I am really picky about my operating systems, and often find myself in a situation where I’m not satisfied with using Linux, macOS, or Windows. This is mostly my own fault, and the subject for a different blog post entirely. Development on my laptop (a 2015 Macbook Air running macOS Sierra) and development on my home desktop (Ubuntu 16.04 with i3wm) are two different beasts. Generally, I prefer the setup I have on my desktop, but screenshots are one front where macOS blows Linux out of the water. A user on AskUbuntu posted about just this, I’ve made some small modifications and would like to share.

Setting Up

We’ll need a few things for the script to work properly:

  • scrot
  • imagemagick (for convert)
  • libnotify-bin (for notify-send, not needed if you don’t want the notification)

On Ubuntu, do a simple apt-get install scrot imagemagick libnotify-bin. Substitute for your applicable package manager if you use a different flavor of Linux.

With those installed, grab the shell script here. It would be wise to place it somewhere in your PATH so you can call it in a terminal without providing an absolute path. Here’s the contents, which you might need to tweak a bit:

# dropshadow.sh



# drop shadow: 60% opacity, 10 sigma, +0x +10y
convert "${FILE}" \( +clone -background black -shadow 60x10+0+10 \) +swap -background transparent -layers merge +repage "$SCREENSHOTFOLDER/${FILEBASE}.png"

notify-send -u low -t 2 "${FILEBASE}.png saved."

rm "$FILE" #remove this line to preserve original image

Be sure to make the script executable with chmod +x /path/to/dropshadow.sh. Open the script in your preferred text editor.


Firstly, configure SCREENSHOTFOLDER to a path which you’d like the screenshots to be saved to. Make sure that the directory already exists.

If you’d like you can configure the drop shadow. There are a few parameters to tweak, and the comment on line 29 might make the syntax slightly clearer:

  • The opacity value is a percentage integer value from 0 to 100, 0 being totally transparent, and 100 being totally opaque
  • The sigma value is an integer value, essentially the level of blur. 0 is a “hard shadow”, and increasing values make the shadow “softer”.
  • The last two values represent x and y offsets: positive x moves the shadow rightwards, and positive y moves the shadow downwards.

You can read the imagemagick documentation for more information on the drop shadow syntax.

By default, the script uses notify-send to send a notification to your window manager, with a low priority and a 2 second expiration. I did this because often the convert process takes a second or two. Remove or comment this line if you’d like to disable this.

Running the Script

Now that the script is configured, run it by doing:

scrot -szb -e 'dropshadow.sh $f'

If the script isn’t in your PATH like I mentioned earlier, you’ll need to add it’s path to the argument, for example:

scrot -szb -e '/home/myuser/scripts/dropshadow.sh $f'

Either single-click on a window you’d like to save, or click and drag a region to save. scrot handles both cases. Once you’ve got that working, you’ll probably want to add a keyboard shortcut. I’m using i3wm, but you might not - so this process will be different depending on your window manager. If you’re using GNOME, you can try this. Otherwise, just hit up Google and I’m sure there will be a million answers for your use case.

In mine, I edit ~/.config/i3/config and add a single line:

bindsym --release $mod+Shift+s exec scrot -szb -e 'dropshadow.sh $f'

And reload the configuration. Screenshot away!

screenshot with shadow