Is it possible to get a screenshot of the entire desktop directly in Mathematica?

I am on Ubuntu running Mathematica 8. For some reason GUIScreenShot[] fails. But something like GUIScreenShot[{{0, 500}, {0, 500}}] works

It is strange that in the reference


is given as an example (last one), with the caption Capture the entire screen:. But when I copy it and paste it in a notebook, it expects a parameter! (I have included the code Needs["GUIKit`"])

I get the error as shown in this image

Screenshot of the image

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    $\begingroup$ I am trying to automate a simple game (!). So grabbing it using an external program, then saving it as a file and importing the file again from within Mathematica is a tedious job (if not realtime). Also I am not sure if I can pipe the output of a program as input to Mathematica (I could not find a way to get it done with Run[] command! - i.e. the piping large output from external program) $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 11, 2012 at 23:16
  • $\begingroup$ GUIScreenShot[] works here (Win XP) $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 11, 2012 at 23:34
  • $\begingroup$ GUIScreenShot[] doesn't work for me (Arch Linux), it spits this error message on the terminal. Looks like a Linux issue... $\endgroup$
    – Renan
    Commented Aug 12, 2012 at 0:14
  • $\begingroup$ It works fine on my win7_x64 and mma8.0.4 (although a syntax indicator). Didn't know this function before. Very helpful! Thanks and +1! $\endgroup$
    – Silvia
    Commented Aug 12, 2012 at 6:52
  • $\begingroup$ GUIScreenShot[] works in version 7 under Windows 7. $\endgroup$
    – Mr.Wizard
    Commented Aug 12, 2012 at 7:55

5 Answers 5


GUIScreenShot[] (without arguments) works perfectly fine on my Mac, although the front end syntax highlighter indicates a missing argument. As a workaround, you can explicitly give it the dimensions of your screen so that all of it is captured. Here's how you can programmatically get your screen size and use it:

GUIScreenShot["FullScreenArea" /. Flatten@SystemInformation["Devices", "ScreenInformation"]]
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    $\begingroup$ This does not seem to work on Ubuntu .. Can any1 confirm this ... $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 12, 2012 at 0:58
  • $\begingroup$ @myaccount_ram I'm having the same problem, but with Arch Linux. $\endgroup$
    – Renan
    Commented Aug 12, 2012 at 4:00
  • $\begingroup$ @myaccount_ram It doesn't work on Fedora. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 12, 2012 at 7:34
  • $\begingroup$ I got ** Raster data contains 0 values per pixel; 3 or 4 are required with ColorFunction->RGBColor** under Linux 64. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 12, 2012 at 20:39
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    $\begingroup$ @everyone: The issue seems to be something related to linux and not Mathematica. I would've helped if I could, but I don't have a license to use on my Linux machine. $\endgroup$
    – rm -rf
    Commented Aug 13, 2012 at 1:53

In v11.2 you can just use CurrentScreenImage[].


A method from Kuba's answer, no GUIKit` is needed. Tested on Mathematica 10.1.

Module[{masknb, img},
       masknb = CreateWindow[{}, WindowSize -> Full, Visible -> False];
       img = MathLink`CallFrontEnd[FrontEnd`NotebookImage[masknb]];

We can even make a fairly fast screen recorder from it:

maskWindow[width_, height_, leftMarg_, topMarg_] :=
        WindowSize -> {width, height},
        WindowMargins -> {{leftMarg, Automatic}, {topMarg, 0}},
        Visible -> False]

screenSnapshot[window_] := 

screenRecord = {};
recordingFlag = True;
        "Click to stop recording:",
            {True -> Framed["Recording"], False -> Framed["Stopped  "]}

        masknb = maskWindow[500, 300, 300, 200];
            screenRecord = Join[screenRecord, {screenSnapshot[masknb]}]
screenRecord = Image /@ screenRecord;

MMA screen recorder

  • $\begingroup$ Extremely Fast!!!!! Very impressive answer~ xie xie la~ but still, are there faster methods? $\endgroup$
    – Wjx
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 14:25
  • $\begingroup$ @Wjx Thanks! For better performance, I'd go win API + NETLink. $\endgroup$
    – Silvia
    Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 8:51

Confirming @R.M's answer (WinXP, Mac OSX 10.8)

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ why not a comment? Also, why are you hiding your porn tabs? ;) $\endgroup$
    – rm -rf
    Commented Aug 11, 2012 at 23:44
  • $\begingroup$ @rm -rf The porn tabs are there ... look again $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 11, 2012 at 23:45
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    $\begingroup$ @belisarius Nest[GUIScreenShot[], "", 10] $\endgroup$
    – s0rce
    Commented Aug 12, 2012 at 3:29
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    $\begingroup$ @belisarius It's not a Droste effect until it is. $\endgroup$
    – rm -rf
    Commented Aug 12, 2012 at 11:57
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    $\begingroup$ The Droste Effect: Dynamic[Export["C:\\droste.png", GUIScreenShot[]]; Style[GUIScreenShot[], Magnification -> 1], UpdateInterval -> 3]. When the Dynamic object is not visible, it is not updated (it is sufficient just to reduce the Mathematica window). $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 12, 2012 at 18:33

Using JLink,you can do this

robotclass = JavaNew["java.awt.Robot"];
screenSize = Toolkit`getDefaultToolkit[]@getScreenSize[];
image = robotclass@createScreenCapture[JavaNew["java.awt.Rectangle", 0, 0, screenSize@width, screenSize@height]];
ImageIO`write[image, "png",JavaNew["java.io.File", FileNameJoin[{Directory[], "test.png"}]]];


enter image description here


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