How to Disable Screenshot Thumbnail Previews on a Mac


If you’re someone who tends to take multiple screenshots in quick succession, you may want to turn off floating thumbnails.

When you capture a screenshot on your Mac, macOS displays a tiny thumbnail of the screenshot in the bottom-right corner of the screen. This thumbnail stays on the screen for a few seconds before being saved to the default destination.

As you can imagine, this thumbnail preview induces a delay. As a result, if you have to take multiple screenshots back-to-back, you need to wait for the preview thumbnails to disappear to prevent them from appearing in subsequent screenshots.

But why exactly does macOS show a screenshot thumbnail? And how can you disable it on your Mac? Let’s find out.

Why Does macOS Display a Screenshot Thumbnail Preview?

Apple introduced screenshot previews alongside macOS Mojave as a convenience feature to help you quickly get to editing, signing, and sharing your screenshot as soon as you capture it.

With this feature, all you have to do is click on the thumbnail to open a preview where you can access the Markup tools on your Mac. You can also share the image from here directly using AirDrop or any other app/service.

However, as we mentioned earlier, this thumbnail preview can sometimes feel obtrusive and may slow you down when you want to take screenshots in succession. Thankfully, it’s possible to disable it, and it only takes a moment to do so.

Disabling Screenshot Previews on Your Mac

Apple lets you disable floating screenshot previews on Mac in two ways. You can either do it from the Screenshot app’s settings or the Terminal app.

1. Using the Screenshot App

The Screenshot app is the default tool for taking screenshots on Mac. It offers various screenshot options and is also customizable. Here’s how to disable screenshot previews in Screenshot:

  1. Launch the Screenshot app on your Mac. You can either do this from Spotlight Search or by pressing Command + Shift + 5 on your keyboard.
    Screenshot app for Mac

  2. In the toolbar that appears, click on Options and uncheck Show Floating Thumbnail.
    disabling the Show Floating Thumbnail option

  3. Hit the X button or press the Esc key to close the Screenshot toolbar.

At any point in the future, if you wish to re-enable the thumbnail preview, you can repeat the steps and check the Show Floating Thumbnail option.

2. Using the Terminal App

Apple also lets you disable screenshot previews with a Terminal command line. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Launch the Terminal app on your Mac.
  2. Type the following command and hit the Return key:
     defaults write show-thumbnail -bool false 
  3. Close the Terminal app.

macOS should no longer display the floating thumbnail when you take a screenshot. For some reason, if you still see the thumbnail after running this command, restart your Mac once.

When you want to re-enable floating preview, enter the following command in Terminal, and it’ll restore the feature on your Mac:

 defaults write show-thumbnail -bool true 

Take Multiple Screenshots on Your Mac Quickly

Disabling floating screenshot thumbnails helps eliminate the need to wait between screenshots. If your work requires you to take a lot of screenshots on your Mac frequently, this can speed up the workflow and make your life easier.

Keep in mind that disabling screenshot previews comes at a cost. While you can continue taking screenshots on your Mac as you did earlier, you’ll have to navigate to their location every time you want to annotate or share them.

Besides disabling floating previews, you can also customize other behaviors of the Screenshot app, such as the default file prefix, capture format, and destination folder for Mac screenshots, as required.


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