Capture a display screenshot

The following procedure describes how to use Screen to capture a screenshot of a single display. You can store the resulting screenshot in either a pixmap or window buffer for further manipulation. This particular procedure describes capturing the screenshot in a pixmap buffer and then writing the screenshot to a bitmap.

This sample application uses the components of a grey hourglass, a moving blue vertical bar, and a yellow background. It aims to demonstrate how to capture a screenshot using the Screen API.

Figure 1. Screenshot Application

You will learn to:

Before you begin

Before proceeding with the procedures to capture a screenshot, you are expected to have already created a privileged context using screen_create_context() with the context type of SCREEN_DISPLAY_MANAGER_CONTEXT. In order to be able to create this privileged context, remember that your process must have an effective user ID of root.

screen_context_t screen_ctx;
screen_create_context(&screenshot_ctx, SCREEN_DISPLAY_MANAGER_CONTEXT);

In the following procedure, the created context will be referred to as screenshot_ctx.

The targeted display will be referred to as screenshot_disp.

  1. Create variables for the pixmap, the pixmap buffer, the pixmap buffer pointer, and the stride:
    screen_pixmap_t screen_pix;
    screen_buffer_t screenshot_buf;
    char *screenshot_ptr = NULL;
    int screenshot_stride = 0;
  2. Create other variables necessary to support the Screen API calls and the writing of our screenshot to a bitmap.

    In this procedure, you will declare several integer variables to help in setting the pixmap and its properties. You will also need variables associated with the writing of the screenshot to bitmap. For this example, a set path and filename are used. Ensure that you have appropriate permissions to access the directory path of the file.

    char header[54];
    char *fname = "/accounts/1000/appdata/com.example.Tutorial_WindowApp."
    int nbytes;
    int fd;
    int i;
    int usage, format;
    int size[2]; 
  3. Create the pixmap for the screenshot and set the usage flag and format properties:
    screen_create_pixmap(&screen_pix, screenshot_ctx);
    screen_set_pixmap_property_iv(screen_pix, SCREEN_PROPERTY_USAGE, &usage);
    format = SCREEN_FORMAT_RGBA8888;
    screen_set_pixmap_property_iv(screen_pix, SCREEN_PROPERTY_FORMAT, &format);
  4. Set the buffer size of the pixmap for the screenshot:

    Set an appropriate buffer size for the pixmap. The pixmap buffer size doesn't have to necessarily match the size of the source. Scaling will be applied to make the screenshot fit into the buffer provided.

    size[0] = 200;
    size[1] = 200;
    screen_set_pixmap_property_iv(screen_pix, SCREEN_PROPERTY_BUFFER_SIZE, size);
  5. Create the pixmap buffer for the screenshot and get the buffer handle, the pointer, and the stride.

    Memory is allocated for your pixmap buffer; this is the buffer where the pixels from the source window will be copied to:

    screen_get_pixmap_property_pv(screen_pix, SCREEN_PROPERTY_RENDER_BUFFERS,
    screen_get_buffer_property_pv(screenshot_buf, SCREEN_PROPERTY_POINTER,
    screen_get_buffer_property_iv(screenshot_buf, SCREEN_PROPERTY_STRIDE,
  6. Take the display screenshot.
    screen_read_display(screenshot_disp, screenshot_buf, 0, NULL ,0);

    This function takes five arguments: the target of the screenshot, the pixmap buffer, the number of rectangles defining the area of capture, the array of integers representing rectangles of the area of capture, and the mutex flag. The arguments related to the area of capture are 0 and NULL because in this example you are capturing the target area in its entirety rather than a specific rectangular area. The last argument (which represents the mutex flag) should always be 0.

  7. Create the bitmap file with appropriate permissions; prepare the header and write the buffer contents to the file. Afterwards, close the file:
    fd = creat(fname, S_IRUSR | S_IWUSR);
    nbytes = size[0] * size[1] * 4;
    write_bitmap_header(nbytes, fd, size);
    for (i = 0; i < size[1]; i++) {
    	write(fd, screenshot_ptr + i * screenshot_stride, size[0] * 4);

    The value of nbytes represents the calculated size of the bitmap and is used in the header of the bitmap itself.

Although any instances created are destroyed when the application exits, it is best practice to destroy any window, pixmap and context instances that you created but no longer require.

In this example, you should destroy the pixmap that you created to perform the screenshot. After the pixmap buffer has been used to create the bitmap, the pixmap, and its buffer are no longer required. Therefore you should perform the appropriate cleanup.