Raspberry Pi OS: Best Ways To Capture Screenshots (Pro tips)


A screenshot tool on a computer looks like a basic tool that should come preinstalled on any operating system. Well, on Raspberry Pi OS there is nothing installed by default, so you have to find one by yourself. I do a lot of screenshots for the tutorials on this website, so I’ll share my favorites with you in this article.

This list is based on my experience and the features I like and use. It’s not meant to be exhaustive or to be sorted in a specific order. Check the list quickly and try the one(s) that look(s) interesting to you.

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Gnome-screenshot

Gnome-screenshot is the default tool that comes with the Gnome desktop environment. You may have already used it on Ubuntu or Debian.

I like it because it’s simple, doesn’t require a ton of dependencies, and is enough in most cases.

You can install it via the package manager (“Add/remove software”), or simply use APT from a terminal:
sudo apt install gnome-screenshot

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Once installed, Gnome-screenshot is available in the main menu, under Accessories > Screenshot.
The tool’s main window looks like:

So, you have 3 main features:

  • Screen: capture the whole screen.
  • Window: capture the currently active window (so you don’t have to edit the picture afterward to remove the background and menus).
  • Selection: you select an area on your screen, and it will only capture this selection.

Then you can choose to include the mouse pointer or not, or you can delay the capture for a few seconds (useful to change the active window or open a menu, for example).

Click on “Take screenshot” to start the screen capture.

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Once the screenshot is taken, another window will show up, asking where to save the file. You can also use “copy to clipboard” to paste it into another app (LibreOffice Writer or any image editing tool, for example).

Note: RPI OS is running with a custom version of LXDE by default, but there is no tool for LXDE.

This is why I use the Gnome alternative, but most desktop environments have similar tools available. For example: xfce4-screenshooter, mate-utils or kde-spectacle are also available in the default repository.

I just find that Gnome-screenshot works well and doesn’t require a ton of dependencies.

Kazam

Kazam is an interesting tool to take screenshots on Linux. It comes with more features than the default options, like the possibility to record videos in addition to static images.

So, if you need a bit more than the options available in Gnome-screenshot, but still want something pretty simple, it might be a good choice (especially if you’re interested in video recordings).

It’s also available in the default repository on Raspberry Pi and most distributions:
sudo apt install kazam

Once installed, the shortcut to start it is available in the main menu, under “Sound & Video”:

At first glance, the interface looks similar to the previous tool, with the addition of the “Screencast” feature. But you’ll also find a few configurable options in the menu. Nothing essential, but you can for example choose to save automatically the files under a specific folder (won’t be asking each time), change the file’s prefix, or enable/disable a capture sound.

Even if there are more features, I find it a bit less intuitive. For example, if you screenshot an area, you have to make the selection first, press “Enter” to confirm and finally click on “Capture” to save the picture.

I guess you get used to it, but if, like me, you take 30 screenshots a day, it’s not necessarily the best experience.

Flameshot

Flameshot is probably the most advanced tool for screen capture on Linux. It comes with all the features you might need, has a great interface, and works really well on Raspberry Pi.

I used it a few years ago when I had Ubuntu on my laptop, so I’m pretty familiar with it and glad to see it’s available directly in the Raspberry Pi OS repository.

You can use the “Add/Remove Software” tool to install it on your system:

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Or use the command line if you prefer:
sudo apt install flameshot

Once installed, you’ll find it under the “Graphics” submenu in the main menu (I know, it looks like each tool is placed in a different submenu).

When you start the app, it won’t show you a traditional window like the previous tools. It will only add a shortcut in the top bar, near the clock and network icons:

When you click on this shortcut, you’ll have a few keyboard shortcuts available to tell you what you want to do. For example, you can select an area with your mouse or press Enter to capture the whole screen.

That’s only then that the magic happens, with all the features showing up.
For example, once an area is selected, a bunch of tools appear on your screen:

Each purple icon is a different feature (pencil, line, arrow, text, etc.) and you have the “Tool settings” button on the left where you can change the color, font, etc.

In this second screenshot, you can see I used a few tools, and you can see an overview of the tool settings on the left. Each added element can be configured separately. It’s almost as if you have an image editor available when you take the screenshot.

Once done, you can save the file locally or upload it directly to an image hosting service (so you can share the link directly).

It’s really a powerful tool. If you are interested in all these features, I highly recommend testing them. But I understand it might be confusing, so it’s OK if you prefer the previous, simpler options (that’s why I didn’t put it first).

Scrot

Scrot is the only option in this list that is preinstalled on Raspberry Pi OS. It’s only available in the command line, but it’s what makes the “Prnt Screen” key on your keyboard work by default.

It can be useful in scripts or if you use your Raspberry Pi remotely via SSH.

Here is how it works:

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So, the main command syntax is:
scrot <output>
For example:
scrot test.jpg

Warning: If you try to use it via SSH, you need to specify the display, or you’ll get this error:
“Can’t open X display. It is running, yeah? [NULL]”

Set the DISPLAY variable with:
export DISPLAY=:0
Then run the scrot command again:
scrot test2.jpg
It should work now.

In most cases, the default syntax is enough. You just need to tell scrot where to save the pictures. But feel free to check the man page for additional options:
man scrot

You can, for example, specify a delay, the image quality, select an area, freeze the screen, etc.

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Bonus: Remote access and HDMI capture

To be honest, these tools are great if you use Raspberry Pi as your main device. In my case, I write the tutorial on my laptop and have the Raspberry Pi running on the side to test the steps I’m referring to.

Taking screenshots on Raspberry Pi OS means I have to save them on the Pi, transfer them to the laptop and probably edit them with a tool like Photoshop. It’s a waste of time, so I only do this if I don’t have any other choice (maybe no network on the Pi, for example).

In most cases, I use two other options:

  • Remote access: On Raspberry Pi OS, I enable VNC and SSH, and use these protocols to control the Pi interface from my computer. I can then take screenshots with the tool I have on my laptop (more about this below).
  • Video capture: I also have a device that can be plugged into the HDMI output on the Raspberry Pi, and record the video stream on my laptop (I use this device on Amazon).

For remote access, I have installed Lightshot on my computer. I use Windows, and this tool is great for me. There aren’t as many features as with Flameshot, but it’s enough for me (area, arrow, text, etc.). You can create your own shortcuts, so it’s very convenient.

For video capture, the device can be plugged in via USB, and I use OBS Studio to record the video stream or take screenshots. It’s free and it works pretty well (by the way, it’s possible to install it on Raspberry Pi, you can find my tutorial here).

I know, these are not tools for Raspberry Pi OS, but I use Raspberry Pi OS almost every day, and these are the apps I use, so I thought it was worth it to include them in this article anyway. Whatever your choice, I hope this article was helpful.

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Patrick Fromaget

I'm the lead author and owner of RaspberryTips.com. My goal is to help you with your Raspberry Pi problems using detailed guides and tutorials. In real life, I'm a Linux system administrator with a web developer experience.

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