Mac image with a question mark on a blue background

If you take a screenshot on your Mac, where does macOS save the screenshot image files? We’ll help you find the screenshot location—and show you how to choose where they end up in the future.

Screenshots Are Usually Saved to the Desktop

By default, when you take a screenshot using Shift+Command+3, Shift+Command+4, or Shift+Command+5, your Mac saves any screenshots you take to your Desktop as PNG files. Each one will have the name “Screen Shot” with a date and time at the end (such as “Screen Shot 2022-06-03 at 10.58.12 AM”).

an image file as seen on a Mac desktop.

If your desktop is messy and full of icons, you might have trouble finding the screenshot. In that case, you can organize your desktop using options in the “View” menu at the top of the screen. For example, you can click View > Use Stacks, and macOS will automatically sort the files into appropriate stacks that expand when you click them.

To view a screenshot, double-click its icon and it will open in Preview or another image app. If you don’t see the screenshot on your desktop, then it’s possible that macOS has been configured to save the screenshots somewhere else. To find out where, view the section below.

RELATED: How to Screenshot on a Mac

How to See Where Mac Screenshots are Saved

If your screenshots aren’t showing up on your desktop, press Shift+Command+5. In the screenshots toolbar that appears, click “Options.” Under the “Save To” section in the menu, you’ll see a checkmark beside the location where screenshots are currently saved (such as “Desktop,” “Documents,” or “Preview.”). If anything other than “Desktop” is checked, you can look in that location for your screenshots.

You can use this same menu to choose a different save location for your future screenshots. If you’re no longer in the screenshot menu, press Shift+Command+5, click “Options,” then choose a “Save To” location from the list. To select a custom folder, choose “Other Location.” The next time you take a screenshot, you’ll find the screenshot file located there.

RELATED: How to Change Where Screenshots Are Saved on Mac

How to Find Lost Screenshots on Mac

If you still can’t find your screenshots, press Command+Space on your keyboard to open Spotlight search. Type “screenshot” in the search bar, and you’ll see a list of matching screenshot files in the results below.

Searching for images in Mac Spotlight search.

Double click a screenshot image in the results to open it, or hold down the Command key and click the file in the list to open its location in Finder. Good luck, and happy snapping!

RELATED: How to Open Mac Spotlight Results in Finder

Profile Photo for Benj Edwards Benj Edwards
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.
Read Full Bio »