Chrome OS Login Screen

There may not be a whole lot of reasons to take screenshots of the login screen on your Chromebook. If you ever need to, however, it’s a needlessly lengthy process. Here’s how to do it.

First off, you need to know how to take a screenshot, which is surprisingly easy: press the Ctrl and []]] keys at the same time. (The “[]]]” key is located above the 6 key on your keyboard’s number row.) Boom, screenshot taken. This part works anywhere—even on the login screen.

The problem comes when you try to retrieve said screenshot because you won’t find it in the default location on your account. Since you’re not logged in when you take the screenshot, the system can’t associate it with an account on the Chromebook.

So where does it store it? In a temporary directory. The screenshot(s) will stay here even after you log in—you just need to know how to copy it over to your account, which will require some time in the Chrome OS shell.

That may sound intimidating, but I promise it’s pretty simple—you just have to type a few commands, and you’ll be rockin’ and rollin’.

So, go ahead and fire up Crosh by pressing Ctrl+Alt+T. Here, type shell and hit enter.

Chrome OS Shell

In the shell, navigate to the tmp directory by typing the following: cd /tmp/

Chrome OS Shell in the tmp directory

Now, you’ll need to find the image file. Type ls to output a list of all files in this directory.

Chrome OS Shell with ls ouput

Once you’ve spotted the file, type the following to move it to your Downloads directory:

cp '<name of file>' ~/Downloads/

Don’t forget the single quotes here—because the name of the file has spaces in it, this tells the system that’st the entire file name.

Chrome OS Shell after copying a file

If entered correctly, you won’t get any sort of notification here, like in the screenshot above. If it’s wrong, you’ll see an error.

If all went as planned, your screenshot will now be in the Downloads folder. Congratulations on taking the needlessly complicated, but necessary steps to do something that should be a whole lot simpler.

Freshly copied file in the proper directory

Cameron Summerson Cameron Summerson
Cameron Summerson is the News Editor for How-To Geek and Review Geek. He’s been covering technology for nearly a decade and has written over 4,000 posts and hundreds of product reviews in that time. He’s been published in print magazines and quoted as a smartphone expert in the New York Times.
Read Full Bio »