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Here are 4 tricks that I’ve found to make my life easier and help me communicate better with my co-workers.

1. Store screenshots in a folder on your Dock 📂

How do you keep your desktop from being overrun with screenshots? The macOS default is to just dump the images next to everything else you store. If, like me, you take a lot of screenshots, your desktop can quickly fill up.

A mess.

The solution: store them in a Dock folder like Steve Jobs intended.

So organized.

(This one is from a tweet I wrote a year ago.)

  1. Create a “Screenshots” folder Mine is next to my "Documents" folder.
  2. Put the folder on your Dock Next to "Applications" works well.
  3. Open screenshot settings (⌘ ⇧ 5) It's the little bar at the bottom.
  4. Set it to your new “Screenshots” folder It's the little bar at the bottom.
  5. Right click the folder to make it more usable. Sort by “Date Added”, and select “View content as: Fan”. You might need to click "Date Added" twice.

2. Remove screenshot shadow 🕶

How can you make full-app screenshots (⌘ ⇧ 4 then space bar) only include the relevant content without the extra gradient border? If your plan is to share the image, the person receiving the image probably doesn’t care about the feeling that the screen is floating. Remove the shadow!

It looks nice here but silly when you drop it in Slack.

Run the following command from Terminal (Applications -> Utilities -> Terminal).

defaults write disable-shadow -bool true; killall SystemUIServer

To bring back the shadow, change true to false.

defaults write disable-shadow -bool false; killall SystemUIServer

3. Take screenshots as JPEGs, not PNGs ⚖️

How can you make your screenshots take up less space? If you’re sharing the images to places with resource constrains or just want faster uploads, you’re going to want the images to be smaller. One easy way is to change your default screenshot format from .png to .jpg.

You could always use more cats.

Run the following command from Terminal.

defaults write type jpg; killall SystemUIServer

If you change your mind later, you can always go back with.

defaults write type png; killall SystemUIServer

I took a screenshot of a Google image search for “cat” and the PNG was 5.7MB while the JPEG was 1.4MB. I got less impressive results when I took screenshots of mostly solid color screens.

⚠️ The main downside of this setting is that transparent parts of screenshots will be turned black.

4. Show side-by-side comparisons with ImageMagick 🧑‍🤝‍🧑

How can you easily show the before-and-after of an image? You could use Photoshop or GIMP, but that takes a fair amount of time. If you’re comfortable enough to use Terminal, you can very quickly make a side-by-side with ImageMagick.

Winston looking right. Winston looking left. (png, 614KB)

ImageMagick has a helpful set of image manipulation tools including montage. If you don’t yet have Homebrew installed, I recommend doing that first. You can then install ImageMagick by running brew install imagemagick from Terminal.

To make a 2x1 image with a 20 pixel buffer around each image and a transparent background, run the following from Terminal (with the <entries> changed out). You’ll want the output to be a .png if you want a transparent background.

montage <image1> <image2> -tile 2x1 -geometry +20+20 -background none <ouput.png>

Of course you can change to -geometry +0+0 if you want no space or have the output with a .jpg extension if you want a smaller image size.

Winston looking right. Winston looking left. (jpg, 136KB)

Instead of typing out the <image> file names, you can also drag the file onto the Terminal window.

Typing out the whole path is less fun.

If you liked this, please tell a friend. If you hated it, keep it to yourself. Thanks to Richard for feedback on this before I sent it out.

Update (2022-06-16T14:25:03-0700): The Hacker News post has other hot tips that will further impress your co-workers. I’ve also corrected some typos the internet helpfully pointed out. 😅

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Salvatore Testa



Salvatore's Blog

It works on my computer.

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