I am a big fan of Mate desktop. Simple and very functional.

But there one thing I'd address to the mate desktop: its screenshot utility is too poor.

The very single feature I miss there is being able to take a screenshot of only a part of the screen. It is apparently available with gnome-screenshot as from this post: What screenshot tools are available?

Is there any way I could replace mate-screenshot to gnome-screenshot?

I tried sudo apt-get install gnome-screenshot but then if I try to launch it, I have

▶ gnome-screenshot
** Message: Unable to use GNOME Shell's builtin screenshot interface, resorting to fallback X11.

Besides, I really need the shortcuts (the whole point is to achieve it in two clicks), so even if I get it working, I'll also need this.

FYI, I was using shutter earlier, but removed it because it was lacking the desktop shortcuts and sometimes very buggy (need to hard shutdown the system).


3 Answers 3


I resolved the same issue by adding the --interactive option

gnome-screenshot --interactive
  • 1
    or mate-screenshot --interactive
    – Searene
    Feb 21, 2018 at 13:21

Actually, mate-screenshot does have the utility you want, (see man mate-screenshot) so there's no need to install an extra package. In a terminal, you can use the -a flag

mate-screenshot -a

This turns the pointer into a cross-hair and you can click and drag to select the area you want to grab.

You can set a custom shortcut for it (for example shift+prt sc like gnome-screenshot) in:

System > Preferences > Hardware > Keyboard Shortcuts

click the + Add button to add a custom one.

You may well find that using the command mate-screenshot -a in the keyboard shortcut does not work, in which case you need to modify the command to call bash and set DISPLAY... First check the variable in a terminal:


and take note of the output. For me it's :0.0

Then use this command in the shortcut setting:

bash -c "DISPLAY=:0.0 mate-screenshot -a"

Replacing :0.0 to match the output from echo $DISPLAY

  • This solution does not work for me. the command works in a terminal but not as a shortcut. Any idea to help me ?
    – sangorys
    Feb 2, 2019 at 17:52
  • @sangorys did you try echo $DISPLAY and the second half of the answer?
    – Zanna
    Feb 2, 2019 at 18:39
  • Yes. The answer is :0 from the terminal and :0.0 from the shortcut. None of them are working ! :(
    – sangorys
    Feb 2, 2019 at 18:53
  • @sangorys So did you put in your shortcut assignment bash -c "DISPLAY=:0 mate-screenshot -a"?
    – Zanna
    Feb 2, 2019 at 18:56
  • yes indeed. And nothing works !
    – sangorys
    Feb 2, 2019 at 21:48

As @Zanna sais, mate-screenshot does have the availability of doing area screenshots.

But there is a well known bug (https://github.com/mate-desktop/mate-utils/issues/37) which makes the command with this option fail.

As mentioned in the comments, the solution is to slighly delay the command:

sleep 1
exec /usr/bin/mate-screenshot $@

within eg. /usr/local/bin/mate-screenshot and use it instead.

It changed my life, I keep using this feature now!

  • Looks too difficult. For which Ubuntu MATE version do you propose this solution? Why do not you want to use mate-screenshot -i instead?
    – N0rbert
    Dec 5, 2019 at 18:35
  • 1
    Oh no ! You have no idea how mate-screenshot -a is much UX friendly than -i. Press PrintScreen make a square, and that's it, you have the cropped screenshot you need. What seems so difficult with this? I'm using the latest version of Linux Mint but the bug is hard to solve hence is here to stay. Dec 5, 2019 at 18:53

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