How to Change the Default Screenshot File Format (PNG) to JPG, TIFF, GIF, BMP, or PDF in macOS

You can easily take screenshots on a Mac. In fact, I take a lot of screenshots. There are several ways. The easiest way is using the built-in shortcut key combinations to capture your screen: Shift-Command-3 (the whole screen), or Shift-Command-4 (a portion of the screen). When you take a screenshot, the default file format is .PNG. You can, however, change this if you want to save your screenshots in another file format such as JPG, TIFF, GIF, BMP, or PDF.

In this article, I explain how you can change the default format for your Mac screenshots. This can be done using Terminal on your Mac.

The screenshots will be saved to your Desktop, but you can change where your screenshots are saved.

Change screenshot file type:

1. Open the Terminal app (Applications / Utilities). You can also use Spotlight to open it.


2. And enter one of the following commands, depending on the file type you want, to change the screenshot format to JPG, TIFF, GIF, PDF, or PNG, and hit enter:

  • We will use this format: defaults write type ; killall SystemUIServer
  • killall SystemUIServer: This command will reset the screen capture process.

For JPG:

defaults write type jpg ; killall SystemUIServer

For GIF:

defaults write type gif ; killall SystemUIServer


defaults write type tiff ; killall SystemUIServer

For PDF:

defaults write type pdf ; killall SystemUIServer


defaults write type bmp ; killall SystemUIServer

Revert Back to the Original, PNG:

defaults write type png ; killall SystemUIServer

For example, let’s use JPG below:

Change file type

Now, let’s take a screenshot, right-click the image and click Get Info. You will see that it was saved as a JPG file (under the General section):

Change screenshot format

See also:

Dr. Serhat Kurt worked as a Senior Technology Director. He holds a doctoral degree (or doctorate) from the University of Illinois at Urbana / Champaign and a master’s degree from Purdue University. Here is his LinkedIn profile.

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