9 reasons that screenshots are still broken

And how we plan to fix them…

What’s the big deal with screenshots?

If you’ve been watching twitter recently, you’ve no doubt come across an increasing flood of screenshots in your feed.

Chris Dixon, of Andreessen Horowitz, recently summarized the 9 ways in which screenshots are awesome here on Medium.

Also, back in May, M.G. Siegler, penned a piece on ‘The Power of the Screenshot’, and in a March issue of Wired, Clive Thompson went so far as to dub screenshots “The Most Important Thing on the Internet”.

At Blink, we are huge believers in the power of the screenshot.

Screenshots are at the core of what we do (building a product for better managing and sharing them on mobile), so needless to say we spend allot of our time talking to people who take screenshots…so…

What’s wrong with screenshots?

  1. Screenshots are stateless — while this can be an advantage to screenshots in certain cases, it can also be an inconvenience since screenshots lose the connection to their underlying source and relevant meta-data (link, surrounding context etc).
  2. Screenshots are not searchable — there is currently no good way to search through the text or other information trapped in a screenshot.
  3. Screenshots aren’t self-aware — screenshots don’t know much about 1) where they came from 2) which app/url they were captured from 3) where they were shared and by whom.
  4. Screenshots are not accessible —for visually impaired users that rely on screen-readers, screenshots are little black holes of information.
  5. Screenshots can be visually confusing — since they often contain a mobile device’s header & footer, they can be confusing to view (see: un-clickable screen prank and screenception).
  6. Screenshots take up disk space — screenshots take up disk space on your computer or phone (unless you actively manage and delete them).
  7. Screenshots are un-organized — screenshots currently live along side your pictures and videos, causing unnecessary clutter.
  8. Screenshots can leak personal information — from a friend’s name or comment to more sensitive information, screenshots can be a privacy and security risk (also very common on SnapChat, even though the risk is known).
  9. Screenshots are not interactive — it goes without saying that you can’t interact with a screenshot or any of the elements captured inside by clicking on them (think about copying text, clicking links etc).

Why now?

With all of these short-comings why are users saving and sharing screenshots more than ever before? Answer: Mobile.

Benedict Evans (also of Andreessen Horowitz) summed it up nicely in a tweet.

So, what’s next?

Simply put, our mission at Blink is to elevate screenshots to first-class citizens alongside other internet communication mediums like gifs, images, text-based web pages, videos and audio files.

Interested in learning more about it?

Join our private beta here to try out our product before it launches.

We also have some other writing on Medium about information design and our journey. Warning: they mostly humorless.

We are also on Twitter .

-Adam

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