Google To Allow Copying Of Images From Chrome To Clipboard On Android

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Google will soon let Android users have access to yet another desktop Chrome feature, namely the ability to copy images to the mobile OS's clipboard.

That's according to a recent commit spotted by XDA Developers over in the Chromium Gerrit code repository. Specifically, the commit points to a review image showcasing how the feature will look on Android devices. The commit itself notes that the change will "Implement copying image to android clipboard" and "Implement copying image to android clipboard via context menu."

That's a fairly straightforward change, allowing Android users access to copying images from Chrome to anywhere in the system. More directly, that would be from the browser to anywhere that allows image pasting. So users would be able to long-press an image in Chrome. Then they'd be able to select a copy image option and then long-press and paste elsewhere.

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How is image copying from Chrome on Android different from current methods?

In its current state, Android only offers up four standard options when an image is long-pressed in the Chrome browser. The first three of those include the ability to open in a new tab, search Google for the image, or share it. Users can actually move the image elsewhere as they might with copying capabilities. But to do that requires a download of the image — the fourth option, second in Chrome's list.

Downloading is not only more time consuming since users have to long-press, download, move to a different app, and then upload again. It's also less secure. Image downloading can bring unchecked code to a device, resulting in a virus or some other malware. In fact, that's a common tactic.

By adding in an option to copy the image, the first advantage is that less data is being stored. It isn't actually downloading the full image.

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The second advantage is in terms of time spend pulling images from Chrome and putting them someplace else in Android. There's no need to upload the image. That will save on data but it also saves on time. Additionally, it saves on time to not need to go through the extra click. With clipboard saving of images from Chrome on Android, a long-press will be usable to "Paste" the image instead of uploading it.

Can you use the new copying feature yet?

The source also revealed an experimental flag setting to go along with the new copy features for Chrome Android. That flag isn't active yet since the Chromium changes haven't been merged but they should become available in one of the beta channels first. That's going to make using the feature easier on Chrome for Android since those instances can be downloaded an run separately. As opposed to needing to switch the entire browser over as might happen with Chrome OS.

To get started, the first browser to see the new feature will likely be Google Chrome Canary. That will likely be followed up with a more stable version of the feature in Google Chrome Dev and Beta. Once that app is installed, users need to pull up the browser and navigate to the "chrome://flags" URL. The feature in question will be findable via the search on that page with a query for "context-menu-copy-image."

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Switching that over to enabled and then restarting the browser either manually or via the on-page prompt will turn the feature on.