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Capture Images from the Command Line
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Image Snap

by: Robert Harder


Capture Images from the Command Line

ImageSnap is a Public Domain command-line tool that lets you capture still images from an iSight or other video source.


Copy the imagesnap file to someplace on your path like /usr/local/bin, or leave it in a "current directory," and call it with ./imagesnap instead.



To capture an image simply run the program from the command line.

$ imagesnap
Capturing image from device "iSight"..................snapshot.jpg

To specify a filename, make that your last argument:

$ imagesnap icu.jpg
Capturing image from device "iSight"

If you have multiple video devices attached to your computer, use the -l ("el") flag to list them:

$ imagesnap -l
Video Devices:

To select a specific video device use the -d device flag:

$ imagesnap -d DV
Capturing image from device "DV"..................snapshot.jpg

To output a jpeg representation to standard out (stdout), use a dash for the filename:

$ ssh /usr/local/bin/imagesnap - > snapshot.jpg
$ open snapshot.jpg

Git Hook Usage

Add this to your git hooks in .git/hooks/post-commit and you'll be all set.

#!/usr/bin/env ruby
puts "Taking capture into #{file}!"
system "imagesnap -q -w 3 #{file}"
exit 0

Image Formats

The following image formats are supported and are determined by the filename extension: JPEG, TIFF, PNG, GIF, BMP.


  • v0.2.5 - Added option to delay the first snapshot for some time. Added a time-lapse feature (thanks, Bas Zoetekouw).
  • v0.2.4 - Found bug that caused crash on Mac OS X 10.5 (but not 10.6).
  • v0.2.4beta - Tracking bug that causes crash on Mac OS X 10.5 (but not 10.6).
  • v0.2.3 - Fixed bug that caused all images to be saved as TIFF. Not sure when this bug was introduced.
  • v0.2.2 - Added ability to output jpeg to standard out. Made executable lowercase imagesnap.
  • v0.2.1 - Changed name from ImageCapture to ImageSnap to avoid confusion with Apple's Image Capture application.
  • v0.2 - Multiple file formats (not just TIFF). Faster response.
  • v0.1 - This is the initial release.

A Note About Public Domain

I have released this software into the Public Domain. That means you can do whatever you want with it. Really. You don't have to match it up with any other open source license — just use it. You can rename the files, do whatever you want. If your lawyers say you have to have a license, contact me, and I'll make a special release to you under whatever reasonable license you desire: MIT, BSD, GPL, whatever.

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