I need a program for Ubuntu 14.04 that will allow me to take photos with a laptop's built-in webcam.

Required features:

  • Preview the webcam on-screen before taking the photo.
  • Must be available either in the Ubuntu Software Center or via apt-get without adding repositories.
  • Save pictures in common image formats (jpg and png at a minimum).

Unwanted features:

  • Image editing capabilities. I have more than enough software capable of doing image editing/processing, and this would likely only make the program unnecessarily larger than I need.
  • Silent capture mode. I want to know that the webcam is being accessed while the program is running.
  • 1
    Is there a reason you don't want to have the linux tag? Mar 17, 2015 at 12:34
  • @AngeloFuchs I don't have an actual problem with adding the linux tag, but I don't see enough reason for it to be added when my question already specified Ubuntu (a much more specific subset of the linux tag). I am against the change of wording in the question as "not required" and "unwanted features" have slightly different meanings. I am also against removing the Ubuntu tag (as had happened) since my question specifically is about Ubuntu. Mar 17, 2015 at 21:18
  • RE: Ubuntu: Did you read this meta? - RE: "unwanted": As you wish. Mar 18, 2015 at 8:32
  • 1
    @AngeloFuchs Yes I did read that after I made the above comment, and that is why I have kept the linux tag, as well as re-adding the ubuntu tag. Mar 18, 2015 at 8:35

2 Answers 2


You're probably looking for Cheese (see also its Wikipedia page), which can be used to make photos or videos using your webcam. Once started, Cheese...

  • constantly displays what the webcam "sees" (aka "preview")
  • offers you a few buttons to select the mode (photo, video)
  • saves pictures in standard formats (videos use .ogv Ogg Vorbis files)

Cheese is available via the standard Ubuntu repositories. Additional to your requirements, the software also features...

  • sharing pictures
  • configuring the resolution (if the webcam supports that)
  • taking pictures in "burst mode" (i.e. "picture series")
  • switch between multiple webcams (in case you have them)
  • some effect overlays (sorry, I know you don't want those "extras" – but there they are; the screenshot to the right shows one in use)
  • timer (countdown to take picture)

Cheese Cheese
Cheese (source: Wikipedia, UbuntuUsers; click images for larger variants)


You can do that with any video player that supports ffmpeg's libavdevice library, or video4linux directly, and have ability to take screenshots, in general. Or even ffmpeg's ffplay itself. Let's take a look at using awesome mpv for this.

First, you need to determine which device path corresponds to your webcam:

$ v4l2-ctl --list-devices

Remember this path. Second, play this input in video player:

$ mpv av://v4l2:/dev/video0

When you want to "take photo", just do screenshot (defaults to s in mpv). Done!

For more details about how to specify correct input URI, see docs, particularly section about av:// URIs. For other players see corresponding docs.

Note that such approach let's you involve full power of players: you can apply any desired filters, process, post-process output, record video instead of just taking "photos" - anything you can imagine!


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