How to Troubleshoot Blank Screenshot in High Sierra

Mac
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Taking screenshots is the most effective way to do step-by-step tutorials, facilitate troubleshooting, or simply document what you have on your screen. There are many ways to take screenshots on Mac, depending on how much and which part of the screen you want to capture.

Here are the shortcuts to take screenshots on a Mac:

  • Press Command + Shift + 3 to capture the entire screen.
  • Hold Shift + Command + 4, then press the space bar to capture a window.
  • Press Shift + Command + 4 to capture a selected area of the screen.

The screenshots are automatically saved to the Desktop or to your specified destination folder. You can also choose to copy it to the clipboard and directly paste it to other applications, such as Microsoft Word, Google documents, email, Notes, and more.

However, some Mac users reported encountering blank screenshots in High Sierra recently. The problem occurred whenever they tried to capture their screen using the different shortcuts. Some users even tried using the Take Screenshot feature of Preview, but the images turned out to be blank. They heard the camera shutter sound, which meant that the screenshot was taken, but the screenshots still turned out to be white or gray blank images.

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This problem has caused a lot of inconvenience to the affected users. Although most of the reported issues happened on macOS High Sierra, it is possible that the problem affects other macOS versions as well.

The issue of blank screenshot in High Sierra can be caused by different factors, including:

  • A corrupted .plist file
  • Incorrect keyboard settings
  • Malware infection
  • Incompatibility issue with third-party apps or processes

If screenshot in High Sierra is not working, you can follow the steps outlined below to resolve this issue and get this feature working properly again.

What to Do If Screenshots Turn Up Blank in High Sierra

It can be annoying getting blank screenshots in High Sierra, especially if the moment you want to capture is difficult or impossible to recreate, such as the results of your online game that you want to brag about or an error that you need to document.

There are several ways to fix this issue, depending on the cause. But before you do anything else, close all running applications, delete junk files using Mac repair app, and reboot your Mac to refresh the system. If your problem is caused by a temporary glitch, restarting the system should easily fix this. Try your luck and see if screenshot is now working. If not, proceed with the steps below.

Step 1: Check Keyboard Settings.

The first thing you need to do is to check whether the screenshot shortcuts are enabled on your keyboard. To do this:

  1. Open the Apple Menu and choose System Preferences.
  2. Click Keyboard, then click on the Shortcuts tab.
  3. Choose Screen Shots from the left menu, then make sure all these options are ticked off:
    • Save picture of screen as a file
    • Copy picture of screen to the clipboard
    • Save picture of selected area as a file
    • Copy picture of selected area to the clipboard

You can also see the corresponding shortcuts for each type of screenshot.

If everything looks good, proceed to the next step.

Step 2: Reset Screenshot Settings.

Over time, your screenshot settings can get corrupted due to various reasons. The easiest way to reset this is by deleting the .plist file associated with this feature. To do this:

  1. Click Go in the Finder Menu.
  2. Choose Go to folder.
  3. Type in this address in the dialog box: ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.screencapture.plist.
  4. Move the .plist file to the Trash, then empty it.

Deleting the screencapture .plist file should reset the preferences for this feature to their default settings. Try doing a screenshot again and check if the image is now okay.

Step 3: Boot Into Safe Mode.

If resetting the system preferences did not work, try booting into Safe Mode. To boot into Safe Mode, restart your Mac then immediately press the Shift button when you hear the startup sound. Release the Shift button once the login window appears. You should now be running macOS in Safe Mode.

While in Safe Mode, try doing a screenshot. If the screenshot image looks fine, then a third-party app might be interfering with the screen capture process. What you need to do is find out which app is causing the problem.

Delete the apps that you don’t need or use to narrow down your options. Uninstall all recently installed apps, particularly those you installed around the time the screen capture feature went wonky.

Once you’ve figured out the culprit, uninstall the app then re-install a fresh copy. Check if doing this gets the screenshot problem fixed.

Step 4: Use Terminal to Capture a Screenshot.

If you’re still getting a blank screenshot in High Sierra, you can try running commands to do a screen capture. Launch Terminal from the Utilities folder and enter the command that corresponds to the type of screenshot you want to make:

  • screencapture -iW ~/Desktop/screen.jpg (if you want to capture an active window)
  • screencapture -c (if you want to capture the whole screen)

You should hear a camera shutter sound to confirm that the screenshot was taken. Check if the image captured from this method looks okay. If not, you can use other methods of taking screenshots discussed below.

Step 5: Use Preview to Take a Screenshot.

Preview is the macOS built-in app that allows users to open and edit images. You can also use this tool to take a screen capture using the toolbox icon.

To use Preview as a screenshot tool, follow the steps below.

  1. Open any image using Preview.
  2. Click File from the top menu, then choose Take Screenshot.
  3. Choose from the three options:
    • From Selection
    • From Window
    • From Entire Screen

Check the screenshots taken if they look good.

Step 6: Use Third-Party Apps to Take Screenshots.

If you can’t use macOS built-in tools to take screenshots, you can use third-party apps instead. There are a lot of screenshot apps for macOS that provide different ways to capture screens. Aside from installing stand-alone apps for screen capture purposes, you can also use browser extensions to take shots of webpages.

Summary

Screenshots are highly useful for making step-by-step tutorials or for sharing something on your screen. Recent reports of blank screenshots in High Sierra have caused inconvenience to several users, making screen capture almost impossible. Following this guide should be able to help the affected users fix their faulty screen capture tool.

1 thought on “How to Troubleshoot Blank Screenshot in High Sierra
  1. Michel
    Michel
    March 18, 2021, 12:45 PM

    To complete I put here the reply of another article (https://softwaretested.com/mac/5-ways-to-fix-black-screen-after-high-sierra-update/) about BlackScreen because blank screenshot seem linked with security update.
    I encountered this problem (black screen) when after a High Sierra 10.13.6 recovering process via Apple Store, I tried to install Security Update 2020-05 (Black Screen) & 06. Many thanks to you….
    All was OK but he screenshot (via keyboard, Preview ou Capture) don’t work and provides totally or partially white screenshots…
    No such issue, if booting on another small partition w/o security update.

    Apple Support invites me to clean all disk and resinstall… impossible for me : the disk contains blind infos (like SN#) since 2012 and lot of apps (32b)…

    After lot of tests on the Imac 27” 2012, for deeper tests I create a clone in external HD (thanks to CCCloner) w/o security updates and test on it updating from another disk. The process is clean, lot of informations displayed displayed in install app and not restarts during the updating process. It is possible not to use Apple Store app process but .DMG or .pkg now availables in Apple Suport since recently. (thanks to DiskMaker X 7 for High Sierra v7.01)
    I discover that Security Update 2020-05 changes the version of graphics driver (AMD Radeon) from .20 to .25 with changing dates (System/Library/Extensions !?! Note starting with Safe (shift) don’t use graphic driver… It is wihy ScreenShot works in safe mode…

    To conclude updating (or recovering) High Sierra 10.13.6 seems to be more stable when using an another partition containing a system. It is why having a minimal partition on venerable machine is recommanded…

    Hope this reply can help vintage (but powerful) machine’s owner.

    Cheers.

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