10 Ways Your Smartphone Camera Can Make Life Easier

boy photographer   10 Ways Your Smartphone Camera Can Make Life EasierDoes your phone have a camera on it?” said no one since 2005. Nobody even asks how many megapixels your phone’s camera has anymore. With the ubiquity of smartphones today, and the resolution of the cameras they have in them, why does anyone even sell a point-and-shoot digital camera anymore? All you need is a decent smartphone to take your vacation pictures and click a button to upload them to Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, wherever.

“But surely,” you ask haughtily,“there must be more use to this omnipresent function?” Yes, there is, and quit calling me Shirley.

Take a Picture Of Your Kids

Yes, those of us blessed with the fun-sized versions of ourselves take pictures of our kids constantly. We do this so we can see them grow, and remember those moments that we seem to only cherish after the fact. Those pictures are almost priceless. However, it is your children that are priceless. If you are going to a big outing, perhaps an amusement park or even the mall, take a picture of them.

kids cellphone cole camp1 590x393   10 Ways Your Smartphone Camera Can Make Life Easier

Don’t say you did this in case they get lost or abducted – that would just create unnecessary fear. Take the photo as if you were just capturing the moment they arrived at your recreation destination. Now you have a photo of exactly how they look and what they are wearing on that day. Even if they should just happen to wander to the toy section in the store, you can share that photo with store workers or security guards to help find them. This tip alone will make your life easier and less stressful.

Where Did These Come From?

If you need to take something apart to try to repair it, use your phone camera to take a picture of the item BEFORE you get after it with a butter knife. Take pictures at every stage of the disassembly. Now you have something to guide your reassembly efforts and jog your memory as to where each part belongs.

spare parts comedy nose 590x393   10 Ways Your Smartphone Camera Can Make Life Easier

Plus, should you feel the desire to share your handiness on the Internet, you have documentation of what you did. You never know, you might be the first person to find an easy way to fix something and help someone else.

Why I Was Late For Work

Recently, where I live was hit by a winter storm named Nemo. Which was a good name for it, because after all the snow fell and the winds drifted over anything that stood still, you would have a hard time finding anything.

stuck car1   10 Ways Your Smartphone Camera Can Make Life Easier

Our one car sat through the storm, dutifully waiting to be driven until today. When I went out to the car, I knew I would have to shovel around it and maybe put some traction sand down.  That went all fine and dandy, but backing out over the rest of the driveway proved difficult. The car slid on the ice and ended up in a bit of a snow bank. So, I took pictures. Yes, that’s my car in picture.

I got to work on time, but had someone questioned me, I could show them what I was up against.

Can You Tell Me What Your Computer is Doing?

Many of us are familiar with the Print Screen button and using screen capture software, and may have even used them to document a computer issue. Those tools are fine for systems that are functioning properly. Then there are those systems that just won’t let you do anything. Take a picture of the screen and e-mail it from your smartphone to whomever is trying to help you with your computer. Instantly, they will see what you see. (Yes, that’s my computer screen.)

computer screen   10 Ways Your Smartphone Camera Can Make Life Easier

With that information, the rate at which they can fix the problem has just increased rapidly. This tip applies to just about any malfunctioning device really.

Nice Layout. Too Bad About The Lighting.

If you’re a budding photographer, use your phone to take pictures of potential subjects at different times during the day, or even the year. Take pictures of your subject from different angles and different distances or viewpoints.  This will help you to understand how the natural lighting and environment affects your subject.

church   10 Ways Your Smartphone Camera Can Make Life Easier

Perhaps the winter sun and the snow makes that field stone church seem bigger and more piously austere. Maybe a shot near the end of spring will show the rows of freshly leaved linden trees softening the edges of the edifice, thus showing it as a heavenly respite for the weary. By doing this, you can leave your good camera gear safely at home until the right time. (I’ll post shot of this church again when I get out the big camera.)

But Marks & Spencer Has This for 50p Less!

People are finally getting a little smarter about their shopping habits and not willing to just pay whatever the shop wants. Your smartphone camera can go a long way in helping you to haggle with the shopkeeper. Of course, there are the fancy apps that allow you to use the camera to scan barcodes or QR codes and compare prices at different retailers.

pricetags paulswansen 590x442   10 Ways Your Smartphone Camera Can Make Life Easier

Unfortunately, those only work on items with codes that actually have information in the application’s database. But if you can take a picture of the item showing its price, you now have proof you can use with that store’s competitor to get the price that you want.

In a similar way, you could do this with boot sale items. Perhaps just for the larger ticket items though. I wrote this as though I were British. Did I fool anyone?

What Was The Phone Number For That Car For Sale?

Most people buy used cars, and many buy them from someone who just wants to sell their car. So when you’re out and about looking at cars, take pictures of it with the cellphone. Take pictures of the ‘for sale’ sign so you have the name and number to call and any other information written on it. Take pictures of as much of the car as you can including dents and dings. That will help you in negotiations.

used car hugo90 590x441   10 Ways Your Smartphone Camera Can Make Life Easier

You might come to a tentative deal on the phone, then show up later and the car has a new ding. Now you can prove that it does and push lower.

It Wasn’t Like That When I Sent It

Recently we shipped a friend’s car out west. The shippers broke the spoiler on the car. Had we thought to take a pictures of the car before they loaded it, we could have made our friend’s life easier. They could have easily shown that the car was fine before it went on the truck. This little trick can apply to ANYTHING that you ship.

Damged Package 590x442   10 Ways Your Smartphone Camera Can Make Life Easier

As another example, some manufacturers now take pictures of each shipment before it goes out the door. You can see the waybill, bill of goods and the items in the shipment. This protects them, and you, from things going missing.

Ibid

Are you a college or university student? Are you doing lots of research in the reserved or special collections? Whip out the cell phone, take pictures of the relevant pages as well as the ISBN, Cover and the Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication page. Now you can use that information to properly annotate and document your research, at your leisure.

book 500x590   10 Ways Your Smartphone Camera Can Make Life Easier

The photo above is from a book called, “Wireless Networking in the Developing World”. It’s a good read, look it up. Man, I wish I had that when I was in school. Back then photocopies were sometimes as much as 50 cents a piece and you can’t photocopy a lot of the ancient texts that I used.

How Did That Get In There?

Kids put weird things in weird places. Two of those places are the nose and ears. With the cellphone’s flash on, you can use the camera function almost like a scope to see what they’ve done now.

success kid   10 Ways Your Smartphone Camera Can Make Life Easier

Of course this works for adults too, if there’s maybe an ear infection or an abscessed tooth. Or maybe you just want to really see if your bum is as sexy as you think it is. It’s your camera. Where you put it is up to you!

But wait, there’s more…

We could go on all day about different ways to use your smartphone camera to make your life easier or simpler.

  • Don’t have a mirror handy while trying on fab hats? Take a picture!
  • See something you’d like to get your spouse, but you’re not sure if they’d like it? Take a picture!
  • See someone driving a car and reading a book at the same time? Take a picture!
  • Trying to lose weight and need to keep a food log? What do you think you should do? Yes, take a picture!

Do you have any fun, unusual or creative ways to use your smartphone’s camera? Do you use it to simplify or make your life easier? Give us an image of what you do in the comments section below.

Image Credits: Young Child Holding An Instant Camera via Shutterstock, Boys at The Fair via Flickr, Coffee Machine Parts via Flickr, Products with Price Tags via Flickr, Used Car for Sale via Flickr, Damaged Package via Flickr, Success Kid Crayon Up Nose via QuickMeme

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117 Comments -

Kirby

The contractor didn’t do a good job fixing and making the LAN cables look good. What do you do?
Take a picture.

Indeed there are countless more ways to do with our phone cameras. Thanks for the article.

Guy McDowell

You’re welcome!

William Lewis

I’ve used my phone’s camera to do most of these things, but I didn’t know I could use it to haggle prices. I didn’t even know that was “do-able”. Thanks for the article.

Guy McDowell

Even at the largest stores, you can ask for a manager and try to get a lower price.

Nevzat Akkaya

I love the child pic at the bottom of the article. He’s so sweet :)

Mac Witty

I take a picture into the fridge if I don’t want to write a shopping list. Good to take a look when shopping. I could otherwise come home with things we already have and forget what is out. Not perfect, you can not see how much left in a package, but still better than my memory

Guy McDowell

I thought of doing this too. Seems like we always have 5 half-eaten jars of salsa and no milk.

Mitesh Budhabhatti

Very common uses.. I thought this article would mention some really cool uses. Examples like translating the menu, or something like that. But thanks for sharing.

Guy McDowell

If you’re using your phone camera with apps to translate menus, I’d classify you as an advanced user. This was meant more for the average person who still treats their phone camera as a Polaroid.

Mitesh Budhabhatti

Hi, believe me, my point here was not to criticize ur article.

Ned

Sooo. Mitesh! Enough with the criticisms! I want to hear your sophisticated suggestions on how to use my phone camera! If what you are saying is that you can photograph a menu with item translations and that is more unique than other uses mentioned already I do not agree. C’mon and share the good stuff!!!

Ned

Sorry, I think I may have misread . You apparently want to photograph a menu for future reference so that you can translate? In other words gathering information for future reference. Lots of that here and more interesting.

Rubis Song

Thank you for this awesome article. I am just crazy of picture. I do take them for each and every situation and sometime my man says I am just really crazy! I have learned a few more occasion from you and certainly my man will see the benefit of it!

Bob Henson

When in a pub, bar or restaurant there are often “dish of the day” or “chef’s specials” menus chalked on a board somewhere as well as the printed menu. To save all six of you from getting up from your table one at a time to go and read it ( or one person trying to memorise the lot) – you can take a phone photo of it, take it back to the table, and you can all read the menu there at your leisure.

Guy McDowell

Yes, same thing goes for subway or bus maps.

Saikat Basu

If you have heard about the Virtual Zippo Lighter App (it’s also free), you have another use for it. You can wave it around like a real flame. It’s the coolest thing to do at rock concerts after head banging.

Anonymous

B.S.O.D – Take picture of error code, helped so much

Thanks for the article!

James Howde

From personal experience I can tell you that many British stores don’t like you taking photos of their stuff, and, of course, it is entirely up to them if you are allowed to.

Mind you if you look less…well scuzzy to be honest than me they might be OK about it.

Guy McDowell

Stores in general don’t like it, but if they’re going to make a fuss then I just won’t shop there.
What are they going to do if Google Glass becomes wide spread?

Eric Montgomery

Great article. Although I don’t agree about haggling prices, instead I use a few different apps that allow me to scan the barcode and find better prices either locally or online like Amazon for instance.

Guy McDowell

If you happen to live in a more urban area, most of the places you shop are online. Much easier.

Where I live it’s a lot of smaller businesses. Plus this works for things like antiquing or yard saleing.

Arsene Chad Cabene

I really like to take a picture with my phone’s camera and directly put it on internet especially HTC’s phone

Kieran Colfer

We use it in work in meetings the whole time, where we use the whiteboard a lot. When you’re finished with the meeting, instead of someone having to write down everything that’s on the whiteboard, you get someone to take a pic of it with their smartphone and send it around.

And no you didn’t fool anyone, they’re called “car boot sales” not “boot sales” :-P

Guy McDowell

Good idea! I’d read that somewhere else too.

I’ll try harder on the British thing next time.

Rodney

I like to use my phone to take pictures of the parts of my body that are not possible to see. Handy for times when you have cuts, bruises, or like I did, have shingles behind my ear.

Take a picture every day and you can show your doctor, even if it goes away before you get there.

Guy McDowell

I was going to mention that, but then I thought the conversation might devolve into a discussion about rectum bleaching or something else equally distasteful.
But it is a valid use. I did that once to see how back a surgical incision was on my back.

Rodney

Well… I guess it did devolve into that, after all, huh? :)

Ned

Why the he#& would someone want to- Awww nevermind!!!

Guy Price

I take pics of model and. Seriel numbers of everything I buy…. Just in case… For warranty, insurance… Repairs etc.

Guy McDowell

I sort of do a similar thing at work. When I swap out a client, I take a shot of the old one’s info and the new one’s info so I can put it into my asset tracker later.

Guy McDowell

I gave your comment a ‘like’ just because we have the same first name! ;-)

Darrell Walery

Take a picture of the list of ingredients in a recipe and off to the store you go….

More great tips like this at http://TipTomato.com
Thanks
dw

Franck Einstein

When I’am in one of these huge impersonnal parking or I have to park in an unusual place I take a pictures of the place where my car is plus if necessary of the surroundings to easily find my way back to my car.

Franck Einstein

When I’am in one of these huge impersonnal parking or I have to park in an unusual place I take a pictures of the place where my car is plus if necessary of the surroundings to easily find my way back to my car.

Franck Einstein

When I’am in one of these huge impersonnal parking or I have to park in an unusual place I take a pictures of the place where my car is plus if necessary of the surroundings to easily find my way back to my car.

Franck Einstein

When I’am in one of these huge impersonnal parking or I have to park in an unusual place I take a pictures of the place where my car is plus if necessary of the surroundings to easily find my way back to my car.

Franck Einstein

When I’am in one of these huge impersonnal parking or I have to park in an unusual place I take a pictures of the place where my car is plus if necessary of the surroundings to easily find my way back to my car.

Franck Einstein

When I’am in one of these huge impersonnal parking or I have to park in an unusual place I take a pictures of the place where my car is plus if necessary of the surroundings to easily find my way back to my car.

Franck Einstein

When I’am in one of these huge impersonnal parking or I have to park in an unusual place I take a pictures of the place where my car is plus if necessary of the surroundings to easily find my way back to my car.

Franck Einstein

When I’am in one of these huge impersonnal parking or I have to park in an unusual place I take a pictures of the place where my car is plus if necessary of the surroundings to easily find my way back to my car.

Guy McDowell

Good idea! I haven’t had to do that since moving to the country though.

Mariel

I use my phone to take pics of my prescriptions — so when I happen to remember to call it in — all the info with the pharmacy number is with me at all times.

I use my phone to take pictures of my ink cartridges in my 3 printers so I have it on me when I happen to think about it or happen onto a sale!!! That’s helped me many times!

I take pics of books I want to read and check them out at the library. I take pics of my computer and camera with all the “stats” listed on the box so if I get tempted to buy a new one — I have all the information of my old stuff on my phone.

I was at a wedding shower where the new mother-in-law gave the bride a book of the groom’s favorite recipes—I took pictures of the recipes I wanted to try! Before I knew it all the “young” girls were doing the same thing (i’m 55).

My spouse has made so much fun of me and my phone with all the notes I have on it — this past weekend it paid off when we were in an office supply store and HE needed a printer cartridge and didn’t know which one to get. After he sweated and was totally aggravated at himself for not know the cartridge numbers — I pulled out my phone. Hmmmm…who’s the “smart” one now???

David Milton

One of the things I use my cell phone camera for is to take pictures of the product labels on devices. You know the ones that have serial numbers and product ids in 4pt type. Then I can zoom in on the picture until I actually can read the number to fill out the registration form.

Back in the days before cell phone cameras (cell phones?) I was walking through a parking lot and saw a car with signs and decals on it for some security services company. Then I saw the trunk of the car where the lock had been yanked out and the trunk lid was held closed with a bent up coat hanger. What I would give to have had a picture of that.

Mark Boeder

I used it yesterday as a magnifying glass to read a serial number from the back of a new piece of electronic equipment.

Guy McDowell

Excellent idea! Especially as I’m finding somethings hard to read as I’m closer to 60 than 20 now.

Juan Pedro Secondo

Done that a couple of times. 43 is an age that makes you hold stuff farther so you can focus but the small text in appliances or medicines is impossible to read without help.

Scott Evans

Great article. Thanks! I haven’t read through all the comments (I will), but I use my smart phone’s camera as a magnifying glass. It works great for that. Try it!
Scott Evans
Colorado

Mark Boeder

I Just used my smart phone camera as a magnifying glass to read a serial number off the back of a new piece of electronic equipment

Tzrinz

i do use it to capture time table etc. at collage bulletin board so dat dere is no more need to stand nd write at da place and also da diagrams of collage lab manual etc.

Derek Sass

You can use the front camera as a mirror to check if your face is clean, make up, etc

Derek Sass

You did also not mention Google Goggles and Google Translate

BobB

I took a picture of a bad circuit board and sent it to a knowledgeable friend to analyze. We determined that it wasn’t suitable for repair and junked it.

Ned

I do not own a scanner. The phone camera is good for documents and receipts unless high quality is important and even then can do pretty well. Resize and crop with Paint. Also handy for photographing a new device IMEI/sn/Bar code sticker.

Other stuff: Travel luggage. I take photos the items that I am going to check at the airport.

Guy McDowell

Remember when having a camera to take pictures of documents was something you saw in spy films? ;-)

Ned

Yeah, pretty amazing. Only now they don’t even have to worry about getting him back in from the field with the film. After hitting ‘send’ our spy may be on his own 8-)

Justin

I use my camera to take pictures of places like my gutters, under my car, in the engine, hard to get into cabinets full of junk or electronics, etc…

Mickey

Because Point and shoot camera’s don’t cost you $50-$100 a month?[forever! this could be thought of as your retirement fund going to a telco.]

Guy McDowell

But if you have a smartphone with a camera anyway….
And most people that already have a phone with a camera will continue to have a phone with a camera.

Joel

Get an iPod Touch, comes w/front and back cameras, no phone, no monthly charge.

John

As your article shows, taking “screenshots” with the camera can be very useful. This is much better now with most monitors being LCD. Photos of old CRT screens had a lot of noise-distortion. Literally millions of ways this can come in handy.
Another of my frequent uses:
One thing that is annoying is when reading a magazine in an office or waiting room and finding an article or recipe has been ripped out by someone. If I see an interesting recipe, I just snap a pic with my phone, then anyone else can enjoy it too. I have a folder in Dropbox that I save these to, and then it’s available on all my devices.
Great article. I love MakeUseOf

Peter bryenton

Photograph the windscreen ticket in a pay & display car park to remember expiry time.

Michele Rule

I take pictures of my children’s art work with my phone, upload them to FB so the grandparents can see them, and then eventually I can recycle without guilt!

Doe

I use it to take a picture of my scheduled DVR tv shows before I have to trade in a dvr cable box because it isn’t working properly. Then when I get the new one installed I can go in and start adding back my shows I was recording.

Tate

Before I got my smartphone, I used to be hassled by cops quite a bit. If you are ever pulled over or in an enforcement situation, having a camera is one of the best ways to protect yourself from the police infringing on your rights. Be polite and don’t try to hide the fact that you are recording them. If they tell you to turn if off, respectfully remind them that they are a public official doing a public duty and therefore have no expectation of privacy; after all, aren’t they supposed to be working for you?

So, stay safe out there. Hopefully you won’t have to use this information.

Guy McDowell

Be careful with that one, especially in the US or if you travel to other countries.
There have been people arrested and convicted for videoing the police.

The greater shame is that we even have to think about doing that.

Phil Tobin

Not sure what phone cameras the writer has actually seen / used, but the question about ‘why buy a camera?’ — though light-hearted — is a bit, well, silly. Cameras are NOT (contrary to what the reviewer might think) all about the digital processor or whatever gubbins is within the digital body, any more than film cameras were about the curtains and sprockets inside them. Cameras are about LENSES, and the day any mobile phone has a lens that’s capable of taking a decent picture is the day when, by all means, the question of phone-cam v dedicated camera can feasibly be asked. As that’s so far away as to be sometime-never, I won’t hold my breath.

I’ve handled and tested countless mobile phone cams and in every case — every case — their output has been no better than that of a ÂŁ10 disposable that Kodak used to sell, complete with one 24mm color film and a plastic lens. The phone-cam images are soft, lacking contrast, and with an edge-to-edge resolution that’s notable only for its complete non-existence.

People use their phone-cams for quick snaps. I wouldn’t be without my HTC Desire HD’s (lousy) phone camera, especially when out shopping. And yes, when lighting conditions are absolutely, totally perfect, with the sun behind me, then my phone-cam will manage a halfway decent image of the scene. Taking pictures with it that are intended to capture holiday memories or family parties etc is a complete waste of time.

Guy McDowell

I totally agree. But a dSLR and a $50 slim camera are two different things. None of my suggestions are intended to suggest that you can do serious photography with a smartphone.
But then again there is a whole movement of people using a cheap Russian 35mm because of the light leaks in it.

Stephanie Staker

While I agree basically about the phone camera vs the digital camera, most of the time (all?) we have our phones with us and can grab a quick photo of a kid or pet doing that incredibly cute thing. If we run into the house and grab our digital camera to take the “incredibly cute thing” photo, the moment is gone; lost forever. THAT is what makes a smartphone camera so worthwhile. I use my “bridge” camera for “portraits” or macro photos of flowers, etc. that I KNOW my smartphone camera cannot do as well. So I sense your critical attitude of the smartphone camera but think about its usefulness as well. In other words, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. :)

Guy McDowell

Well said, Stephanie. The phone camera is this generations Kodak Instamatic, in this way.

John

used the rear camera for looking underneath things – fixed my sliding door gear with it last month. Also for looking behind things for serial numbers and sockets.
You can also look round corners to cheat at hide and seek with the kids.
As for the main camera – I take pics of everything! I have about 40 pics of clouds at sunset for starters!
John

Bob

To take a picture of where you parked at the airport (or mall….etc)

Di

I use screenshot (holding home and on/off button for a split second together on iPhone and iPad ) to snap a pic of google maps directions if I know I’m going to be out of wifi and I’m driving somewhere I’ve never been or unfamiliar – then I just refer to it on my lap as I drive. My kids joined a toy library – great but often little pieces get lost and that incurs a fine on return. Before they can get their little mittens on the toys, I lay them out fully and clearly and photograph it. When a toy has been around for two weeks and it’s time to return you look at the contents list on the bag and you often have no clue what a “1 grey jaws of life” is or “1 red crane and hook” has gone. But by referring to the photo you can easily jog mine and the kids memory!

catherine parke

Great list of uses (though my phone camera is only basic and I hate scrolling through endlessly so limit my shots).
I also use my camera to record where my car is parked if I’m unsure I’ll find it again (even the street sign is handy if in the city); and having been caught by a dodgy council parking fine, I also take a snap of parking restriction signs/my car location if in doubt.
If you need to go to the hardware store for parts to fix an item, you can take pics of the item you’re fixing to show the model type and maybe what the problem is.

Dottie Hicks

Without a mirror and want to see how you look, use the camera in reverse and check it out

Bonnie Frampton Faust

I teach HS English. Most students refuse to use an agenda book to record assignments and due dates, so I let them take a picture of the assignment on the board. Much quicker than copying it down, too! And we all know teens may forget a notebook at school but they NEVER, EVER forget their phones! As for me, I’m in 3 different classrooms…sometimes I take a picture of the board so I can duplicate it verbatim in my other 2 classrooms. I also photograph documents and file them electronically instead of searching the building for a working copier :)

Juan Pedro Secondo

I tried an Android app which turns your camera into a driving copilot. Marks distance to cars in the image and alerts whenever you are driving off road or switching lanes.

That’s something we can use that most complex cameras can’t.

Judy

My son is in the military and stationed throughout the world. As he travels often, he maintains my address as his home address so his mail is sent to my house. I use my camera phone to email/text my son copies of his important mail.

Guy McDowell

Now that’s a GREAT idea.

Gilberto Ledgard

I use my camera to take pics of serial numbers of devices of hard access.

Damon Osborne

I got fed up with driving 20 kilometres to find shops and stores shut which is hard to predict in France so I collect pictures of shop opening hours. Also taking a pic of a phone No is quicker than writing it down. I take pictures of magazine ads for design ideas and wine labels to help find an encore.

Jeanne

Ok, haven’t read the comments yet, so maybe this was discussed but the BEST THING MY PHONE HAS BECOME (with camera) IS…..

MY GLASSES.

Or should I say, my I’m-now-over-40-and-have-long-arm-disease glasses.

I always had perfect sight. Still do for the most part…..except tiny writing that I can’t see close up because I now have to pull my arm out away from face to read…and when the print is small ??? (say, on the back of an advil bottle or microwaveable meal or when I wanted to see if alcohol – which dries out my hair – was an ingredient in the hair shine polish my favorite salon was trying to sell me)…. JUST TAKE A PICTURE OF ANY LABEL and then….do the finger/thumb stretch to ZOOM in – voila!!! Who the heck needs GLASSES?

Jeanne <——making life easier for anyone over 40 but in denial…..(and who has a huge photo album of….labels….on her iphone) ;-)

You're welcome.

J C COX

You forgot one that I find most useful. Apartment hunting. Keeping from wondering which apartment had the large kitchen, etc.

Harsh

Really awesome tips and things we can do with our smart phone’s camrea.. really nice post..

Kent Villard

This was a great article. We need more articles on the web about things that are actually “do-able”. This is why I love this website.

One thing I do is when I’m in the waiting room somewhere and see a magazine article that is interesting or a recipe that I want to try I snap a photo of it (sure beats trying to rip out a page when nobody is looking).

Harkirat Singh

I use my smartphone also as a tally counter.Survival tool . For jokes, for photos, for documentation, as a mp3 player, to-do list, reminder, alarm, email, prayer, pdfs, mirror, recording notes etc.

Guy McDowell

Harkirat, I’d be really interested in you writing a little more on what you mean about using your smartphone as a tally counter and survival tool.

I’m what some people call a ‘Prepper’ and some others call a ‘Survivalist’.

Harkirat

Tally Counter is an app by which you can count anything just by tapping the screen, and survival tool is also an app that has most of the answers if you are screwed, app name is screwed.

Guy McDowell

Thank you Harkirat! I’ll be looking those up.

jelabarre

I don’t actually have a “smartphone” (and have no desire to ever have one), and the featurephone I have has ***NO*** way to actually get the pictures *off* the phone (no microSD, doesn’t link over USB or bluetooth, nothing). So what’s your brilliant idea NOW??? Thanks, but I have a novel, clever device for taking pictures; it’s called a ***CAMERA***!!!!!! And I use my cell-phone for doing something incredibly unusual; making and receiving PHONE CALLS!!!

Guy McDowell

But you CAN take pictures with it and do things like remember where you parked, take a picture of a product, or your kids. You can do a lot of the above mentioned things without having to download the picture from your phone. As for getting the pictures from your phone to another medium, there is always a way. Perhaps send it to your e-mail via sms.

I think you’re just being difficult and this article is about making your life easier.

jelabarre

Sure, pay the cell company yet another exorbitent fee to send text/sms messages. Now *there’s* a solution that’s not going to happen in my household. Just as I have a “feature phone” so I don’t have to pay data charges, I also do not use sms because that’s another wasted function. So I’d have to send my pictures across their expensive network, to some server in some undetermined 3rd-world country, only to be sent *back* to a computer that is 2-3 feet away from the phone??? Yeah, that sounds efficient… NOT. I have a hacked $5 “loyalty camera” from the local drugstore that I keep in the glovebox; with the hack I can download any pictures on my own computer without having to bring it in for “developing”. And my phone remains used for phone-calls only.

Guy McDowell

That’s nice. I’m so happy for you. What a lovely story.

Ron Lister

don’t feed the trolls

Ran Kinory

Before I buy a new item to my collection I check the photo of the collection

Edward Bellair

Magnify small print.

Becky Bowman

I take a picture of each and every drawing and project sent home with my kindergartener. Instead of trying to store each precious paper with the mounds of and glue I take a careful picture of each one. I give it a quick edit and upload it to my favorite site where I’ll make a book at the end of the school year with all of his sweet art projects and I’ll have less clutter.

Carol Furchner

Thanks – great ideas!
When I’m in a meeting and ideas are being written on the board (people still do that!), instead of frantically trying to copy them, take a picture when the board is full.

Eesha

Great post and yes phone cameras are used for everything nowadays. I use them now and then for the following (weird) uses:

1. Took pictures of all my credit cards front and back and then saved it on a file in my laptop (no copies in my cell phone, although you can do that too). This is mostly because the CVV on my cards keeps getting wiped off and I just want to remember the CVV. Im not worried about the security because I keep a check on my statements

2. Take photos of interesting shops in malls that I would go to maybe once in 6 months or I would see something in a shop and be like ‘Hey! Next time I need XYZ, this shop has it!’ I’ll probably browse through my pics in a few weeks and that’ll be a good reminder

3. When I see clothes I want to buy but will wait for the Sale.

Cheers!
Eesha

Guy McDowell

Ideally you would make sure those credit card image files are encrypted as well. Just in case!

Guy McDowell

I am so stoked by all the great ideas and comments that this little story is getting.

Thank you to everyone for their contributions. So many great ideas! We should compile a list out of these or something.

Anonymous

Reading the thoughtful comments on this excellent article made me think that now you may have enough material for a 3-volume book on camera usage! (An e-book, of course.) Recently I was on a ladder that collapsed. I landed on my back on top of the ladder. I had to have repairs at the emergency room. In subsequent weeks, although my wife’s verbal descriptions were entertaining, it was her frequent cell phone photos of my backside that made me fully aware of the colorful black and blue pattern of the ladder rungs on my back that remained for weeks!

Ron Lister

I used mine the other day to take a picture of the model number on the boilerplate of our broken well pressure tank to order a new air bladder. Took the picture looked up the manufacture and model number and found replacement parts. Even found a handy instruction manual for the replacement.

Nice article lots of ideas I hadn’t thought of yet.

Christine Satchell

There is an iphone app ‘fix vegas’ that lets you take a picture of broken infrastructure in the city and then uploads the image to the council to bring it to their attention.

http://www.qut.edu.au/research/research-projects/fixvegas-iphone-application

A completely unrelated use of the camera is that it solves the great omission on the iPhone 5 – the lack of a mirrored apple icon on the back of the phone. The new brushed metal icon is simply useless for applying lipstick on the go, but the camera on selfie view takes over this functionality.

Guy McDowell

Now THAT’s a cool idea. It’s funny how often people will complain about infrastructure damage, but the city has no idea the problem even exists, unless someone tells them.

Very smart. I hope other municipalities pick up on this idea.

David

Working retail hours with an ever shifting schedule? Take a photo of the schedule (requires decent camera on your phone) and you’ll never wonder if you needed to be there at 10 am or 10:30 am. Also I snap photos of recipes before I go shopping. Gives me my shopping list for the week & a handy spot to retrieve the recipe.

Guy McDowell

Definitely a good idea about the schedule. I used to have to photocopy and shrink it down to fit in my wallet. I’m horrible at remembering schedules – just ask my editors! ;-)

Deb

For those businesses that are always changing their hours I just take a picture of the hours that are posted on their doors.

Charlie Carr

Great article, the camera is also useful to taking pictures after you’ve had a car accident, for insurance purposes.

Guy McDowell

Definitely. I used to advise people to keep a disposable camera in their glove compartment for the same reason. Then it was cheap digital camera’s. Now we have this.

Wendy D Calvert

Thank You! This something everyone can use as we trend towards paperless.

NewrĂĽm

Some of my friends take a picture after unplugging the iron. It prevents them from freaking out and going home to check it if the iron was unplugged or not,

Guy McDowell

Yes! I’ve heard of people doing this with the door lock as well. For all those little things that always make us fret and wonder if we missed something.

If I had to do extensive clean up on a site after another tradesman, I’d do before and after pictures. That way if the client complained about the job taking too long, I could show them I had to clean up after the other guy. Made better customers out of them!

Guy McDowell

I just came up with another one…

Taking a picture of the size of my tires. I can NEVER remember that!

Stephanie Staker

What great ideas! I am a new smartphone user and everyday I find something else the phone will do. Now this great post and I see by the comments that there are even more ‘hints’. If I think of any (at this point it is too soon to tell), I will certainly add it here. :) Thanks!

Alexander Fuchs

You need that itinerary from Google maps (or Bing) and don’t have a printer? take a picture. Don’t have time (or paper) to copy the schedule or calendar? take a picture.

Guy McDowell

Thanks to some comments here, I was able to solve a car problem with my smartphone camera the other day.

I used it like an inspection mirror to see the wiring under my dashboard. Now I know what the problem is and it’ll be cheaper to fix than running unnecessary diagnostics.

Ian

When you hire a car, take photos of any existing flaws or damage plus mileage. Then there can be no arguments later as the photos are dated & timed.
Car accidents take photos from all angles to prove blame or not.