So, How’s Screenshots Doing?

It’s been a bit over five months since we launched Firefox Screenshots in Firefox 56, and I wanted to take a moment to reflect on what’s happened so far and to look forward to what’s coming next.

So far, our users have taken more than 67 million screenshots. This is a big number that makes my manager happy, but more interesting is how we got here.

The changing shape of Firefox

We launched Firefox Screenshots in Firefox 56 in late September of 2017. This was one release before the widely hailed Firefox Quantum release, back when Firefox still had curvy tabs.

When we launched, the screenshot button appeared in the browser toolbar with a little badge highlighting the new feature.

Firefox 56 UI with Screenshots appearing in the toolbar

In Firefox Quantum, actions such as bookmarking, sending a tab to a mobile device, or saving to Pocket were all moved into a contextual menu. The Firefox Screenshots control moved to this new home as well.

Firefox Quantum with a hidden Screenshots control

As a Firefox user, I really like this new design: it’s cleaner, more consistent than what came before. As the Product Manager for Screenshots, I was definitely worried about how the change would affect our numbers.

We did take a pretty sizable hit in the short term. Firefox Quantum launched on November 14th and rolled out over the following week. In the four weeks that followed, 23.2% fewer shots were taken than prior to the Firefox Quantum launch.

The dark purple line show shots taken in the 28 days after Quantum, while the lighter line shows shots taken in the 28 days prior.

Taking a step back, the logic of Firefox’s redesign starts to show. While the graph above measures shots actually taken, the one below shows total shots initiated during the same period. Shots are initiated when someone clicks the screenshots button or right-clicks to trigger the screenshots UI.

Users started to take a lot more shots in the month before Quantum.

These charts show that while users started to take a lot more shots before Firefox Quantum, they didn’t actually wind up taking that many more shots. This difference really shows in the relative rates of shots canceled before and after Firefox Quantum. Canceled shots just mean that a user escapes the Screenshot UI without capturing a screenshot by refreshing the page, hitting escape, or clicking the cancel button. As the graph below show, these events fell off a cliff after Firefox Quantum.

After Quantum, canceled shots fell drastically.

So, yes, we lost users with the Firefox Quantum launch, but the change was actually quite positive for us because the changes made engagements with Firefox Screenshots a lot more likely to end in a shot actually being taken.

The chart at left shows all shots initiated, canceled and taken from September 28th, 2017 through March 1st, 2018 split by the Firefox Quantum release. The change in ratio between taken and canceled is pretty impressive. Before Firefox Quantum there was 1 shot taken for every 2 shots canceled. Since Firefox Quantum there have been 2 shots taken for every shot canceled. It seems that users who engage with Screenshots in Firefox Quantum do so intentionally whereas before people might have simply clicked the new button to to see what happened.

Another noteworthy feature of Firefox Quantum is that right-clicking (aka context clicking) to start a shot has long-since become our users’ preferred way to begin engagement with Screenshots. This makes sense given that people take screenshots in order to complete tasks such as sending along flight information or grabbing a chat bubble for later reference. In the chart below (which really shows the effect Firefox Quantum had on starting shots) context clicking surpasses the toolbar menu just after Firefox Quantum launched.

Most users now start shots through a context click.

What kind of shots are people taking?

When we launched Screenshots in Firefox 56 there were two different kinds of shots our users could take. They could drag select a region of the page and either download the highlighted region or upload it and get a URL copied to their clipboard.

Over the last several releases, we’ve added different ways of capturing shots so that now there are 9 different methods of taking and saving shots. As of Firefox Quantum users could capture regions, visible parts of a page, or an entire page. In the Firefox release after Quantum we added the ability to copy images directly to the clipboard.

Users have lots of different options when it comes to saving shots.

So, how do all of these different shot types compare? Well, the most popular shot type is downloading a region, followed by saving a region and getting a URL. This has been the case pretty much throughout the life of Screenshots. Interestingly, this ranking was reversed when we were testing Screenshots in Test Pilot back when it was called Page Shot.

The view since Quantum: downloading and uploading regions are still the most popular options, but copying a region to clipboard has grown a lot since it launched in late January

Since we started launching more shot options in Firefox Quantum, copying directly to clipboard (above in aqua) has grown particularly popular (it’s how I added charts to this post). The chart below shows all shots taken in the last month, the relative changes in each category, and shot totals. There are a few highlights here:

  1. Clipboard shots are growing like crazy.
  2. They appear to be cannibalizing shots that might have otherwise been saved to a URL.
  3. We’re growing!
All the ways people took shots from February 5th to March 6th 2018

And we’ve been growing. Since the new year, a time when we expect to see a seasonal decrease in users, we’ve grown every single week in 2018. We’re not quite back to the raw weekly shot numbers we had before Firefox Quantum, but as the chart below shows, we’re getting awfully close, and these shots are far more likely to be taken intentionally than prior to the Firefox Quantum launch.

Up next

Hey look, annotations!

We’re still actively improving Firefox Screenshots all the time. In fact, we’re launching an annotations feature today! This feature will let users draw on or re-crop any saved shot.

Beyond this, we’ve got a few other ideas up our sleeves to make Firefox Screenshots even cooler than it is now. If you’re interested in helping out, please check out our repo on GitHub and feel free to contribute! 🏄‍♀️