How to Take Screenshots With Tool Tips

This one’s for anyone who has to create software documentation on the Mac and wants to include screenshots with tool tips. Or is it “screen shots with tooltips”? I can never decide where the spaces go in these words. Anyway…

The challenge is that tool tips are shy. Or maybe they’re just very polite and want to get out of your way as soon as possible. Whether you’re using the Mac’s native shortcuts for screen shots or a third-party utility, tool tips will disappear soon as you press any key. D’oh!

The solution might be obvious, but it eluded me for a while, so I thought it was worth sharing. Instead of getting the tool tip on screen and then pressing the keyboard shortcut, do this: press and hold all the modifier keys you need (could be Command, Shift, Option, and/or Ctrl depending on how you’re taking the screenshot), then move your cursor to the spot where you want the tool tip to appear. When the tool tip is onscreen, press the final key to take the screen shot. Voilà, screen shot avec tool tip.

For example if I wanted a shot of InDesign’s Tools panel with a tool tip showing the name and shortcut for a tool, I’d press and hold Command+Shift. Then mouse over the Tools panel to the right spot. Wait for the tip to appear, then press 4 and drag the marquee to define the area of the shot.

screenshot with tool tip

Pretty simple once you know the trick.

3 thoughts on “How to Take Screenshots With Tool Tips

    1. Good catch! In this case, I used SnapzPro, but you can also get screenshots with the cursor and tooltip for free with the Mac’s Grab utility. I haven’t figured out a way to do that with a selection or window, but the Timed Screen option works. You’d just have to crop it in Photoshop, etc afterward. Choose Grab > Preferences to pick the cursor you want.


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