How to change Screen Capture File Format on Mac OS

By default the screenshot you capture on Mac is in .png file format. The .png file format supports lossless data compression which means that the screenshot size is on the higher side, well thats not bad for some but for those who are uploading them to web would not prefer it. The good news is that you can change the default file format to any other file format of your choice like gif, jpg or even pdf. In this guide, I will share how you can change the default file format of screen captured on Mac.

Changing screenshot file format

To change the default file format, you need to use the Terminal (also referred as command line) on Mac. To open terminal go to Applications ❯ Utilities ❯ Open Terminal.
change screenshot extension terminal
To demonstrate I’m changing the default file format to jpg. To change from .png to .jpg type the following command in terminal and hit enter.

defaults write type jpg;killall SystemUIServer

Now verify the change by taking a screenshot, press Command + Shift + 3 and that will take the screenshot of full screen and save it to the desktop in a .jpg file format.

Similarly to change in other file formats, type the following commands in terminal.

Change to .gif

defaults write type gif;killall SystemUIServer

Change to .pdf

defaults write type pdf;killall SystemUIServer

You can switch between these file formats any number of times as per your requirement.

Reverting the changes

If at some point you choose to go back to .png file format then type the following command in terminal:

defaults write type png;killall SystemUIServer