Native screen shots on Windows suck but there is a free and open source solution to better mimic the Linux desktop experience on Microsoft's flagship.

Windows' native Snipping Tool is clunky and has limited options. More so, its extremely annoying with its pop-up editing window. Tools are only as useful as they are unobtrusive and the native option seems to be as obtrusive as possible. Snippy is almost on that Clippy level; older PC users will know what that means!

By comparison, Ubuntu MATE includes the mate-screenshot tool and its a dream of a utility for those who want to get work done and get it done quickly.

We love using, per manpages:

mate-screenshot -a

Our Linux machines here at (and our home machines too) use this command in conjuncture with a specially assigned shortcut key combination. We assign a custom shortcut right next to the PrtScn button for immediacy and familiarity. Your key might be slightly different but on basic keyboards its the Scroll Lock key. We use (Ctrl-Alt-Scroll Lock) as the combo.

Assigning Windows shortcut keys can be a nightmare for the average user and we don't suggest noobs poking around in the glory that is the Windows registry. Some keystrokes cannot be customized if Windows already has a default combination (such as Ctrl-Alt-Del aka taskmgr.exe).

You can suffer through Windows with the Snippy tool, cringe with the Outlook Insert version or use browser plugins such as Nimbus (which we used for years on Windows) or Lightshot or even Firefox's own Test Pilot add-on Page Shot (which was incompatible with the priceless Self-Destructing Cookies add-on at the time of this writing).

But a browser screen snipping tool ignores other programs.

Enter Greenshot:

On Windows, this tool will replace your PrtScn key shortcut with a screen grabber that includes a bubble magnifier to grab anything visible on the screen. 

Greenshot comes complete with own executable which assigns the new shortcut, includes a large options menu via the taskbar icon tray and has various preferences and plugin settings. But it gets out of the way and copies straight to the clipboard and most importantly is free and open source software. Source code is available on github and bitbucket. Greenshot is licensed under GPL v2.

If you are tired of paying [needlessly] proprietary software companies like Microsoft and Apple thousands of dollars for tools that suck (and spy on you) or you're just an individual who's had enough and are ready to make the switch to Linux PLEASE comment below or contract directly. We want to help you embrace freedom.

After all, following Jamais Cascio, "Software, like all technologies, is inherently political. Code inevitably reflects the choices, biases and desires of its creators."


About the Writer
Chris Lessley
Author: Chris Lessley
A server admin, dev ops warrior and website designer since 2002, Chris is a lover of all things Linux and open-source! Each blog topic has been tested by fire in the real world and shared with the hope to help others. Need more help? Hire me! Chris' other interests include fine art and the humanities in the classical tradition and can be found writing for our friends over at If you like this content, kindly consider donating to keep this website free to all, without ads.

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