Dropbox Trick: Making the default Mac screenshots instantly live on the web

Sep 15, 2009 in Dev

I have a little trick I use with the program Dropbox that I thought I would share. This came about after some discussion on Twitter about how some of us use Dropbox, and this was obviously more than 140 characters.

Note that I am on a Mac, so you Windows users will have to figure out how to do this on your own, though I suspect it won’t be too different really.

By default, Macs are able to take screenshots in a few ways. Full screen grabs, selected areas and selected windows can all be quickly snapped and saved as an image file to the desktop. Default filetype is PNG, which works fine for me. But I found that I often take screenshots that I need to share with someone. Doing the sharing part required several more steps.

In comes Dropbox. Dropbox has a public folder in it, that makes any file inside of it instantly viewable on the web. Each file gets a special web address, on my Mac I get it by right clicking the file and selecting Dropbox > Copy Public Link.

But first we need to change where the Mac puts screenshots. To do this, I run a little app called Deeper. Deeper lets you change certain defaults rather than having to dig into the command line (scary!). So now I just set my default screenshot location to a new folder inside Dropbox’s public folder called Screenshots (amazing, I know).

Now whenever I take a screenshot, it is stored into a public Dropbox folder. I can easily and quickly share an image via Twitter, IM, email or whatever. It’s become so useful to me that I can’t imagine working without this. Discussions over IM about a design, or troubleshooting something are now really easy to do.

Need to change the default screenshot filetype and don’t want to grab Deeper? Change JPEG below to whatever filetype you need.

Open up a Terminal and type:

defaults write NSGlobalDomain AppleScreenShotFormat JPEG