How to take screenshots on Ubuntu? 4 different methods

Old wisdom says a picture is worth a thousand words. The idea behind it is that the information conveyed by watching something is much more effective than listening or reading a description.

Screenshots are a stylish aid to have on your side, especially if you’re trying to explain a complex topic. This guide will cover all the different ways to take screenshots on Ubuntu. So, without further ado, let’s dive into …

1. Take screenshots using keyboard shortcuts

Manual Ubuntu screenshots are the default and generally the preferred method of screen clipping due to their simplicity. If you are not using Ubuntu for heavy tasks like photo manipulation or video editing then this will probably be the most suitable method for you too.

There are different ways to manually capture a screen on Ubuntu. Let’s take them all down one by one.

Take a screenshot of the entire screen

Just press the Screenshot on your keyboard to capture a clip of the entire screen. The screenshot will be automatically saved in the Pictures phone book.

Capture a specific area in Ubuntu

You might find yourself in situations where you just need to capture a specific section of the entire screen — maybe a dialog box, something specific on your browser, etc.

In such cases, press Change and Screenshot together to capture the screenshot.

Take a screenshot of the current window

Let’s face it. If you are much like the normal, distracted 21st century computer scientist, you might have several tabs open on your browser right now.

If you only want to capture the current window open on your browser, as opposed to all the multiple tabs you have open on your screen, press Alt + Print screen together. As with all screenshots, Ubuntu will save the image to the Pictures default directory.

Capture and save screenshots to clipboard

This method is useful when you want to use screenshots in another way — whether in a document or perhaps in an email. Ubuntu will save the image to the clipboard, then you can paste the screenshot anywhere you like.

You can take all of the different approaches to taking screenshots that we talked about above — whether it’s a full window screen clip, a screenshot of a specific area only or something else — just adding a slight adjustment. Here’s a quick rundown of all the different ways:

  • Capture the entire screen and save it to the clipboard: Ctrl + Print Screen

  • Copy the screenshot of a specific region to the clipboard: Shift + Ctrl + Print Screen

  • Save the screenshot of the current window to the clipboard: Ctrl + Alt + Print Screen

2. Using the Ubuntu screenshot app

For various reasons, some people just don’t like to use keyboard shortcuts. If you’re one of those people, you can still do your job with the default Ubuntu screenshot app called Screen Capture.

To get started, go to Applications menu and type screenshot in the search bar. Then select the best match to open the Screenshot app. Select the types of screenshots you want and follow the instructions to wrap up.

launch the default ubuntu screenshot app

One thing that gives this method the upper hand is that you get more control over how you want to take a screenshot. You’ll get a bunch of different features and effects that you don’t normally get with keyboard shortcuts.

There is an option to delay a screenshot after clicking on it, a possibility to include pointers and a feature to apply different effects like drop shadow, vintage and even borders.

3. Take screenshots on Ubuntu through the terminal

We understand if you are fat on the terminal. Once you realize the power of the command line, how can you go back to the old GUI? Open the terminal with Ctrl + Alt + T and enter the following command:


Hit Enter and the terminal will capture the screenshot of the entire screen. However, note that this command will capture the terminal window with the screen clip. If you don’t want to, you’ll need to delay the screenshot process for a few seconds, while minimizing the terminal window.

You can add a delay to the screenshot using the -re flag.

gnome-screenshot -d 3

Here, -re means Delay, and the number 3 is the number of seconds you want to delay the screenshot.

take ubuntu screenshot with terminal

But, if you only want to capture the current window, use this command:

gnome-screenshot -w

For a slight variation, type the following command and you will have a border around your screenshot:

gnome-screenshot -w -b

4. Take screenshots on Ubuntu with third party applications

If you have tried all the methods mentioned above and you are still not impressed, then taking screenshots using third-party tools is your last resort.

Now don’t worry, you won’t have to pay anything. Thanks to the open source culture of the Linux community, there are tons of free options to choose from.

There are a bunch of Ubuntu screenshot tools available, but two apps stand out as the best. The first is Shutter, and the second is Gimp. Here is how you can use them.

Capture screenshots with Gimp

Before you continue, note that GIMP has a lot of advanced features and therefore comes with a steep learning curve. So, it’s only a good idea to use GIMP if you have advanced editing needs.

Go to Ubuntu software, search for GIMP and install it from there. The system will ask for your password for verification. Installing GIMP on your system will take a few seconds.

When finished, click on the Launch possibility to open the application. To select File> Create> Screenshot to take the screen clip.

capture ubuntu screenshots with gimp

Use the shutter to take screenshots

To install Shutter, go to the Ubuntu software app, find Shutter and click Install.

install a shutter on ubuntu

Alternatively, you can install it through the terminal. But first, you will need to add the official PPA shutter to your system using the add-apt-repository command:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:linuxuprising/shutter

download shutter with terminal

Now update your system’s repository list and install the Shutter app:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt install shutter

The system will start installing Shutter on your computer in a few seconds.

Related: How to Take and Edit Screenshots in Ubuntu Using Shutter

Take high quality screenshots on Ubuntu

And that’s it, guys. Hope one of these methods helped you take screenshots on Ubuntu and get your job done. But don’t stop now. There is a lot to learn about Ubuntu and the Linux operating system in general.

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