How to get rid of the screenshot drop shadow in macOS

You can opt to remove it only sometimes or permanently.

screen shot drop shadow

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To follow up on previous advice on controlling how macOS takes screenshots, as described in “How to take better screenshot selections in macOS,” you can also choose to include or exclude a border and drop shadow when you just want to grab a window.

A thin border is supplemented in these screenshots by a drop shadow that provides contrast against a background. That’s a faux-real or skeuomorphic effect, as if a window is floating and casting a diffuse shadow, but it does make the window pop out more effectively when including it in documentation or an email.

macOS puts those elements in by default when you use the Command-Shift-4 keyboard shortcut and then press the spacebar while hovering over a window or menu to select it, and then clicking your mouse or trackpad or pressing Enter or Return.

You can remove the border and drop shadow by holding down the Option key while clicking. This lets you retain it when you want and disable it otherwise.

mac911 drop shadow macos IDG

The default macOS screen capture of a window includes a border and drop shadow (top), but you can easily change this for each capture or permanently (bottom). A thin gray border was added in both cases to show the extent of the image.

If you never want a border and drop shadow, you can use the Terminal to make that change permanent. Open Applications > Utilities > Terminal and then copy and paste each of these lines in turn:

defaults write disable-shadow true

killall SystemUIServer

You can reverse that by swapping true for false in the line above and pasting in that line and the next again.

The downside of this change is that you can’t retain the border while getting rid of the drop shadow, which is useful for light-colored windows or those with white edges. If you place the image into other software, you can typically set a border for it, as in Pages. Or, you can get an inexpensive photo editor, like Pixelmator or GraphicConverter, which makes it easy to add a bitmap border around the edge of an image.

mac911 drop shadow graphic convertor border IDG

If you want to add back a border, it’s easy in software like GraphicConverter.

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