send a screenshot to your phone, instant message or email using cloud storage such as Google Photos – this really is the best workflow

Without copying a screenshot to or using a USB stick (no!)

All the day I capture useful or interesting images from facebook, instagram, desktop apps and web pages. I copy bits of images to use in lectures, newsletters, web pages, emails and Whatsapp messages. I capture images to remember a membership number, an address or map, a booking reference, or serial number. While I’ve used Snaggit to do this (since 2002!) your computer can already capture a screenshot if you know the keyboard shortcut.

All those image files are saved on my PC desktop but, as this post will show, those images are also saved to the cloud. In my case, they are saved to Google photos so that I can refer to them anytime later on my phone. While I’ve snipped bits of useful things for many years, but my saving to the cloud workflow had made the process slick.

In a nutshell,what you need to do is firstly capture a screenshot as an image file on the desktop or other folder and lastly to sync that folder with a cloud photo album such as Google Photos.

1. Take a screenshot eg capture a region on your Windows or Mac computer screen

Remembering the keyboard shortcut that will capture an area of the screen is the hard part of this process. You also need to save each screenshot in the same folder each time because this is the folder you will sync with the cloud.

  • On a Mac the screenshot keyboard command is SHIFT + COMMAND + DOLLAR (or 4). Pressing these three keys together will give you a crosshair to select an area of the screen. When you release the mouse a screenshot is saved to the desktop. See the variations of this at Apple support Take a screenshot on your Mac
  • On a PC the method has changed and improved a bit over time. Press the Windows logo key + Shift + S to open the ‘snipping bar’ (or type snipping bar in the start menu to launch this app). You can then save the screenshot with the snipping app. I’d recommend that you change the Windows snipping feature keyboard shortcut into the Prnt Screen button. To do this select Start > Settings > Ease of Access > Keyboard.
  • On either Mac or PC – I capture so much that I prefer to use Techsmith Snaggit which is a paid app. Snaggit not only captures the screen in extra useful ways, it includes a most excellent image editor where you can add captions, erase areas and even edit the text on a screenshot. I set up Snaggit so that I can press my favorite key (Prnt Screen) and then will immediately save a png file to the desktop and clipboard.

2. Example A: now sync your screenshots to Google Photos using the Google Backup & Sync app

Google has a PC and Mac desktop Drive app that will watch a folder on your PC and upload any new file to your Google Drive and Google Photos. After you’ve installed it go to Settings or Preferences and find the options below.

I’d make the choices below as I only need to synchronize one folder which is the Desktop folder where every screenshot (eg a cinema booking reference) is saved. Secondly and importantly, I ensure that the app ‘sync’ is only from the Desktop to the cloud. This ensures when I move or delete files from the Desktop they will remain in my Google photos for future reference.

2. Example B: save your screenshots to your Microsoft OneDrive or Apple iCloud

Both Microsoft OneDrive and Apple’s cloud services allow to save and sync your screenshots to your online photos. There is no need to install an app.

3. Use your images on your phone or desktop

In summary, you should now know how to make a screenshot of something and have that saved on the desktop, ready to put into an email or document. The saved the image is also now in Google photos ready to view or use in an email or Whatsapp message. When you delete images on the desktop they will not be deleted from the Cloud.

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