipboard
  2. The Preview app will instantly open your copied screenshot. Go to Tools to resize, rotate, flip, crop, or annotate it. You can adjust the colors and add magnification bubbles to highlight specific elements.
    edit a mac screenshot in preview
  3. Click the Markup Tools icon to show more editing options.
    show markup tools in preview
  4. Add text, shapes, drawings, or signatures and change their style and color.
    edit a screenshot with markup tools
  5. Once you finish editing, click File > Save As and choose a location for your screenshot.
    save the edited screenshot in preview


Copying macOS screenshots to the clipboard is a walk in the park once you get the hang of the keyboard shortcuts. The more you use them, the faster they'll become second nature. Of course, you can replace them with more convenient keys in settings.

However, online tools like Wondershare DemoAir are your go-to solution when you need a webpage screenshot in a single click. Try it to see how time-saving its capturing features are, including its recording functionalities.


  • Can I save a screenshot directly to the clipboard on a Mac?
    The Screenshot toolbar settings let you save Mac screenshots to the clipboard directly. Open the Screenshot toolbar with the Shift + Command + 5 shortcut and click Options > Clipboard. All your captures will automatically go to the clipboard.
  • What are the shortcuts for taking screenshots on a Mac?
    The Shift + Command + 3 shortcut captures the entire screen, the Shift + Command + 4 lets you select an area, and the Shift + Command + 4 + Spacebar allows you to take a window or menu screenshot.
  • Can I take a screenshot and copy it to the clipboard on a Mac?
    Yes, you can take a screenshot and copy it to the Mac clipboard by adding the Control key to the default keyboard shortcuts. Full-screen captures require pressing it simultaneously with Shift + Command + 3. As for other screenshots, hit Control when selecting an area, window, or menu.
  • Where is the clipboard on a Mac?
    You can open your Mac clipboard by clicking Edit > Show Clipboard in the Finder. You'll see the last item you've copied to the clipboard.
Oliva Eve
Oliva Eve Jun 12, 24
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