How to take 16:9 Screenshots

A few people contacted me after discovering that screenshots should be taken in a 16:9 aspect ratio. The question was basically, how do I do that?

After trying to do this myself for my applications, I too discovered it’s hard. The wmctrl command doesn’t seem to play very nicely with CSD, and certainly won’t work in wayland. So, Owen Taylor (GNOME hacker extraordinaire) to the rescue.

Owen wrote a GNOME Shell extension (which I’ve modified a little) which resizes the current window to a 16:9 size when you press Ctrl+Alt+S. If you press it again, the window will get larger, to the next recommended 16:9 size. Press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+S and the window will get smaller to the previous size. Get the code on github or on I probably need some more testing as well. Patches very welcome if you’re good at shell extensions :)

With this extension installed I was able to screenshot all my applications that I maintain in no time at all. I’ve been uploading the screenshots into ${projects}/data/appdata and referencing the URL in the AppData file so anyone can easily update them when the code changes, but this is completely up to you.

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Richard has over 10 years of experience developing open source software. He is the maintainer of GNOME Software, PackageKit, GNOME Packagekit, GNOME Power Manager, GNOME Color Manager, colord, and UPower and also contributes to many other projects and opensource standards. Richard has three main areas of interest on the free desktop, color management, package management, and power management. Richard graduated a few years ago from the University of Surrey with a Masters in Electronics Engineering. He now works for Red Hat in the desktop group, and also manages a company selling open source calibration equipment. Richard's outside interests include taking photos and eating good food.

6 thoughts on “How to take 16:9 Screenshots”

  1. I don’t understand this. The aspect ratio can be recommended, but why should anyone _crop_ images to fit the ratio? It doesn’t make sense for certain applications. For example an old game might support just 1024×768, nothing else. If this case, the image should be provided as it is, in 1024×768. Why would you want to crop it (and possibly lose some important UI elements)?

    1. No cropping unless you’re trying to show a part of the UI in detail. The window shape should be 16:9, unless that’s crazy (like a game) in which case just use whatever resolution and size you want and we’ll pad the screenshot with mid-gray bars in the UI.

      1. In that case it would be best to adjust the specification: “All screenshots should be cropped to have a 16:9 aspect ratio…” . Currently it sounds like mandatory and there are no exceptions listed. Also, it says “should be cropped” instead of “should be sized” (or similar), which would be more appropriate?

  2. By the way, your gedit screenshot looks quite weird in 16:9. I wouldn’t mind at all if the window was more naturally sized, i.e. the way you really are likely to use it (probably slightly higher than wider). GNOME Software can simply draw transparent borders around the image to fill the available space when rendering it, can’t it?

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