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How do I take a screenshot in Debian?

Using Gnome

Gnome has built-in capability to make a screenshot (package gnome-utils). Simply press:

More options are available in "Gnome Application Menu/Accessories/Take Screenshot" (like delayed screen shot).

Using KDE

KDE Plasma should be able to capture a screenshot on most normal setups using package kde-spectacle, included with almost all of Debian's KDE metapackages and tasks. In this case:

Using Xfce

The xfce4-screenshooter is an utility for the Xfce Desktop Environment that can be used to take snapshots of your desktop screen. A panel plugin is provided too.

The xfce4-screenshooter application allows you to capture the entire screen, the active window or a selected region. You can set the delay that elapses before the screenshot is taken and the action that will be done with the screenshot: save it to a PNG file, copy it to the clipboard, open it using another application, or host it on ZimageZ, a free online image hosting service.

You can also use the commandline to take screenshot more quickly with xfce4-screenshooter.

Using command line

Just open a graphical terminal and type:

The command xwd is a standard xorg tool, which creates a pnm file. You can then use imagemagick 's convert, or netpbm 's xwdtopnm tool.

Similarly the screenshot of a single window can be obtained by not specifying a target window to xwd:

the mouse pointer then becomes a crosshair and the user must click on the desired window.

Similar results can be obtained combining the xwininfo utility in x11-utils with imagemagick 's import; first run xwininfo and it will prompt the user to click on the desired window. xwininfo output will start with a line similar to:

which contains the ID for that Window (0x1600077 in this example).

To capture a screenshot of that window, use the "import" command passing the window ID in its "-window" option:

The above command will create a .jpg file, but other file formats are available.

To capture a screenshot of the whole desktop (with a 5 seconds delay) use this command:

A powerful alternative tool is scrot, which can directly save files as png (and other formats), and generate a filename. See scrot(1).

Console / Xterm

Rather that making a graphical snapshot of the console/command line or X-window terminal, it's usually better to copy the actual text content (select the region with a mouse).


To you use the mouse on the Console screen, you need to install gpm (run apt-get install gpm).

Advanced tip: if you don't want to use a text editor, you can run cat > /tmp/outfile.txt, then paste the content using middle-button, then press Ctrl-D (once).


If your system is using framebuffer (vga=XXX kernel argument, etc.), you can use fbgrab to capture and convert the framebuffer content.

Hint: If fbgrab isn't installed when you want to capture the screen, you can use cp /dev/fb0 screen.raw, then use fbgrab -f screen.raw -w 1024 -h 768 -b 16 screen.png.

Other Tools

Debian provides some other (advanced) tools to make screenshot, including gimp.

Debian Installer GUI screenshots

DebianInstaller's GUI has a take "Screenshot" button.

To fetch the captured screen :

If you complete the installation, the screenshots can also be found in the directory /var/log/installer/ (after the reboot into the installed system).

License of screenshots

Screenshots are considered as derivative works (according to SPI legal counsel), see

See Also