For some vital reason that we need not linger on, you want to share what’s on your desktop with others. What are your options?
These are some of the most prevalent tools on Linux for taking screenshots. If one’s not conveniently available on your distribution of choice, at the very least, you’ll find another in its software center/repositories.
Shutter is an established favorite but has dropped off the spotlight since it’s not available on Ubuntu’s official repositories anymore.
Although it has lots of features, most people use it by running it and then clicking on the Selection, Desktop, or Window buttons on its toolbar, to take a screenshot of said screen area. It’s one of the most feature-rich programs of its kind on Linux and works as you’d expect.
With Flameshot, you don’t have to rely on separate programs for basic editing – you can do it right after you grab a screenshot before saving it. Flameshot gives you tools to add text and a basic pen tool for this. After you’re happy with the results, you can export them to a file and the clipboard.
A personal annoyance: Like ImageMagick and GIMP, it doesn’t offer a function for capturing a window. You have to manually define a bounding box around it. But unlike ImageMagick and GIMP, Flameshot’s supposed to be first and foremost a screenshot tool. All other such “screenshot tools” in our little collection do contain such a function. And I personally consider it more important in such programs than support for drawing on screenshots with a Windows Paint equivalent.
Balancing between two related roles, Kazam helps you share what’s on your screen as static screenshots or videos.
For that, it offers two modes, “Screencast” and “Screenshot,” displayed as two groups of actions and options.
First, select one of them, depending on if you want a single screen grab or a video stream of your desktop – and in this case, we’re devoting our attention to the Screenshot mode. Then set up some additional parameters, like if you’d like to include the mouse cursor or window borders in the captured images, and any delay before capturing. Finally, with a click on Fullscreen, Window, or Area, you can capture what’s displayed on the respective part of your screen.
Screencloud is more network-conscious than its peers, as hinted by its very name. The program allows you to capture the whole screen, a window, or a freely selected rectangular area. Afterward, you can save it to a file but also upload it to a load of cloud services.
Some export targets it supports are:
- Ubuntu One
5. Gnome Screenshot
Thanks to Gnome’s popularity, its official screenshot tool, which comes with the desktop environment, is also one of the most popular accessories in this category.
Gnome Screenshot offers what you’d expect from such a program:
- Three typical full-screen, rectangular area, and active window capture modes
- A timer for delayed capture, to give you time to set up your screenshot-to-be
- Support for capturing or excluding the mouse cursor or the window border
- Some minor effects (like extra borders and shadows)
6. KDE Spectacle
Although Spectacle is excellent at what it does, we won’t expand on it because it’s almost a mirror image of Gnome Screenshot but for the KDE desktop environment.
If you check out what we mentioned in the section above regarding Gnome Screenshot, the same points apply to Spectacle.
When thinking of ImageMagick, many people don’t realize it’s a full-blown image-processing tool, that it’s been around for decades, or that it can also grab screenshots. Now that’s “subverting our expectations!”
The reason not much is happening in our screenshot is that ImageMagick is a command-line tool. No GUIs and menus with options here. To capture a window or area of the screen, you can, for example, enter in a terminal:
Then, select what you want to capture, and ImageMagick will save it as a “name_of_file.jpg” file. To change the format, you can change the file’s extension, swapping “jpg” for png, tiff, or any other of the many formats ImageMagick supports.
Since it’s a full-blown image processing tool, this is just scratching the surface. Read more here about the options of its
import command to further tweak your screen captures.
In what we consider pure overkill for what we deal with in this article, it’s possible to use GIMP to take screenshots of your desktop. Why use a quick and light tool for the job when you have a whole image-editing suite installed and GBs of RAM to spare?
To grab a screenshot from a section of your screen, run GIMP and select “File -> Screenshot.” Then, define the space you want to save as a screenshot. That’s it. No extra options, bells and whistles – for obvious reasons. Need only a window? You’re in GIMP, crop your image! Add shadows, filters, transform and bend it at will. That’s what GIMP specializes in, after all!
An extended family
Those are some of the most popular screen-grabbing tools but far from the whole picture. There are dozens of alternatives, many just as good, that we couldn’t fit in this article – like XFCE’s screenshooter or lightscreen. Each has its pros and cons, and some work better in some distributions/desktop environments than others.
What is your favorite?