How To: Capture & Manage Images Or Videos With A Chromebook

With Chrome OS really beginning to hit its stride and new features added all the time, device manufacturers are increasingly looking to differentiate their hardware with the addition of more and better camera components. Coupled with a steady flow of improvements to the file management system and to the camera software itself with each of those updates, capturing photos and videos with the laptops or tablets no longer feels like a chore.

Now, for those unfamiliar with the operating itself that doesn't necessarily negate the inherent learning curve. Regardless of how intuitive Chrome OS can be, especially for those who have used Android in the past, it's not going to be perfectly easy to work out for everyone. For those who want a primer into snapping or shooting from these devices or maybe just want to refresh their memory, the process can be broken down into a few easy steps.

Choosing your app

The first step in snagging and managing photos or video footage in Chrome OS is fairly straightforward and should be fairly familiar for those who have used apps via mobile before. With full access to Android apps, that's not limited to the relatively ill-optimized or featureless stock camera either but that's the app we'll be using for this walkthrough.

Irrespective of which camera application has been chosen, users will need to first navigate to the app launcher found under the Chrome OS shelf and locate their app. There are a few ways to do that since the most recent update -- to Chrome OS 74, as of this writing -- and the easiest will be to simply click the circle icon at the bottom left of the UI before tapping or clicking the up-arrow icon at the middle.

Doing that will load up every application available on the Chromebook and, if those have been organized into folders, the camera app may be housed within one of those. Conversely, the Assistant bar that appears before the up-arrow is tapped or clicked can be used to search for the desired camera app. If that's been used recently, the app's name and representative icon may appear just below that Assistant input UI.

Taking the shot

Once the app is loaded up, the interface is going to vary widely depending on the app used. For the primary UI in the preloaded camera app, things are kept very simple. A settings button is present in the top left-hand corner for adjusting various geo-tagging, pixel count, and sound features.

A grid icon and timer are found on the left-hand side toward the center of the UI and do what their names imply. For devices with two cameras, a switcher icon is located on the same side at the bottom.

Those who have used Android before will notice a familiar tap-to-focus feature, ensuring that the camera will focus on whatever portion of the viewfinder users have tapped or clicked on last.

Set dead-center in the interface along the bottom of the page, users will notice a circle icon and a secondary circle icon with a video camera icon inside. The first of those is used to capture images and that operates in a very point and shoot fashion. One tap or click equates to one photo captured.

The second icon for video captures works a bit differently than the first. Interacting with that icon brings forward a separate capture UI along the bottom expressly for capturing video. That will show an icon to return to the standard camera and a red-dot-shaped record button. Tapping the record button starts recording immediately and changes the icons yet again to show a pause, stop, or still-capture icon. The latter of those captures stills mid-shoot.

Tapping the pause button switches that icon to a record icon and the center icon shrinks down but remains a stop icon to halt recording. Hitting the latter button does just that, cutting off recording at the moment it's pressed. While a recording is ongoing, users can track the time elapsed with a counter at the top of the screen.

Finding the files

The quickest and easiest way to review footage or an image that's been captured is via the in-app gallery cut-out. That's represented as a circle in the bottom right-hand corner, showing the last image or a snapshot of the last video to be captured. Tapping that will open the media up in the built-in Chrome OS gallery.

The saved media files can also be found in the file management system itself. They'll be saved either to the "Downloads" folder or to the appropriate section of the "Play files" directory under the "My files" directory in the "Files" application. In this case, because the stock camera app was used, those are found in the "Downloads" folder. The Files application can be found in the same app launcher where the camera is found by searching or by accessing the full drawer of apps.

Users can interact with the files within their given location or can move them around first, including to their own self-created organization of folders -- via a right-click from within the "My files" directory. The files may be under a folder for a specific app if one from the Play Store has been used and files may not save properly if the user hasn't given access permissions upon initial launch of that app, just as is the case in Android.

Sharing and other actions

After saving the photos to an appropriate location, all that's left to do is edit and share them or simply back them up. We won't go into the details for how to back up photos to Google Photos or the specifics regarding editing here. Instead, we'll focus on how to quickly access sharing options and those kinds of actions -- which can all be accomplished directly in the Files application.

There are effectively three options for deeper interactions with a photo or video, beginning with an easy-double click or double-tap to open the items in the default gallery view. That's accessible via right-click actions too and the default editor has plenty of basic editing or sharing options available directly in that app, as in other downloadable Android apps or web apps.

Those who want more in-depth interactions via apps, users will want to right-click on an image or photo file by pressing the touchpad with two fingers, holding the 'alt' key while clicking, or via a long-press on devices with a touchscreen. That action brings up a context menu that isn't too dissimilar to the one found in Windows or on Mac computers.

Within that context menu are two options we want to look at here, labeled "Open with..." and "More actions."

The "Open with..." option is going to be the selection to choose for deeper editing via a downloaded app. After an app such as Photoshop Express or Pixlr is installed, tapping or clicking on that option will list available apps where the file can be opened. That's also where users will see the option to save an image or video in Google Keep.

By tapping or clicking on the "More actions" choice, other options will be brought forward, comprised of secondary actions that can be performed based on the file type. From there, users can upload a video to YouTube, send out a social media post containing the media, upload things to Google Drive, and access similar sharing or back-up features.

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About the Author
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Daniel Golightly

Senior Writer
Daniel has been writing for AndroidHeadlines since 2016. As a Senior Staff Writer for the site, Daniel specializes in reviewing a diverse range of technology products and covering topics related to Chrome OS and Chromebooks. Daniel holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Software Engineering and has a background in Writing and Graphics Design that drives his passion for Android, Google products, the science behind the technology, and the direction it's heading. Contact him at [email protected]