Three months ago we published two Photoshop actions we developed to clean up shadows in Leopard screenshots when using the command-shift-4 plus spacebar screen capture technique. We received a number of thank-you emails, so those tips must have touched a nerve for some people out there.

This week’s tip covers a different way to remove the shadows from Leopard window screen captures: A simple terminal hack that disables shadows in the screen capture itself.

While this doesn’t matter much to most users, those extra Leopard shadows can be a real pain for some designers (and tip writers) who regularly use screen captures in documentation.

Terminal: Disabling Shadows in Leopard Screen Captures:

For more technically inclined users, here are the terminal commands that will remove shadows from Leopard window grabs. Please consider yourself sufficiently warned that using terminal can break your computer if mishandled.

Turn OFF Shadows in Leopard Screen Captures:

 defaults write com.apple.screencapture disable-shadow -bool true

To make the change take effect, logout and login, restart, or kill the SystemUIServer process using the following command:

 killall SystemUIServer

Now, when you grab a window using the command-shift-4 plus spacebar shortcut, the shadow is not included.

Turn ON Shadows in Leopard Screen Captures:

And here are the commands to set shadows back to normal.

 defaults delete com.apple.screencapture disable-shadow

As before, logout and login, restart, or kill the SystemUIServer process as before.

Comparing the Results.

If you use screenshots in a lot of documentations, this tip can save you a lot of time. But it depends on how picky you are. With shadows disabled using this terminal technique, the small rounded edges in the top left and right of your windows are not as nicely maintained.


The Photoshop action used here is shown with a custom layer effect turned off to show only the edge transparency. That action is available in our earlier tip: Clean up Shadows in Leopard Screenshots.

If you are the type of person who cares about the subtle transparency details in your screenshots, this terminal trick isn’t going to satisfy you. However, if you find yourself doing a lot of quick-and-dirty Mac documentation, and want to get rid of those annoying Leopard shadows, this terminal command can be a great timesaver.

Source: This terminal tip comes from the archives of Mac OS X Hints which we first discovered through a post on the TUAW blog.