This post is a response to comment I received about the new screen capture naming conventions in Snow Leopard.
In a recent post, a commenter wondered if there was any way to get screen shot filenames back to how they were in Leopard. After a lot of searching and digging through system folders to find the answer, I discovered a lot of stuff about screen captures.
First it should be known that the correct term (at least in the Mac world) is screen capture. When you take one, SystemUIServer, a background process that controls several aspects of the Mac OS X user interface runs a program located at
/usr/sbin/screencapture which has several different options for taking pictures of your screen. For instance, it can take window shots with or without shadow or open the taken picture in Preview. The full list of options can be found on its man page in the Mac OS X Reference Library.
When SystemUIServer triggers a screen capture, it uses a default set of options. Shadows are turned on, the picture is saved to the Desktop in PNG format, etc. Some of these options can be changed by rewriting to
screencapture‘s default preferences in
To modify the default preferences for screencapture, paste the following commands in the Terminal.
After setting each property, you must logout or restart SystemUIServer for the changes to take effect. You can do this by entering the following command in Terminal and pressing Enter.
Disable/Enable window shadow
Window shadows are enabled by default. You can control this setting with the following property. This only applies when taking single-windows screen captures.
defaults write com.apple.screencapture disable-shadow -bool true
defaults write com.apple.screencapture disable-shadow -bool false
Change file format
defaults write com.apple.screencapture type <format>
Availible formats are :
- png (default)
- jp2 (JPG2000)
- tif (TIFF)
Change capture folder
The default location is ~/Desktop however, you may change it to any path.
defaults write com.apple.screencapture location <path>
Change the filename
This is where it gets tricky. You may change the name of the file with the property :
defaults write com.apple.screencapture name <string>
However, this only changes the first part of the filename. For example, changing the name to “Picture” will save screen captures as “Picture 2009-09-23 at 2.13.30 PM”. There seems to be no built-in way to revert back to the old screenshot filename although, anything can be achieved with Automator.
I’ve created a Automator folder action that will monitor the Desktop for screen capture files and rename them back to the old format. You can of course modify this to your own liking.
Installing the folder action
- Download RenameScreenCaptures.zip and unzip the file
- Place “Rename Screen Capture.workflow” in ~/Library/Workflows/Applications/Folder Actions/
- Right-click on your Desktop folder in your Home directory and select Folder Actions Setup form the Services menu
- When prompted to Chose a Script to Attach popup, select Rename Screen Capture.workflow
Now when you take a screen capture, Folder Actions will kick in and renames the file sequentially.