A collection of thoughts, findings, and new things I’ve learnt about interaction design, creativity, content strategy, service design, psychology, innovation, and more.

A screenshot-management tip for technical writers

A few years ago I discovered that Evernote’s OCR feature is a really useful tool for managing screenshots of user interfaces.

When you write user guides for a software product, screenshots can become the bane of your existence. The product UI is always changing and if you don’t have a system in place for keeping track of which screenshots are used where, it’s difficult to maintain parity between the product and your docs.

When, for example, a single word is changed in the UI, the product documentation team has to find and update every article containing instructions that reference that UI term. The problem is, screenshots with the old UI copy might be in help articles that don’t reference that term in writing.

Example of a one-word UI copy change; “subscribe” to “signup”

Before I started using Evernote for image management, it would sometimes take weeks to stumble across screenshots of outdated UI.

Evernote’s OCR feature

OCR stands for Optical Character Recognition and it enables you to search your notes in Evernote by terms used in the text inside of saved images. So, after publishing a new screenshot in a help article, I’d create a new note in Evernote, drag in the screenshot, and, below that, add the image and article URL.

How Evernote displays search results for words within images

If I later used the same screenshot in a different help article, I’d add the extra article URLs to the note for that screenshot.

This made screenshot management way easier than any method tried before because, when you’re told about a UI change that’s soon to be released, you simply search Evernote for a keyword used in that page of the app and, boom, there’s every screenshot, followed by a list of every article it’s published in.