Thanks to a little-known shortcut, you can easily capture a clean screenshot of your Mac’s Dock without wallpaper, including translucency in the PNG alpha channel, with no cropping necessary. Here’s how to do it.

The Secret: a Simple Shortcut

Whenever you want to capture a screenshot of your Dock (and only your Dock), press Shift+Command+4, and then press the Space bar on your keyboard. This puts the screenshot tool into window and menu capture mode.

RELATED: How to Screenshot on a Mac

Press Command+Shift+4 on your Mac keyboard.

After you press Space, your mouse cursor will turn into a camera icon. Place the cursor over your Dock. When you see that the Dock is highlighted, click your primary mouse button.

Place the mouse cursor over the Dock and click.

When you click, you’ll hear the screenshot sound effect. A clean image of your Dock in PNG format will be saved to your preferred save location (the Desktop, by default).

RELATED: How to Change Where Screenshots Are Saved on Mac

Alternately, you can run the Screenshot app (or press Shift+Command+5), and then select the “Capture Selected Window” button (It looks like a small window icon.) in the screenshots toolbar that appears.

After you click, hover your mouse pointer over the Dock and click your primary mouse button to capture a screenshot of the Dock.

RELATED: How to Take a Mac Screenshot Without a Keyboard

What You Get

When you open the screenshot for closer viewing, you might notice that the PNG file includes a translucent alpha channel area for a shadow around the Dock and the Dock itself, depending on the OS you’re using.

An example of a Mac Dock image with translucent PNG alpha channel.

In macOS 10.15 Catalina or earlier, the Dock itself will be pure opaque white. But in macOS 11.0 or later, the Dock will look translucent when viewed in a photo editing application. Either way, you’ll see no trace of the desktop wallpaper behind it, which is very handy.

Now that you have the Dock screenshot file, you can edit it or share it any way that you’d normally share a photo. Have fun!

RELATED: RGB? CMYK? Alpha? What Are Image Channels and What Do They Mean?

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Benj Edwards is a former Associate Editor for How-To Geek. Now, he is an AI and Machine Learning Reporter for Ars Technica. For over 15 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
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