Taking a screenshot

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This article explains different methods to take screenshots on your system.

Dedicated software

  • Deepin Screenshot — A quite easy-to-use screenshot tool. Features: global hotkey to trigger screenshot tool, take screenshot of a selected area, easy to add text and line drawings onto the screenshot. Python/Qt5 based.
http://www.linuxdeepin.com/ || deepin-screenshot
  • Escrotum — Screen capture using pygtk, inspired by scrot.
https://github.com/Roger/escrotum || escrotum-gitAUR
  • gnome-screenshot — Despite its name its dependencies are only dconf, gtk3, and libcanberra.
http://gnome.org || gnome-screenshot
  • imgur-screenshot — Take screenshot selection, upload to imgur. + more cool things
https://github.com/jomo/imgur-screenshot || imgur-screenshot-gitAUR
  • Lightscreen — Lightscreen is a simple tool to automate the tedious process of saving and cataloging screenshots, it operates as a hidden background process that is invoked with one (or multiple) hotkeys and then saves a screenshot file to disk according to the user's preferences.
http://lightscreen.com.ar || lightscreenAUR
  • maim — A simple command line utility that takes screenshots using imlib2. It's meant to replace scrot and performs better than scrot in many ways.
https://github.com/naelstrof/maim || maim
  • screencloud — allows you to take a screenshot of the entire screen or to select an area and then uploading the screenshot to imgur+auth. has plugins and system tray.
http://screencloud.net/ || screencloudAUR
  • screengrab — Cross-platform application designed to quickly take screenshots (Qt).
http://screengrab.doomer.org/ || screengrabAUR
  • Scrot — Simple command-line screenshot utility for X.
http://freecode.com/projects/scrot || scrot
  • Shutter — Rich screenshot and editing program. Supports delay.
http://shutter-project.org/ || shutter
  • SpectacleKDE application for taking screenshots. It is capable of capturing images of the whole desktop, a single window, a section of a window, a selected rectangular region or a freehand region. Part of kdegraphics.
https://github.com/KDE/spectacle/ || spectacle
  • Xfce4 Screenshooter — This application allows you to capture the entire screen, the active window or a selected region. You can set the delay that elapses before the screenshot is taken and the action that will be done with the screenshot: save it to a PNG file, copy it to the clipboard, open it using another application, or host it on ZimageZ, a free online image hosting service. Part of xfce4-goodies.
http://goodies.xfce.org/projects/applications/xfce4-screenshooter || xfce4-screenshooter
  • xwd — X Window System image dumping utility
http://xorg.freedesktop.org/ || xorg-xwd

Packages including a screenshot utility

  • GIMP — Image editing suite in the vein of proprietary editors such as Adobe Photoshop. GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) has been started in the mid 1990s and has acquired a large number of plugins and additional tools.
http://www.gimp.org/ || gimp
  • GraphicsMagick — Fork of ImageMagick designed to have API and command-line stability. It also supports multi-CPU for enhanced performance and thus is used by some large commercial sites (Flickr, etsy) for its performance.
http://www.graphicsmagick.org/ || graphicsmagick
  • ImageMagick — Command-line image manipulation program. It is known for its accurate format conversions with support for over 100 formats. Its API enables it to be scripted and it is usually used as a backend processor.
http://www.imagemagick.org/script/index.php || imagemagick
  • Imlib2 — Library that does image file loading and saving as well as rendering, manipulation, arbitrary polygon support.
http://sourceforge.net/projects/enlightenment/ || imlib2
  • MATE Utils — Common MATE utilities for viewing disk usage, logs and fonts, taking screenshots, managing dictionaries and searching files.
http://mate-desktop.org || mate-utils

Details: general methods


An easy way to take a screenshot of your current system is using the import command:

$ import -window root screenshot.jpg

import is part of the imagemagick package.

Running import without the -window option allows selecting a window or an arbitrary region interactively.

Note: If you prefer graphicsmagick alternative, just prepend "gm", e.g. $ gm import -window root screenshot.jpg.

Screenshot of multiple X screens

If you run twinview or dualhead, simply take the screenshot twice and use imagemagick to paste them together:

import -window root -display :0.0 -screen /tmp/0.png
import -window root -display :0.1 -screen /tmp/1.png
convert +append /tmp/0.png /tmp/1.png screenshot.png
rm /tmp/{0,1}.png

Screenshot of individual Xinerama heads

Xinerama-based multi-head setups have only one virtual screen. If the physical screens are different in height, you will find dead space in the screenshot. In this case, you may want to take screenshot of each physical screen individually. As long as Xinerama information is available from the X server, the following will work:

xdpyinfo -ext XINERAMA | sed '/^  head #/!d;s///' |
while IFS=' :x@,' read i w h x y; do
        import -window root -crop ${w}x$h+$x+$y head_$i.png

Screenshot of the active/focused window

The following script takes a screenshot of the currently focused window. It works with EWMH/NetWM compatible X Window Managers. To avoid overwriting previous screenshots, the current date is used as the filename.

activeWinLine=$(xprop -root | grep "_NET_ACTIVE_WINDOW(WINDOW)")
import -window "$activeWinId" /tmp/$(date +%F_%H%M%S_%N).png

Alternatively, the following should work regardless of EWMH support:

$ import -window "$(xdotool getwindowfocus -f)" /tmp/$(date +%F_%H%M%S_%N).png
Note: If screenshots of some programs (dwb and zathura) appear blank, try appending -frame or removing -f from the xdotool command.


You also can take screenshots with GIMP (File > Create > Screenshot...).


Take a screenshot of the root window:

$ xwd -root -out screenshot.xwd
Note: The methods for taking shots of active windows with import can also be used with xwd.


scrot enables taking screenshots from the CLI and offers features such as a user-definable time delay. Unless instructed otherwise, it saves the file in the current working directory.

$ scrot -t 20 -d 5

The above command saves a dated .png file, along with a thumbnail (20% of original), for Web posting. It provides a 5 second delay before capturing in this instance.

You can also use standard date and time formatting when saving to a file. e.g.,

$ scrot ~/screenshots/%Y-%m-%d-%T-screenshot.png

saves the screenshot in a filename with the current year, month, date, hours, minutes, and seconds to a folder in your home directory called "screenshots"

See man scrot for more information. You can simply automate the file to uploaded like so [1].

Note: According to this thread, scrot -s does not work when run using a shortcut in dwm (defined in config.def.c/config.c).


escrotum-gitAUR screen capture using pygtk, inspired by scrot

Created because scrot has glitches when selection mode is used with refreshing windows.

Because the command line interface its almost the same as scrot, can be used as a replacement of it.


imlib2 provides a binary imlib2_grab to take screenshots. To take a screenshot of the full screen, type:

$ imlib2_grab screenshot.png

Note that scrot actually uses imlib2.


maim is aimed to be an improved scrot.

Takes screenshots of your desktop using imlib2 and slop for regions. It's meant to overcome shortcomings of scrot and performs better in several ways.


FFmpeg provides an x11grab device that allows the screen to be captured in X11.

Take a screenshot on a width x height display:

$ ffmpeg -f x11grab -video_size widthxheight -i $DISPLAY -vframes 1 screen.png

Here, the PNG codec is used as it's lossless and suitable for screenshots, but any image codec can be used.

The same device allows for screencasting (on a display with a refresh rate of rate HZ):

$ ffmpeg -f x11grab -video_size widthxheight -framerate rate -i $DISPLAY -c:v libx264 -preset ultrafast cast.mkv

Here, the x264 codec with the fastest possible encoding speed is used. Other codecs can be used; if writing each frame is too slow (either due to inadequate disk performance or slow encoding), then frames will be dropped and video output will be choppy.


In the Weston Wayland compositor, screenshots can be taking by pressing Super+s, which are stored in Weston's current working directory. Screencasts are also supported; recording is started and stopped by pressing Super+r, which will create a file called capture.wcap in Weston's current working directory. The capture can be decoded to YUV format by running wcap-decode --yuv4mpeg2 capture.wcap; the output of this command can be written to a file or piped into FFmpeg for further processing.

Details: desktop environment specific


If you use KDE, you might want to use Spectacle.

Spectacle is provided by the spectacle.

Xfce Screenshooter

If you use Xfce you can install xfce4-screenshooter and then add a keyboard binding:

Xfce Menu > Settings > Keyboard > Application Shortcuts

If you want to skip the Screenshot prompt, type $ xfce4-screenshooter -h in terminal for the options.


GNOME users can press Prnt Scr or Apps > Accessories > Take Screenshot. You may need to install gnome-screenshot.


The default installation of Cinnamon does not provide a screenshot utility. Installing gnome-screenshot will enable screenshots through the Menu > Accessories > Screenshot or by pressing Prnt Scr.

Other desktop environments or window managers

For other desktop environments such as LXDE or window managers such as Openbox and Compiz, one can add the above commands to the hotkey to take the screenshot. For example,

$ import -window root ~/Pictures/$(date '+%Y%m%d-%H%M%S').png

Adding the above command to the Prnt Scr key to Compiz allows to take the screenshot to the Pictures folder according to date and time. Notice that the rc.xml file in Openbox does not understand commas; so, in order to bind that command to the Prnt Scr key in Openbox, you need to add the following to the keyboard section of your rc.xml file:

<!-- Screenshot -->
    <keybind key="Print">
      <action name="Execute">
        <command>sh -c "import -window root ~/Pictures/$(date '+%Y%m%d-%H%M%S').png"</command>

If the Print above does not work, see Extra keyboard keys and use different keysym or keycode.


Output with ansi codes

You can use the script command, part of the util-linux package. Just enter $ script and from that moment, all the output is going to be saved to the typescript file, including the ansi codes.

Once you are done, just type exit and the typescript would ready. The resulting file can be converted to html using the package ansi2htmlAUR, from the AUR.

To convert the typescript file to typescript.html, do the following:

$ ansi2html --bg=dark < typescript > typescript.html

Actually, some commands can be piped directly to ansi2html:

$ ls --color|ansi2html --bg=dark >output.html

That does not work on every single case, so in those cases, using script is mandatory.

Virtual console

Install a framebuffer and use fbgrab or fbdump to take a screenshot.

If you merely want to capture the text in the console and not an actual image, you can use setterm, which is part of the util-linux package. The following command will dump the textual contents of virtual console 1 to a file screen.dump in the current directory:

# setterm -dump 1 -file screen.dump

Root permission is needed because the contents of /dev/vcs1 need to be read.