Capturing screenshots in Linux

Capturing screenshots in Linux

Summary: I am constantly documenting all sorts of things on my computer, and recently I decided it was time to figure out what to use in Linux that will allow easy screenshot capturing which is essential for good documentation. I have used the "Snipping Tool" in Windows 7 which is a good and flexible application.

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TOPICS: Open Source
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I am constantly documenting all sorts of things on my computer, and recently I decided it was time to figure out what to use in Linux that will allow easy screenshot capturing which is essential for good documentation. I have used the "Snipping Tool" in Windows 7 which is a good and flexible application. But now it's time to find something in Linux that works the same way.

By default, Fedora comes with an application called "Take Screenshot" which is located under the Applications menu under Accessories. The "Take Screenshot" utility works for basic screenshots, and can grab the whole desktop, current window, or select an area. "Take Screenshot" also has options to delay by a number of seconds, and to include the pointer and/or window border. After taking the screenshot, you can save to an image file or copy to the clipboard. While this is a very basic solution, it does work well.

In my search, I came across another application called "Shutter". After installing it with a simple click in Fedora, I started to test around with it and soon found out that this is the champion of all screenshot capturing utilities I have ever used. It makes the "Snipping Tool" in Windows 7 look like an amateur. Shutter allows you to capture the entire desktop, a window, or a selection, just like "Take Screenshot". However, Shutter has additional options that make it a very powerful application. When taking a screenshot, it is saved in Shutter until you do something with it, and it can hold more than one screenshot. Windows 7's "Snipping Tool" cannot hold more than one screenshot at a time, which I find somewhat annoying if I want to take a series of screenshots then go through them all later. Windows 7's "Snipping Tool" cannot run more than once either (if you click New you will lose your current screenshot), so you are forced to save each screenshot as you take it. "Take Screenshot" does not hold more than one image either, although you can run it multiple times and save them all when you are done. Shutter saves all of the screenshots in a single interface, and you can easily "open with" from Shutter to send the screenshot directly to another application like GIMP, and you can also edit the screenshot directly in Shutter's own image editor (Shutter DrawingTool) which is good for doing basic modifications, like drawing arrows, adding text, etc. Then from the Shutter DrawingTool you can save the changes back to Shutter, export as a new image, send it directly to another application, or copy it to the clipboard. Shutter even has a feature to allow capturing a menu structure in any application (it's basically a timed capture but it will grab only the menu area and will put in a transparent background behind it if you have cascading menus).

Photo courtesy of the Shutter Project Website

If you need to take a lot of screenshots and edit them regularly, I highly recommend Shutter. It's a great application. It is like the DigiKam of photo management applications, packed with useful features. I used to think the Snipping Tool in Windows 7 was the best I had seen for screenshot taking, however now I know that Shutter has easily taken its place, and gives me even more productivity on my Linux PC than ever.

Topic: Open Source

Chris Clay

About Chris Clay

After administering Linux and Windows for over 17 years in multiple environments, my focus of this blog is to document my adventures in both operating systems to compare the two against each other. Past and present experiences have shown me that Linux can replace Windows and succeed in a vast variety of environments. Linux has proven itself many times over in the datacentre and is more than capable for the desktop.

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4 comments
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  • Personally, I've always used ksnapshot, which is part of the KDE suite. I regularly use the feature where-by you can take a snapshot of a region of the screen. At work we have to run XP and I use ksnapshot on that, which works much better than the tedious ctrl/prt scrn, open mspaint, paste in the clip board, select the bit of the screenshot you actually want, create a new image, etc, etc.
    openhgs
  • Thanks for this information, it will be very useful to me. Both KDE and Gnome have "adequate" screen capture utilities, which I use frequently. But it sounds like Shutter is really a cut above those, and I am looking forward to trying it out.

    jw
    j.a.watson@...
  • If you don't need to create these fancy red circles and arrows, and just make a quick and easy screenshot, use Screenshot plugin for Compiz. It becomes so natural and easy: hold the button, drag your mouse to select an area, and you're done. You can even tell Compiz to launch a specific application for the post-processing of your screenshot. I usually just launch viewer to see what's been captured.
    anonymous
  • openhgs & mrak018 :

    Thanks for the additional information on those two. It's good to know that there are alternatives so that we can all choose which one suits us best.
    Chris_Clay