I just freshly installed Ubuntu 18.04 and downloaded the latest updates. I'm having trouble taking screenshots to clipboard using the built-in gnome-screenshot tool. The default keyboard shortcuts Ctrl+PrintScreen and Ctrl+Shift+PrintScreen don't appear to work (makes the shutter sound, but empty clipboard and nothing saved in Pictures folder either), and using gnome-screenshot -c in the terminal is similarly ineffective.

I've read that gnome-screenshot had clipboard issues with Wayland, but my understanding is that 18.04 defaults to Xorg. Checking my login settings, the default is "Ubuntu," with a secondary "Ubuntu on Wayland" option. I'm just using the default.

  • Ubuntu 18.04 use Xorg by default – Jerare Dec 17 '19 at 20:52
  • Just to make sure, run echo $XDG_SESSION_TYPE to check your session. – pomsky Dec 19 '19 at 14:17

Not sure if this is related - in my case (fresh Ubuntu 19.10), gnome-screenshot -c would put the captured image to the clipboard, but somehow I can only paste it in certain applications (e.g. Gimp) while not in others (e.g. Chrome).

Found a workaround by (assigning to a shortcut) this:

gnome-screenshot -acf /tmp/test && cat /tmp/test | xclip -i -selection clipboard -target image/png
  • Nice workaround. Mine was working fine with Ubuntu 18.04 and when I recently upgraded to 20.04 it stopped working. Thanks for this solution. – raddevus Oct 8 '20 at 15:17
  • 1
    To make this work with Ubuntu 20.04 Keyboard Shortcuts I had to wrap it sh -c "gnome-screenshot -acf /tmp/test && cat /tmp/test | xclip -i -selection clipboard -target image/png" – Brian Leishman Apr 12 at 16:01

Had the same problem in Ubuntu 20.04: gnome-screenshot -a -c was not copying to clipboard.

Solution was to ensure xclip was installed with sudo apt install xclip.

  • gnome-screenshot version = 3.36.0
  • xclip version = 0.13-1
  • This is the correct solution! – Ikbel Jun 6 at 14:46

Today I had a similar problem under Oracle Linux 8: It wouldn't copy to the clipboard. I could resolve this with running the command:

env GDK_BACKEND=x11 gnome-screenshot -i

Note the x, it is not capital X as usual!

You may enter -c instead of -i, of course. On this Oracle Linux 8 machine other applications couldn't create a window at all without the GDK_BACKEND setting.

  • How do you run this though? – mathtick Dec 30 '20 at 18:48

Try find $HOME -name "Screenshot*" to see if the screenshots are being saved in an unexpected location. Also check Settings|Keyboard Shortcuts. In a recently upgraded 20.04.1 (from 18.04) gnome-screenshot saved the png images in $HOME instead $HOME/Pictures as before.


I had this problem on Ubuntu 20.04 but I couldn't get it working from a custom shortcut key. I had to write a bash script.

Note: I also had to install xclip as shown in Ben's answer.

Here it is:

  1. nano screengrab.sh
  2. add text shown below
  3. save file
  4. chmod a+x screengrab.sh (make it executable script)
  5. open shortcut keys and add details shown in image below

screengrab.sh contents

rm -rf /home/user/Pictures/2.png

gnome-screenshot -acf /home/user/Pictures/2.png

Note: Your PNG file can be named anything, just make sure you delete the same named file first and then it will be created each time by the gnome-screenshot app. If you don't delete it or you have the wrong file name each time it will fail silently.

shortcut keys

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