Linux sucks – Directory/Folder Pickers

One of the frustrations I’ve run into while using Linux has been with saving screenshots.  At first glance, the interface is much better than Windows’, because pressing the Print Screen key brings up a dialog that lets you save your screenshot to a file easily:

The GNOME Screenshot application

The GNOME Screenshot application

At this point, you’re much better off that you’d be on Windows (which either requires extra steps, or requires you to install 3rd-party applications).  However, you’re also a lot worse off than you realize.  This screenshot application sucks!

  1. When picking which folder to save a screenshot in, you’re presented with a list of directories – your “Places” (Home directory, Desktop, USB sticks, etc) and the directory you most recently saved to (in the example below, “filepicker”).  This looks good until you realize you might have multiple directories called “filepicker” and have no way of telling which one you’re looking at.  “filepicker” is reasonably unique, but I have multiple directories named “tmp” (/tmp, /var/www/tmp, /home/chris/tmp) and I usually dump a screenshot into one of these directories until I have a chance to edit it (e.g crop it in an image editing application). There is no way to tell what directory you’re really saving to.

    The GNOME Screenshot application; list of directories

    The GNOME Screenshot application: list of directories to save pictures in

  2. It gets worse.  If you choose “Other…” you’re presented with a directory picker:
    The GNOME Screenshot application: directory chooser

    The GNOME Screenshot application: directory chooser

    This doesn’t look too bad until you try using it.  In this screenshot, it looks like pressing “Open” would save the screenshot to /tmp/guest/tmp: note the “Location” bar and the highlighted item.  Despite this, it actually would save to /tmp/guest.  The “Location” bar just exists to trick you.  If, given the situation in the picture above, I typed a path into it (e.g. /home/guest/Desktop/tmp) and pressed Enter, the screenshot would still be saved to /tmp/guest!  This dialog lies to you if you type a path manually, and lies to you if you select a directory and choose “Open”. The only way to get it to do what you want is to actually navigate into the directory you want to use, then press “Open” (and ignore any text in the “Location” bar and any selected directories in the list).

  3. It still gets worse.  If, after navigating to the right folder, you try to type a filename into the “Location” bar (e.g. Picture.png), it creates a directory (in this case, it would create a directory called “Picture.png”) and uses that directory to save the screenshot.  You still have to type the filename when you’re back to the main Screenshot application window.
  4. It gets even worse.  If you want to save time and just type a full path into the “Name” field on the main screen, it appears to work, but doesn’t actually save the screenshot!  It fails silently!

This is some of the worst usability I’ve ever seen.  There are plenty of applications that aren’t very intuitive and are hard to use, but the deception here is in a league of its own.  I created a brief video that highlights some of these issues – you can watch it after the jump.


The sound doesn’t sync very well, but this should convey the idea….

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