The screenshot can never get old as it remains one of the most popular tools to capture and share data, images and messages
Most 90s’ kids would relate to life around Johnny Bravo, Sunday bingeing on VHS tapes and how Backstreet Boys and Spice Girls forever changed music preferences. This was also the time when kids sat in front of giant computer screens to make word art. And that’s how and when the word ‘screenshot’ entered our lives. The fascinating ‘Print Screen’ key on the keyboard helped grab a visual of the screen, as easy as clicking a picture today.
Till we became familiar with the internet, which introduced us to a whole new world of multimedia, screenshots served as the evidence of results. A standard screen grab at the click of the button—without the need of a separate camera—helped share conversations, pictures and many more things in the virtual world.
Interestingly, computer operating systems through the 1980s did not universally have built-in functionality for capturing screenshots. There were no special applications or software to take a screenshot as this functionality was baked into computers.
Till today, however, a screenshot has not lost its charm and, for most people, it is an easy and powerful communication tool to edit, mark, highlight and write feedback directly. Messaging and communication are simpler and efficient with an image of the data displayed on the screen of the device. “Most of us consume content online and, in such a scenario, if you like something, you don’t have to scribble it quickly on a notebook, but take screenshots to use later for reference. I personally use it a lot. It is a great tool to use while giving presentations virtually,” says Bengaluru-based Gaurav Rastogi, the founder of wealth management app Kuvera.
With limited face-to-face interaction, the screenshot allows to explain graphically what might not be possible verbally. “Whether it is graphical work, explaining something like Dropbox or passing information from one person to another, a screenshot helps explain minimally. Also, when we are running against time, it saves the effort of typing. Because it’s visual, it is easier to understand than reading an instruction,” feels Delhi-based communications professional Parul Kapur.
Similarly, media relations expert Sejal Arora finds there’s less chance of misunderstanding feedback and through a screenshot a message can be saved for future reference. “In my profession, I coordinate with graphic designers on a daily basis. It helps in quicker feedback to avoid wordy emails. If I report a technical bug to an IT specialist, a screenshot helps me explain the error,” she says.
In case of business enterprises, where clients express their requirements on social media, it can be forwarded to the designer/merchandiser in the form of a screenshot. Samiksha Bajaj, co-founder, Samshék, a fashion tech store which designs clothes virtually with a 3D body scanner, says it bridges the communication gap between the client and buyer. “Screenshot is important in sharing customer reviews with other potential clients. Customer reviews increase conversion chances by 40% and screenshots bring authenticity to customer reviews when sharing with others,” she says.
For those who work from the phone, screenshots are a way to quickly share best practices and spread messages. Amit Damani, co-founder, Vista Rooms, a hospitality startup in the premium luxury segment, relied on screenshots even before a digital shift happened in the workplace. “With our entire office operating on WhatsApp, screenshots have been a simple and effective way to quickly show examples, train teams or share feedback on how to improve. But every innovation has two sides. If the screen grab shared is selectively taken minus the context, it can create complexities. So reference to context is a must!” he cautions.
Screenshots are time-saving hacks to document certain things while you are juggling too many tasks simultaneously. Kunwar Raj Sethi, founder of digital verification firm inVOID, who works with companies like Nestaway, Mobycy, ONN Bikes, OnTrack and ZoloStays, uses screenshots to give feedback to co-workers or screen-record product demos. “A screenshot of a new web page or app with annotated reviews is easy to understand and leads to faster turnaround time in delivery than by giving detailed feedback on email or text. You can mark steps… these are much better than FAQs to explain to a new employee or a client various subjects over a phone call. You can demonstrate exactly what you are saying by taking the screenshot of the process and marking the steps using annotation tools that are even available on WhatsApp these days,” he says.
The art of taking screenshots can never be underestimated as it remains the most powerful tool to capture case history, messages or images.