Having used org-mode a lot before quarto came out, one handy thing I could do within it was insert screenshots easily with this answer I found on stackoverflow. I was writing my project notes in quarto the other day and really missed that functionality. So I tweaked the original elisp code a bit to make it work for quarto and markdown files (including Rmarkdown).

A demo of how it works:

The function

Edit your emacs init.el file to include the following function called md-screenshot. Feel free to name it whatever you want.

(defun md-screenshot ()
  "Take a screenshot into a time stamped unique-named file in the
same directory as the working and insert a link to this file."
  (setq filename
          (concat (file-name-nondirectory (buffer-file-name))
                  (format-time-string "%Y-%m-%d_%a_%kh%Mm_")) ) ".png"))
  (unless (file-exists-p (file-name-directory filename))
    (make-directory (file-name-directory filename)))
  ; take screenshot
  (if (eq system-type 'darwin)
      (call-process "screencapture" nil nil nil "-i" filename))
  (if (eq system-type 'gnu/linux)
      (call-process "import" nil nil nil filename))
  ; insert into file if correctly taken
  (if (file-exists-p filename)
      (insert (concat "![](" filename ")")))

What it does

It creates a new directory named after the file you want to insert the screenshot in, takes the screenshot, and saves it in the directory with this naming format: Date_Day_Hour_Minute with a random combination of letters to make unique file names.

In the above demo, the quarto file I was working in was named quarto-screenshot.qmd

Calling the md-screenshot function did the following:

  • created a folder named quarto-screenshot.qmd_screenshots within the file’s parent directory
  • saved the screenshot as 2022-11-15_Tue_13h13m_DA0wve.png
  • inserted the following line in the quarto/markdown document: ![](quarto-screenshot.qmd_screenshots/2022-11-15_Tue_13h13m_DA0wve.png)
  • ran markdown-display-inline-images so the screenshot was displayed within the buffer


  • Use markdown-toggle-inline-images to turn off inline display of images in your buffer.
  • You can make a custom keybinding for it with (global-set-key "your-key-binding" 'md-screenshot). Just replace your-key-binding with whatever you want to use.


  1. stackoverflow answer with the original function for org-mode
  2. emacs time parsing information so I could format the file name the way I wanted