My Quest for the Perfect Screenshot App

I like words, but I prefer to communicate visually. One of the more frequent modes of my visual communication is the shared screenshot. I snap and share screenshots dozens of times per day. ⌘-⇧-4 and I are close friends.

Finding the Perfect Tool

Given the frequency with which I share screenshots, I needed a tool to make the process easier. My requirements were simple:

Simplicity

Must be drop dead simple to use. I press a keyboard shortcut, drag my screenshot area, and the screenshot is uploaded, and its URL is copied to my clipboard. No unnecessary steps.

Bring Your Own Storage

I've been burned in the past by having a large number of files trapped on an overpriced service. I won't make that mistake again. From now on, it's my personal S3 bucket, or bust.

Link Directly to the File

I regularly post screenshots into Campfire. URLs to HTML wrapper pages that contain a download link do me no good. I need the actual file's URL copied to my clipboard.

Free

The best price. Bonus points for open source.

State of the Apps

And so I embarked on an exploration of the world of screenshot apps. These are the best:


CloudApp

  • Simplicity
  • Bring Your Own Storage
  • Link Directly to the File
  • Free
Pros

CloudApp is the sleekest screenshot app out there. The design (visual and experience) is stunning, and it can be used for more than just screenshot sharing. Great interface for reviewing previously uploaded files.

Very full featured. Drag and drop file sharing.

Cons

Very restrictive free tier. Only 10 files per day before you have to start paying.

Sample Shared URL

http://cl.ly/image/2Y361g2D0708

Ewww... a wrapper page. Wrapper


TinyGrab

  • Simplicity
  • Bring Your Own Storage
  • Link Directly to the File
  • Free
Pros

BYOStorage support! In addition to providing their own storage service, users can opt to upload to S3, Rackspace, or server via FTP.

Cons

URL copying doesn't work when using S3 storage. Ads. But hey, it's free!

Sample Shared URL

http://grab.by/wqze

Ewww... a wrapper page... with ads. tiny grab wrapper


Skitch

  • Simplicity
  • Bring Your Own Storage
  • Link Directly to the File
  • Free*

*Evernote does offer a paid Premium tier, but I've never encountered restrictions on my free usage.

Pros

Phew, finally a service that gives us a URL to the actual file! Awesome annotation tools. Whenever I need to draw attention to a particular element in a screenshot, or write a brief note, I turn to Skitch.

Evernote integration. If you're into that sort of thing.

Cons

No integration with the native screenshot tools which means an extra step, and no window screenshotting. There are some workarounds to make the process more simple, but the sharing process still requires additional effort.

Sample Shared URL

https://www.evernote.com/shard/s8/sh/e981808d-acd1-47fc-809d-5658f56aca56/f16c268a77eb86c261eb04b1faf0c85e/deep/0/Screen-Shot-2014-04-16-at-4.17.06-PM.png

Huzzah! A URL directly to the file! evernote does it right


Dropbox

  • Simplicity
  • Bring Your Own Storage
  • Link Directly to the File
  • Free*

*Dropbox is obviously a paid storage service, but their free tier provides more than enough storage (2GB) for the purposes of screenshot sharing.

Pros

You're probably using the Dropbox app already. You just need to go and activate the screenshot feature. dropbox 1

Cons

When the auto-upload screenshots feature is enabled, Dropbox does some hijacking of where the system saves screenshots and how they are named.

Sample Shared URL

https://www.dropbox.com/s/9ixclgvlxrrqtnt/Screenshot%202014-04-28%2018.04.28.png

Ewww... a wrapper page. dropbox wrapper


GrabBox

  • Simplicity
  • Bring Your Own Storage
  • Link Directly to the File
  • Free
Pros

Open Source!

Super simple to use and copied URLs are for actual files, not wrapper pages.

Cons

GrabBox is so close to my perfect screenshot app. There are just two flaws to speak of:

Limited to storage on Dropbox.

Deletes your screenshots from your system after they have uploaded to Dropbox. This might be a pro for some, but I like to maintain a local copy of my screenshots. There is also no way of seeing previous uploads, so you can lose track of what you've been uploading pretty easily.

Sample Shared URL

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/spa/qpv6e33q8c6b48b/ubioy9nr.png

grabbox file url


I couldn't find what I was looking for.

There are some fantatsic apps out there, but there wasn't one that met all the criteria of my perfect screenshot app.

So I built Kloud.

Kloud

  • Simplicity
  • Bring Your Own Storage
  • Link Directly to the File
  • Free

Kloud is a screenshot app built with Node.js by developers for developers. kloud

Pros

It perfectly suits the needs of simple screenshot sharing. It's also open source and built with the most popular programming language in the world. If it doesn't suit your needs perfectly, you or someone you know can probably just change it!

Cons

Some technical knowledge is required to install/configure/start the app.

Doesn't start automatically when the computer boots.

Sample Shared URL

https://s3.amazonaws.com/kurtzkloud.com/p/gh/ScreenShot2014-04-28at6.11.45_PM.png

Just a plain old S3 URL. Doesn't get simpler than that. kloud file url

Summary

The apps listed above are terrific. I encourage you to try them all. But if you find that just don't cut it (like I did), give Kloud a try. Check it out and let me know what you think at the Kloud repo on GitHub.

Lawson Kurtz

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