Taking Screen Captures on the Linux Desktop with Shutter

I am a camera

I am a cameraOnce upon a time, just about the only people who took screen captures were technical communicators and technology writers. Nowadays, it seems that everyone needs to grab a window or screen on their desktop. Which is why, I guess, the number of screen capture tools available for various operating systems has blossomed over the years.

If you use Linux, then you suffer an embarrassment of riches when it comes to screen capture software. One of the most useful and flexible screen capture applications for the Linux desktop is Shutter.

Let’s take a closer look at how to use Shutter.

Installing Shutter

Chances are you don’t have Shutter installed on your computer. You can download source code and packages for various distributions.

If you use Ubuntu, then you can install Shutter from a Personal Package Archive. To do that, open a terminal window and run the following commands:

 sudo add-apt-repository ppa:shutter/ppa sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install shutter 

Once Shutter is installed, you can launch it from a menu. For example, in Ubuntu select Applications > Accessories > Shutter.

Shutter main window

Getting Going

Using Shutter, you can grab the following:

  • Your entire desktop
  • A single window
  • An area that you select
  • A menu
  • A tool tip
  • A web page

Buttons for each of these options are on the application’s toolbar. When you minimize Shutter, its icon sits on a panel. You can choose an option by right clicking the Shutter icon.

Shutter right-click menu

The first two screen capture options — entire desktop and single window — pretty much explain themselves.

A captured window

To grab a portion of the screen, click the Selection button on the toolbar. Then, click and drag your mouse to select what you want to capture. When you’re done, press Enter on your keyboard.

Capturing a tooltip (the text that often appears when you hold your mouse over a button in an application) or a menu is probably only useful if you’re preparing documentation. You just have to remember to keep displaying the tooltip or menu for a few seconds before it’s captured.

Taking a screen capture of a web page works a little differently. When you click the Web button on the toolbar, a dialog box pops up. If you have a URL on your clipboard, Shutter assumes that’s the web page that you want to capture. You can also type a URL in the dialog box. Then, click the Capture button.

Capturing a website

This option doesn’t work with some websites. The capture process will sometimes time out, often without any rhyme or reason.

Editing Your Screen Captures

I usually like my screen capture software to do one thing and one thing only: take screen captures (obviously). If I want to manipulate screen captures, I can do that in an actual graphics program like The GIMP. But I make an exception for Shutter. Why? Its image editing tools, while limited, can be useful.

When you need to edit a screen capture, click the Edit button on the toolbar. You don’t get tools to resize, crop, rotate, or otherwise manipulate an image. You can add text, lines, callouts, and shapes to a screen capture. You can also highlight portions of a capture, or censor portions of an image to hide personal information.

Censoring private information

Final Thoughts

Shutter is a very flexible screen capture tool. I find it to be almost indispensable in my day-to-day work. It’s easy to use and has the features that I need (and a few that I find myself needing occasionally).

If you find yourself taking a large number of screen captures on the Linux desktop, then you should definitely give Shutter a look. It’s a worthy addition to your stable of applications.

Photo credit: Adorama

How To Take Screenshots On An iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad

Writing guides like we do here at Techerator often involves screenshots of software, settings, or anything else pertinent to the article at hand.  We’ve previously covered taking screenshots of your Android device, but what about your iOS device?  Fear not, for that’s what I’m about to show you.

Taking a screenshot of your iOS device is quite easy and doesn’t involve the use of any extra software.  Once you are on the screen you wish to capture, press and hold the top Power button while simultaneously pressing the front Home screen button.

Your screen will flash and will make a shutter sound indicating the screenshot was saved. Screenshots are saved into the Saved Pictures folder in Photos.

That’s it!  Let us know if you have any questions by commenting below.

Improve Windows Print Screen With Gadwin PrintScreen

Windows includes only the most basic screen capture capabilities by default, but free software like Gadwin PrintScreen offers a solution that will add much more functionality to your computer.

Using Gadwin PrintScreen

Once you have downloaded and installed Gadwin PrintScreen, right click the newly created icon in your system tray and select Properties… from the menu.  Here you can see all of the options that are available for Gadwin PrintScreen.

Gadwin allows you to change the hot key used to activate the program.  Although this can be changed to a different key or keystroke, you will want it set to the PrintScreen button if you wish to replace the Windows screen capture function.

Unlike the Windows screen capture, Gadwin PrintScreen allows you to specify the capture source such as a full screen, a program window, or a rectangular area of  your screen.

If using the Rectangular Area capture method, the Zoom window shown below will appear when the hot key button is pushed.  Moving the mouse will move the cross-hair and change the contents of the Zoom window accordingly.  Once you have found where to start your rectangle, left-click and hold while you move the cross-hair across the screen to draw your rectangular area, releasing when you are finished.  Press Enter on your keyboard and the rectangular area you drew will be captured.

Gadwin PrintScreen allows you to save your captured images in a way that works best for you.  A nice feature is the ability to automatically save you screen capture as a file.

Gadwin also allows you to save your screen captures in any of the standard image file formats.  Another feature is the ability to add a ‘Stamp’ to the corner of you image.  Content of the stamp can include custom text, date, and time.

Below is an example of a custom stamp from a Gadwin PrintScreen screen capture.

Although Gadwin PrintScreen may not offer as many features as other popular screen capture software, it does offer a vast improvement over the Windows screen capture feature.

Gadwin PrintScreen is available as free (and paid) software for all versions of Windows.

Let us know about your favorite screen capture program by commenting below.

How to Take Screenshots of an Android-based Phone

android-trimmesSince I’ll be writing about the Motorola Droid (which uses Google’s Android mobile operating system) in the upcoming weeks, I wanted to be able to perform screen captures directly from the device instead of taking photographs of the entire thing.  This guide will walk you through the simple process of taking screenshots of an Android-based phone.

Step One: Download and extract the Android SDK for your operating system.  SDK stands for Software Development Kit, and is what developers use to design Android software on a PC.

Extracting the files is all you have to do – you don’t actually have to install anything for this to work.

Note: You also need to have Java JDK installed (not just JRE which is more common).  More information can be found on the Android SDK requirements page.

Step Two: On your Android-based phone, go to Settings –> Applications –> Development and enable USB debugging.  When you’ve enabled debugging, connect your phone to the computer.

In my case, I had to install additional Motorola USB drivers for my phone to be properly recognized in debugging mode, even though it worked fine before I enabled it.

Step Three: In the folder where you extracted the Android SDK files, open the tools folder and run ddms.bat.  This will launch the Dalvik Debug Monitor, and if your phone is connected properly you should see it in the list of devices as shown below.

android-screen-capture-ddmsStep Four: To take a picture of your current screen, select your device in the list and click Device –> Screen Capture. You’ll then see a high resolution screenshot of your device’s screen!