While pressing Prnt Scrn mostly takes a screenshot there are times it doesn't do as intended. The most common case is when a dropdown menu is active.

How do I take such screenshots? I want a solution that works with the default screenshot or screen capture tool that comes with my distro.

5 Answers 5


The answer is quite similar for each distro. It requires you to use the "delay" feature present in these tools. The delay feature allows you to issue the command to take a screenshot after an interval that you specify. You can set this interval such that, after you have issued the command, you have enough time to bring up the screen you want to capture.

The exact way to set up a delay depends on each distro's default screenshot application. And, as often, you maybe able to do what you want via a GUI or a terminal or keyboard shortcuts.

GNOME in 22.04

In 22.04 the screenshot delay feature was replaced with a built in screen recording feature. Instead of taking a delayed shot you can record a video and then later pick the precise frame that you need for your screenshot.

unfortunately I was unable to work out how take a screenshot of the built in screenshot tool so here's a photo of it: photo of the screenshot tool

GNOME/Unity in 12.10

The default tool is Screenshot (aka gnome-screenshot if you want to run it from a terminal). So, you would start typing screenshot in Unity's Dash to see it appear for you to click on. You'll then see a small window with several options:


Some options will be exposed depending on what you choose. If you choose to grab the whole screen, the "Include the window border" and "Apply effect" won't be available.
Set things up as you want. A five second delay is a nice starting point to let you bring up the actual screen you wish to capture. To get things going, click "Take Screenshot". Quickly set up what you want and wait.
You'll hear the sound of an (old-fashioned) camera shutter and a new screen will appear.
In it, you will see:

  • a "thumbnail" of the screenshot
  • an option to specify the name and destination for saving the screenshot
  • and the possibility to save it to the clipboard instead if you wish to process the image further.

The default image format is .png, which is, in the opinion of some, a more suitable format than .jpg.

Note that the time delay feature of gnome-screenshot is not available if you choose "Select area to grab".

Lubuntu 12.10

The default screenshot capture tool in Lubuntu is called scrot. There is a way to use scrot with a time delay that doesn't require using the terminal. But it involves a one time edit of a file called lubuntu-rc.xml after backing it up for safety. This file is found in ~/.config/openbox. Go to this subfolder using your file manager, right-click on the file and open it with your favorite text editor. Then search for something like:

<!-- Launch scrot when Print is pressed -->
<keybind key="Print">
  <action name="Execute">

Where .... is whatever is currently there between <command> and </command>. Replace .... with

scrot -b -d 5 ~/Desktop/%Y:%m:%d:%H:%M:%S.png

Save the file and close it.

Go into a terminal and run openbox --reconfigure. (You won't see anything happen and you'll get back your prompt if you haven't messed up anything. If you have messed up something, you'll get an error. That's when the back-up comes handy.) Running the command is a necessary step to ensure that your edits to lubuntu-rc.xml are now active.

What you've done by editing lubuntu-rc.xml is to ask scrot to

  • take a full screenshot (including window borders because of -b)
  • with a time delay of five seconds
  • name the file based on the current time in year:month:day:hour:min:sec format in the .png format and
  • to save the image to your Desktop.

What is described above basically enables you to just hit Prnt Scrn, then do what you want such as open a menu within 5 sec after which scrot takes a full window screenshot. It does this silently. Don't expect to hear or see anything.

Running man scrot from a terminal provides you with more information on scrot.

One can modify the code to take a snap of the active window only by the addition of -u and assigning the keybind of Alt+Prnt Scrn to this code.

With both Prnt Scrn and Alt+Prnt Scrn, it is possible to add -q N to the code where -q tells scrot to save the image with a quality other than the default value of N which is 75. A high value will create a higher quality but larger file. According to man scrot the effect of -q is dependent on the image format chosen.

Xubuntu 12.10

The default screenshot tool in Xubuntu 12.10 is Xfce4-screenshooter. It has a GUI that doesn't look too different from that of the GNOME one:


As with the GNOME screenshot tool, there are a few options but the delay function is not available with "Select a region".

On clicking OK, another window appears with choices about saving the image to a file, copying it to the clipboard, opening it with programs that can manipulate images (as the dropdown shows), and even uploading it to a specific image-hosting service.


If one opts to save the image to disk, a regular "Save as" screen appears allowing you to specify the name, file type, and location of the saved format.

man xfce4-screenshooter has details of the switches available and those could help if a user is interested in modifying the functions of Prnt Scrn and Alt + Prnt Scrn to always use the delay option.

  • Prnt Scrn could be set to xfce4-screenshooter -d 5 -f. Then, any time Prnt Scrn is pressed, xfce4-screenshooter will take a snap of the full screen because of -f after a delay of 5 sec and then prompt you for a filename and location.
  • Alt+Prnt Scrn could be set to xfce4-screenshooter -d 5 -w to grab the active window because of -w.
  • looks like this feature was removed in 22.04 Commented Aug 18, 2022 at 12:19
  • @ThomasGrainger The delay was not removed as much as the screenshot utility was replaced. If you install sudo atp install gnome-screenshot, then you have two screenshot utilities in the dash, one of which still has the delay option.
    – hife
    Commented Oct 11, 2023 at 9:28

I use a program called Shutter Install shutter. To my knowledge it works on most of the desktop managers - I currently use is in Unity without problems, it works in the current Kubuntu and Mint for me as well.

You can see its got buttons to take screenshots of (in order, buttons from left to right):

  • Selection of the screen
  • One or more of the workspaces/desktops
  • Any window that is open
  • Any selection of a window
  • A single menu or cascading menus from an application
  • Tool tips
  • Websites

Furthermore, at the bottom you can see its also got a delay function. Its got a very nice basic editing tool as well as an app-indicator.

I've been super please with it for a long time.

  • 6
    I've used shutter for 2 years now. Each time I needed a timed screenshot I've resorted to gnome-screen-shot because I never saw that 'delay' control at the bottom. Thank you much for pointing this out, makes taking screenshots of things like menues so much easier. Commented Sep 9, 2016 at 18:36
  • Note that the delay does NOT work in "Selection" mode, unfortunately. Instead, you have to use "Desktop" screenshot mode. Commented Mar 30, 2018 at 23:02
  • 1
    Update: not true! To use it in Selection mode it's just kind of weird is all: set the delay, then click the "Selection" button, make your selection and hit enter. While making your selection you'll have to guess where the menu you want a screenshot of will be. Then, get your menu up and when the delay times out the screenshot will be taken where you previously selected. If the menu you want a screenshot of fits in the selection space it'll be there! Done. Works well enough--you can always crop a little more after taking the screenshot this way in case your selection was too big. Commented Mar 31, 2018 at 0:58
  • Thank you Gabriel Staples. "kind of weird" is putting it lightly! LOL! I love shutter and use it with all it's editing functions a lot and now I know a shutter cheat code. ;)
    – Jim
    Commented Oct 26, 2018 at 13:38

If you are running Ubuntu and prefer using the command line, gnome-screenshot should come pre-installed on the system and has some handy command line options (and you should be able to do everything you can do from the GUI via command line).

For instance, to take a screenshot with a delay of 5 seconds:

gnome-screenshot --delay 5

Run man gnome-screenshot for the full list of options, or view some examples in this blog post: 4 Methods to Take Screenshot Capture in Ubuntu Linux

  • It does not fill your "I want a solution that works with the default screenshot or screen capture tool that comes with my distro." requirement, but hopefully it helps someone out there.
    – IQAndreas
    Commented Jul 14, 2013 at 13:03

Lazy answer (for independent fast learners)

There's controversy regarding this situation.

Fast answer / workaround (for advanced ubuntu users)

  • Add a custom shortcut to the following command:
    gnome-screenshot --delay=numIntValueInSecs
    for example
    gnome-screenshot --delay=3
  • Add another one to take active window screenshots:
    gnome-screenshot -w --delay=3

    That's it, but I'd also recommend setting 2 others that would give you more time to navigate deeper in menus.

    • gnome-screenshot --delay=10
    • gnome-screenshot -w --delay=10

    screenshot of keyboard shortcut modification

Elaborate answer (go from novice to hacker)


Whenever you press PrntScr, all Ubuntu does is calling gnome-screenshot which is usually located on the /usr/bin/ path and available from the "terminal" (teletype, tty, cli, command line/prompt), so you can use it in all sorts of ways to fit your funky purposes.

The gnome-screenshot little program accepts optional parameters, you can see all options by passing the standard parameter to ask for help, you know the one (-h)

screenshot of gnome-screenshot help at terminal

If you're still not sure how to use this, you can always read a more detailed help, just ask for the manual typing man gnome-screenshot

screenshot of gnome-screenshot man page at terminal

The more you read full manuals, hacking ubuntu to fit your needs will become intuitive and you won't need other people to give you step by step instructions. Maybe by this point you even know how to make this workaround by yourself, if you're still lost (hopefully not), just keep reading...


  • Step Zero: Open Ubuntu's system settings and navigate to the Keyboard option:

screenshot of ubuntu's system settings menu highlighting keyboard


  1. Navigate to Shortcuts tab.
  2. Select Custom Shortcuts
  3. Hit the + button to add your new custom shortcut.
  4. Give a name and a command.
    (just like described on the "Fast Answer" above)
    4½. Assign the key combination you'd like.
  5. Close this window or it wont work.

screenshot of keyboard shortcut modification with step by step notes

You just took one further step to be an ubuntu master, I hope this answer was helpful *

  • Excellent! What I'd like to know now is why the gnome-screenshot interface was simplified and the delay removed. That would make it so much easier?! Commented Mar 4, 2018 at 2:13
  • You should probably ask the developers of gnome-screenshot, I personally don't know. Commented May 14, 2018 at 14:01

Install Kazam Screencaster by:

sudo apt install kazam

Kazam Screenshot

It's especially useful on Ubuntu 22 where delay feature from the default screenshot utility appears to be removed.

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