OSX Productivity: Dropbox Your Screenshots

2 minute read

I often share screens with co-workers by Campfire, Github, or mail. Visualizing something can save you a lot of typing. Show people what button shade doesn't look quite right, instead of explaining in 1000+ characters. Share a load graph without saving & attaching images, or handing out basic auth credentials. The list goes on & on. Once you make it a joy to share, you'll find use-cases on a daily basis, and it is my believe you'll lose less time on typing and miscommunication.

At least.. that's what I'm experiencing, using the following tricks.

The Normal Flow

  • Press SHIFT + COMMAND + 4
  • (optionally you spress SPACE to switch to Window-capturing)
  • Drag an area that you want to share with co-workers
  • A screenshot is saved to ~/Desktop

And now you'll have to find your way to the screenshot. That seems like effort.

The Better Flow

But having many windows open, now it's a pain to access the screenshot.

One thing you could do is make the Desktop folder more accessible by adding it to your Dock. You can make it even better by setting it up as a Fan, ordered by Date Modfied.

Now, your latest screenshot will always be the bottom-first item from your new Dock fan. Now you can drag & drop it right into your open Github/Campfire app like a pro, without ever minimizing the apps your already working in, or firing up Finder windows to hunt down your screen.

The Ultimate Flow

To add even more sugar to this, you could tell OSX to save screenshots into Dropbox by default. This way you can use screens as quick notes, distributed across all of your machines; or you could tell Dropbox to quickly make a public link of your screen, and share a URL with anyone.

Setup

Here's how to set up the Ultimate flow, assuming you have Dropbox. Without Dropbox, it's still cool, just remove /Dropbox from the following commands.

$ mkdir -p ~/Dropbox/Screenshots/
$ defaults write com.apple.screencapture location ~/Dropbox/Screenshots/
$ killall SystemUIServer

Now open your Dropbox in the GUI

$ open ~/Dropbox/
  • Drag the Screenshots next to your Downloads & Trash icons in your Dock
  • Right click: Fan
  • Right click: Date Modified

Tight! Now make some screenshots as explained in the Normal flow and see them automatically added to the fan, most recent always the first clickable item, and Dropbox syncing them up instantly.

Undo

Don't like it? Wow you are one tough customer. But here we go :)

$ defaults write com.apple.screencapture location ~/Desktop/
$ killall SystemUIServer

And just remove the folder from your Dock. That's all :)

Alternatives

Now the article already mentions Dropbox is very optional, but of course you can also substitute Dropbox with (free) competitors such as Sparkleshare if you're into that.

It was also mentioned by Graham Weldon that you can use CloudApp for a similar workflow. It's free & available in the Mac App Store.

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