(This article is meant for intermediate and advanced Linux users.)
To quickly make screenshots, I consider these popular screenshooter tools:
Because I use XFCE with Arch Linux, I prefer lightweight, fast tools, without loads of dependencies. I also like to autosave screenshots without bothering with questions and user dialog screens. In this blogpost, I will compare a few main features and test the speed of these two utilities. Note that there are many more screenshoters. The screen capture program maim is intended to improve on
scrot. While scrot is old, it is fast and gets the job done. Also there is a resurrecting project, which Arch uses. For XFCE users, xfce4-screenshooter is part of
The often recommended
shutter tool is less ideal for XFCE as it depends on
gnome-vfs in the AUR. The predecessor of
shutter was called
gscrot and was a perl-based frontend for
scrot. It seems
shutter still is such a frontend, and has a lot of
perl dependencies. I wanted to try it from AUR but got a build error in the
libwnck+ dependency, so I gave up because it seems
shutter does not satisfy my need for a tool with minimal depedencies for XFCE.
Both tools can grab the whole screen, the active screen (in focus), a custom part of the screen, and save the file. Only
xfce4-screenshooter can also copy the screenshot to the clipboard;
scrot has no option for that. For
scrot, that can be solved by using the
--exec option combined with the
xclip tool. An advantage of
scrot is that it can use modifyers for the output filename; so you can use the date and time and other variables in the filename. An advantage of
xfce4-screenshooter is the nice dialog it can show if no options are given on the command line.
Make a screenshot of the whole full screen.
xfce4-screenshooter --fullscreen scrot --multidisp
Make a screenshot of the active windows in focus.
xfce4-screenshooter --window scrot --focused --border
--border option for
scrot is optional; it includes the border drawn by the Windows Manager.
Select and store a custom region (rectangle).
xfce4-screenshooter --region scrot --select
Combined versions: for the active window; copy to clipboard, save to file.
xfce4-screenshooter --window --clipboard --save OUTPUT.png scrot --focused --border --exec 'xclip -selection clipboard -target image/png -in $f' OUTPUT.png
The last example above, the combined versions, were tested using
xfce4-screenshooter took 0.39 seconds on the 2nd run; the
scrot version took 0.10 seconds on the second run. (I tested it for the second run to include caching effects. The first match was also won by
scrot is the winner for quick, no-dialog scenarios.
My preferred command
Let’s copy the screenshot itself to the clipboard, and the filename to the “primary” buffer“. To learn more about”primary” and “clipboard”, see clipboards-spec and this question. Also
scrot’s ability to include variables in the output filename, and it being desktop agnostic, makes it perfect for automated use.
scrot --focused --border --exec 'xclip -selection clipboard -target image/png -in $f; echo -n "$f" | xclip -selection primary' '%Y-%m-%dT%H.%M.%S_screenshot.png'
Even better would be to include the window title of the active window, but that would complicate matters as you need to filter out illegal characters and so forth. Still it can be done in a reasonable manner:
xdotool getwindowfocus getwindowname | tr -c '\40\60-\71\101-\132\141-\172' '_'
To have the full experience, I decided to use a shellscript. See screenshot.sh (click on the link to download).
#!/bin/sh STORE="/home/evert/Pictures/screenshots" EMAIL="firstname.lastname@example.org" # ------------- # Makes screenshots, optionally mails them. # Evert Mouw, 2019-12-27 DEPENDENCIES="scrot xclip xfce4-screenshooter notify-send mail" for D in $DEPENDENCIES; do if ! which $D > /dev/null; then echo "$D not found" exit 1 fi done if ! [ -d "$STORE" ]; then MSG="$STORE is not a directory." echo "$MSG" notify-send --icon=error "screenshooter" "$MSG" exit 1 fi if ! [ -w "$STORE" ]; then MSG="$STORE is not writable!" echo "$MSG" notify-send --icon=error "screenshooter" "$MSG" exit 1 fi FG=$(xdotool getwindowfocus getwindowname | tr -cs '\60-\71\101-\132\141-\172' '_' | cut -c 1-33) ME="$(whoami)@$(hostname -s)" case $1 in region|select) OPTIONS="--select --freeze --line style=dash,width=3" OUTNAME="$STORE/%Y-%m-%dT%H.%M.%S_$FG.part" break ;; active|focused) OPTIONS="--focused --border" OUTNAME="$STORE/%Y-%m-%dT%H.%M.%S_$FG" break ;; fullscreen|full) OPTIONS="--multidisp" OUTNAME="$STORE/%Y-%m-%dT%H.%M.%S_$ME.full" break ;; custom) xfce4-screenshooter exit 0 break ;; *) echo "Whut?" exit 1 esac scrot $OPTIONS --exec 'xclip -selection clipboard -target image/png -in $f; echo -n "$f" | xclip -selection primary' "$OUTNAME.png" if [ "$?" -ne "0" ]; then MSG="Some error occurred.\nOUTNAME=$OUTNAME\nACTION=$1" echo -e "$MSG" notify-send --icon=warn "screenshooter" "$MSG" exit 1 fi OUTFILE=$(xclip -selection primary -out) notify-send --icon=info "screenshooter" "Screenshot saved as $OUTFILE" case $2 in '') # silently ignore break ;; mail) echo "Screenshot" | mail -s screenshot -a "$OUTFILE" $EMAIL break ;; *) echo "2nd argument not recognized" exit 1 esac
I propose to use the same keyboard shortcuts as the free, open source Greenshot tool for Windows. In addition, I use the Super key (Windows key) to launch a custom dialog.
- region: PrnScn
- window: Alt-PrnScn
- fullscreen: Ctl-PrnScn
- custom: Super-PrnScn
To keep consistency, I personally set the same keyboard shortcuts in XFCE.
xfconf-query --create --channel xfce4-keyboard-shortcuts --property "/commands/custom/Print" --type string --set "sh -c 'sleep 0.1 && /home/evert/bin/screenshot.sh region'" xfconf-query --create --channel xfce4-keyboard-shortcuts --property "/commands/custom/<Alt>Print" --type string --set "/home/evert/bin/screenshot.sh active" xfconf-query --create --channel xfce4-keyboard-shortcuts --property "/commands/custom/<Ctl>Print" --type string --set "/home/evert/bin/screenshot.sh full" xfconf-query --create --channel xfce4-keyboard-shortcuts --property "/commands/custom/<Super>Print" --type string --set "/home/evert/bin/screenshot.sh custom"
To see currently assigned PrnSrn keys:
xfconf-query -c xfce4-keyboard-shortcuts -lv | grep -i Print
This works for me. For a discussion on screenshooters, see e.g. on the forum of Linux Mint.