Theresia Tanzil
5 min readJun 6, 2020

Let’s talk about screenshots.

Screenshots are Zapier for the masses. The most reliable and versatile tool to capture and share. Works across all apps, platforms, and devices.

Want to share something from WhatsApp to Telegram? Facebook to Twitter? Instagram to WhatsApp? Screenshot

Want to remember to continue watching that video later? Screenshot with the timestamp visible

Want to remember how your timeline looks? Screenshot

Interesting passages from an article / book you are reading? screenshot

Want to take a picture of your character’s progress or the view of the quest in a game? Screenshot

Want to keep pics of your idol in some live stream? Screenshot

Want to track brand or pricing violation? Browse to the product page and take a screenshot

We use screenshots to preserve the on-screen-entities we want to remember, refer back to, or share. Screw format, data integrity, and granularity. What you see is what you get.

Screenshots are the universal todo and to-read. The swiss-army of state management and workflow weaving.

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Why is this important? I don’t know yet. Screenshotting is a big part of everyone’s workflow and I think there’s a gap here in technology around managing your screenshots.

If I’m not much of an outlier, I don’t think I’m too far off to describe most people’s screenshot situation (at least the ones reading this): thousands of stray contextless images piling in the folder, forgotten.

Imagine if we could easily search through them, automatically group them, attach reminder on them, analyse, review, tag, and annotate. Essentially: contextualise.

Sure, none of these actions are impossible right now but these are not as frictionless and effortless as it could be.

And we’re talking about some low hanging fruit, easy fixes. E.g. filenaming should have more context than the default timestamp. The MIUI launcher on Redmi phones for example adds the source application to the filename. Arguably it doesn’t provide too much context about what the screenshot is about but it’s better than other Android OS I’ve used

And it’s not like no one has ever tried to solve, but this is a heavily underexplored area IMO — unlike note taking apps and todo list apps.

Two apps I tried and actually found useful so far in this problem space:

  • (Android): Hands down the most sophisticated screenshotting app I found on Android. Such a hidden gem. It allows you to crop, annotate, share as annotated image, select text, highlight, and search. Even supports capturing full length screenshots based on a URL. Got a bit of learning curve but well worth it.
  • (Mac, Windows): Great list of features. Have used this in the past, can’t remember why I ended up going back to the native screenshotting on OSX. Now the site is down and can’t find it on App Store. Will probably ask Omar about this

And these that I found while doing this quick research as I’m writing this

It’s an interesting area for sure, but judging from the supply available, the traction is not there. The lag I think is really on the demand side.

Perhaps it’s not something people perceive as a real problem. Or the screenshotting situation is something people just take as a given.

The pain is not obvious, and the possibility of having it better just doesn’t cross people’s minds.

My second more plausible take is, most of the time, the act of screenshotting itself is the final act. It’s preserved. It’s saved. It’s done.

That’s the emotional job to be done we assign to our screenshots: a security blanket.

Rarely that we need to do anything more. We might think we want to do more with it, but we almost ever do.

Same phenomenon as buying more books than you will ever read, bookmarking articles, and keeping that browser tab open.

The emotional timescale attached to each screenshot is also either very in-the-moment (gotta share this now) or very far into the future (will be useful some time. just in case).

Just in case. For later but never.

Closing thoughts

To take a screnshot is to clip a screen moment. To record your screen would be screenrolls. Why don’t people do more of these? (in the context of mobile) Not that appealing? Not a visible possibility in people’s horizon caused by lack of apps? Livestreaming your screen is a growing thing at least in the gaming space with the rise of

Been thinking a lot about state management lately. How we manage and interact with digital information, either as consumer or producer.

Thinking about the indirect jobs and actual functions we assign to different apps:

  • Email inboxes as todo list. Who still uses email to converse these days? less and less I believe (boomers?).
  • Messaging apps as todo list. We send stuff to Telegram saved messages and Slack reminders
  • Content apps as to-consume to-plan list. Saving posts as IG collections and Youtube WatchLater
  • Browser tabs as read-it-later queue. Hundreds of them sitting around, eating your mental RAM
  • Browser tabs as that big drawer of miscellaneous. Where you keep every single interface, files, and references you might need for work. Comparable to keeping all your tools from hammer to tooth floss to lip balm in one place. Complete chaos

Perhaps the eigenshift to make knowledge work feels saner is transitioning from the default Just-in-Case paradigm to Just-in-Time. How can we enable more Just-in-Time activities in different stages of learning / data <-> knowledge transformation lifecycle? This means contextual discovery (curation?), contextual retrieval, contextual (re)producing and so on.

This shift of lens would need to drive the way we design products (specifically tools for thought) and architect the flow of information.

But I don’t know. Are these tendencies wired in? Or are we conditioned and incentivised into this pattern by our tools?

Just in case. For later but never. FOMO.

Originally published at Proses.ID.



Theresia Tanzil

This is where I ask questions and talk to myself | Backend web dev, web scraping, Robotics Process Automation | Blogs at