I want to take screenshots in Ubuntu. This is normally no big problem with the standard gnome-screenshot program is working good.

But just now I ran into trouble because I need to take a screenshot of some window which appears only for about 0.5 seconds. The Problem is that the gnome-screenshot is using a (from me at least disappreciated animation when used... this fancy thing kind of delays all and I really cannot manage to take the picture..)

So what I need is a "no frills" "down to the ground" alternative to the gnome-screenshot. I really disklike the animation - now because it makes me so much trouble. I also hate it that there appears to be no way to disable it after all. Everybody is forced to accept this animation that looks like "a flash light is going on". I am not against being fancy... but this animation in gnome-screenshot is impacting/reducing its functionality. Indeed in my case the shortly appearing window hides when loosing focus. The animaiton -as I assume- triggers the "loosing of focus". So because of the animation I cannot take the screenshot.

Anyhow I have looked for "less frills" alternatives and I have found that shutter is a programme that commes with quite some baggage.. But maybe somebody knows a very light-weight programm that serves the very sinple (do nothing else) purpose of just taking a screenshot...


You can use import from the ImageMagick or GraphicsMagick packages:

import -window root screenshot.png
  • Sounds like a nice approach and maybe at zero-costs when ImageMagick is already installed on the system. I do not have it yet and so using the option you suggest still is far from light-weight in my case here. The lightest so far is still the scrot which in my setup only brought 3 more packages with it. But maybe the solution is the most light-weight for users already having ImageMagick.. thank you – humanityANDpeace Nov 25 '12 at 15:35

I used a program named scrot which is really lightweight.

I then setup this in the Terminal

cd /tmp/

while true; do sleep 0.1s ; scrot; done

which will cause that (assuming performace allows) there is about 1 screenshot taken each .1s. (Almost like recording a movie:).

scrot safes the files (named with a timestamp) in the current directory. That is why cd /tmp is a good first step.

Anyhow there is no baggage, no animation... simply screenshot. I kind of like scrot


I'm surprised to hear you're having trouble with gnome-screenshot. In my experience it takes the image first, then does it's silly animation thing. I never actually found it annoying before, but now I do, thanks very much. ;-)

I did some tests with top set to refresh every 0.1 second and found that gnome-screenshop always managed to record the screen shot before top registered that gnome-screenshot was using cpu cycles.

In any case, there's a few more features you could try with screenshot that might do the trick for you, mainly run it in interactive mode and see if that improves the response, or used the timed screenshot features it has. To start the interactive mode:

gnome-screenshot --interactive

To see some of the other hidden features have a look at the man page for gnome-screenshot. BTW shutter is great, but now that I've found the interactive mode of gnome-screenshot I really don't think I need it.

  • I am quite impressed by you going through all the work... and doing some testing about that. I am not sure how top will yield the informaiton about the timing of of the animation and the taking of the screenshot. It is open source... if I was not so lazy... well maybe I could go in the source and maybe there the answer would wait ... no testing necessary... Still I like the attitude.. than you very much for that. – humanityANDpeace Nov 25 '12 at 15:29
  • I was aware of the gnome-screenshot --interactive mode but I could not manage it to do what I wanted. I am still suspicious about that gnome-screenshot's animation might interfere with all in the end, since the window I wanted to capture seems to be hiding once loosing its focus.... – humanityANDpeace Nov 25 '12 at 15:31
  • I can only think that at the time of trying to do the screenshot your cpu is heavily loaded causing a lag, because the lag in gnome-screenshot is really very small. – fabricator4 Nov 25 '12 at 19:50

Shutter (http://shutter-project.org/) might do the trick. I don't know if it is fast enough but theoretically you can click on the window you want a screenshot of. As you mentioned it does come with baggage, but I think it's the best.

  • Shutter might be great. Still I think it goes in the wrong direction. It is feature-rich and not reduced to its purpose. Seeing the bulk of side-packageds it required I decided not to try it. I think for the simple desired funcitonality "take a screenshot"... 40+ packages (with ssl and imagemagick....) its like shooting little birds with canons.. Still thank you for the idea with shutter – humanityANDpeace Nov 25 '12 at 9:39
  • Well, this is off, but I couldn't resist, you should know that canons are widely used to shoot little birds, just look at flickr! Yes indeed, Canon made feature-rich DSLR with mounted telephoto lenses are very well suited to shoot little birds... – B2F Feb 6 '16 at 19:29

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.