Clarifying the Future of Firefox Screenshots – Future Releases

By John Gruen

Screenshots has been a popular part of Firefox since its launch in Firefox 56 in September 2017. Last year alone it was used by more than 20 million people to take nearly 180 million screenshots! The feature grew in popularity each month as new users discovered it in Firefox.

So it’s not surprising that any hints of changes coming to how we administer this popular feature generated interest from developers, press and everyday Firefox users. We want to take this opportunity to clarify exactly what the the future holds for Screenshots.

What is happening to Screenshots?

The Screenshots feature is not being removed from Firefox.

Screenshots users will still be able to crop shots, capture visible parts of pages and even capture full web pages. Users will continue to be able to download these images and copy them to their clipboard.

What is changing is that in 2019 users will no longer have the option to save screenshots to a standalone server hosted by Firefox. Previously, shots could be saved to our server, expiring after two weeks unless a user expressly chose to save them for longer.

Why are we making this change?

While some users made use of the save-to-server feature, downloading and copying shots to clipboard have become far more popular options for our users. We’ve decided to simplify the Screenshots service by focusing on these two options and sunsetting the Screenshots server in 2019.

Where did the confusion come from?

We’re an open source organization so sometimes when we’re contemplating changes that will enhance the experience of our users, information is shared while we’re still noodling the right path forward. That was the case here. In response to user feedback, we had planned to change the “Save” button on Screenshots to “Upload” to better indicate that shots would be saved to a server. When we decided that we’d no longer be offering the save-to-server option for screenshots, we shelved the button copy change.

User feedback about the button copy had nothing to do with the removal of the server. We are choosing to take the latter step simply because the copy to clipboard and download options are considerably more popular and we want to offer a simpler user experience.

OK, so when do I have to clear out the “attic”?

Starting in Firefox 67 which is released in May, users will no longer be able to upload shots to the Screenshots server. Pre-release users will see these changes starting in February as Firefox 67 enters Nightly.

We will be alerting users who have shots saved to the server by showing messaging about how to export their saved shots starting in February as well.

Users will have until late summer to export any permanently saved shots they have on the Screenshots server. You can visit our support site for additional information on how to manage this transition.

How are you gonna make it up me? What’s coming next?

Screenshots quickly became a popular tool in Firefox. Look for new features like keyboard shortcuts and improved shot preview UI coming soon. We’re also interested in finding new ways to let Firefox users know the feature is there, and are planning experiments to highlight Screenshots as one of many tools that make Firefox unique.