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How to screenshot individual UI elements on macOS

Screenshot tools tend to focus on windows, specific areas on the screen, or the entire screen. On macOS, those are the three types of screenshots you can take out of the box. Third-party screenshot tools have similar options and they all tend to focus on entire screens, whole windows, or select areas.

If you need to screenshot individual UI elements on macOS, you will find yourself cropping them out of larger screenshots. A quicker way to screenshot just the UI elements is to use Snipaste. It’s a free app that’s available for Windows 10 as well, and it does a great job on both platforms. A Linux version is in the works.

Screenshot individual UI elements

Download and run Snipaste. The download appears to be slow even though the file is small and this likely has to do with the server the file is hosted on so be patient. Once installed and running, you need to enable the app’s ability to detect UI elements.

Click Snipaste’s menu bar icon and select ‘Preferences’ from the menu.

On the Preferences window, go to the Snip tab. This tab has three more tabs under it. Select the ‘Behavior’ tab. On the Behavior tab, enable the ‘Auto detect UI elements’ option. When you enable this option, you will have to give the app additional accessibility access. Go ahead and do so. Quit the app and run it again.

Tap the F1 key (don’t forget to hold down the Fn key as well), to activate the app. Move your cursor over various UI elements. An outline will appear around the elements that it detects. Click to capture the screenshot, and then save it.

Snipaste works fairly well on macOS but it works better on Windows. The Mac version of the app is still in beta so we can’t complain much.

The screenshots aren’t upscaled; if the element that you screenshot is small e.g., a button, the screenshot will also be small. It will not be resized to be much larger. You can try resizing it with Preview but at some point, the image will lose its clarity and tear. If you have a high-resolution display, you can get away with resizing it to a greater extent but you will eventually end up with tearing.

Snipaste is in beta but it has some really great features for taking better screenshots and it has excellent keyboard shortcut support. It also has some basic annotation tools but they’re not better than what Preview has to offer.

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