Screen Capture Can't Be Saved

After upgrading my iMac to OS X Lion (10.7) everything works (or at least seems to work), until I tried to do a screen capture with the built-in tools.

Things that worked:

  • Capturing the entire desktop to file
  • Capturing a selection (using the cross-hair) to file
  • Capturing the entire desktop to the clipboard
  • Capturing a selection (using the cross-hair) to the clipboard

Things that didn't work:

  • Capturing entire windows to file or the clipboard (SHIFT-COMMAND-4 + SPACE / SHIFT-COMMAND-3 + SPACE)

All I got was a weird notification box with the message:

Screen capture can't be saved

The console application also showed an error message:

12/16/11 1:40:08.762 screencapture could not capture window 3c

Lurking around the Interwebs, I found this seem to occur after an upgrade of the OS, but real solutions are hard to come by.

This is what I did to solve my problem:

  • Remove the screencapture PLIST (preferences) file (~/Library/Preferences/
  • Copy a file from a working OS X Lion environment and place it in the correct location on the troubled OS X installation.

That seemed to result in two files (one with an additional extension of .locked). I removed the .locked file, rebooted the iMac, and screen capture worked again.

I must mention that I didn't see the .locked file initially. Could be that it existed before. In which case I probably did more than was required to get things fixed....

Posted on December 16, 2011 and filed under Annoying, Apple, Operating Systems, Tips'n Tricks.