Frugal Living » 60 Surprising Uses for a Smartphone Camera

60 Surprising Uses for a Smartphone Camera

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I don’t know about you, but since we’ve started carrying smartphones there are a few Snapshots that we keep in our Phones Photo Album at all times for handy reference. Here are 60 surprising uses for a Smartphone camera that can help save you time, money and more . . .

60 Surprising Uses for a Smartphone Camera

Of course, we store them in a Locked app on the phone so they aren’t accessible by just anyone!

1. Photographs of All of our Vehicles License Plate Numbers- this is especially important when traveling or checking into hotels, etc as the form always asks for your license plate number. It’s also quite handy if your car gets stolen (don’t ask how I know!!)

2. Current Photographs of each family member- this is great if you’re heading into a park (state park, amusement park, etc) that way if you get separated from each other you have an accurate account of exactly what your child was wearing.

3. Recipes from Books or Magazines that you want to make later. It’s not always feasible to take the magazine with you.. like when you’ve been sitting in the waiting room at the Dr.’s office, etc.


4. Photos of all current medication bottles, it makes it much easier to remember the dates the prescription runs out, how many refills are left and what you need. In addition to that, take photos of any vitamins/herbal supplements as well. People often forget to mention to their doctor other natural supplements that they are taking which can have dangerous interactions with medications.

5. Clothing Sizes of each family member, this one comes in handy if you happen across a sale somewhere and you want to stock up for back to school or birthdays, etc.

6. Photographs of your Insurance ID Cards for each vehicle. Again, this one has come in handy so many times for us while camping & traveling. You literally have proof of insurance at your fingertips.

7. If you keep a running grocery list hanging on the fridge, you can save time by just snapping a quick photograph of it.


8. Wine or Liquor Bottles that you’ve enjoyed while out with friends and want to remember the brand and flavor so you can find it again another time.

9. Before Grocery Shopping- snap a photo of the contents inside your fridge and pantry so you have a quick recall of what you have on hand, you’ll be less likely to forget necessary items.

10. Pets & their ID tags! It’s also helpful to snap photos of important documents such as rabies vaccination certificates or EIA/CVI Vaccine Certificates (Transporting horses), etc. It makes it easier to report them immediately if they become separated from the family and some parks, hotels, etc require proof of vaccines. Rather than carry all the documents around, you have them on hand.

11. If you’re trying to keep track of rapidly changing grocery store prices, snap photos of the price while you’re there and when you have a few minutes’ spare time, you can review the prices by date.

12. Snap photos of playlists on your friends’ phones (if they have good taste in music) then you’ll have a chance to look up the songs and add them to your own playlist.

13. One of my favorite things to do when I have a few minutes is perusing the local bookstore. Snap pictures of titles that catch your interest and then you’ll have a new read list to check out from the local library.

14. Take Pictures of your Printer Cartridges. We have 3 different printers in this house (an accumulation over the years!) and it can be difficult to remember which printer takes what! A quick scan of the phone and we’re back on track!


15. When you purchase a new appliance or electronic item, take a photograph of the serial number and the manufacturer logo, etc. This will make it much easier if you ever need to contact a service repair person or the manufacturer. Plus the photo will automatically be dated so you’ll know when you purchased it as well.

16. I have a tendency to be the “electronic guru” in our house. What they don’t realize is that all I do is snap a photo of the wires BEFORE I unplug them all so that I can quickly reconnect anything that needs to be moved. This is really handy if you have to pack everything up and move because it can be weeks before you’re unpacking everything again.


17. Insurance Photos- take detailed photographs of each room, (don’t overlook the garage)! This will come in handy as proof for the insurance company in the sad event that you have a fire, storm damage or theft/break-in.

18. Use the Google Map feature when traveling to map out your route, then snap screenshots of the entire trip page by page. That way, if the satellite cuts out in a crappy service area, you’ll still have a decent map to go by.

19. Keep track of the spices and seasonings you have on hand by snapping a photo of your spice rack. Nothing stinks more than reaching for some fennel seed and having 4 bottles of cinnamon and not much else!

20. If you have to remove photographs or other wall hangings to put up seasonal decorations, snap a shot of the picture grouping so you can put it all back together quickly and effortlessly. This is also helpful if you’re moving and want to “recreate home” at your new place.

21. Before lending an item to someone, have them hold the item or stand beside the item and then take a picture. Erase the photo when they return the item, then you always know where that item went and what condition it was in when you lent it out!

22. Are you a bit OCD? Before heading out the door on a long trip, take a photo of the curling iron in the bathroom (safely turned off And unplugged) or of the knobs on the stove in the OFF position. .. it will keep you from freaking out an hour into the trip and having to call someone to double-check for you. Confession time, Yes, I’ve done that.

23. Dining out someplace nice? Take a photo of the coat check ticket and of the valet parking. A person is much more likely to lose a small slip of paper than their phone. (I know, I know- WHO ever gets to go out where there’s a coat check and Valet parking?! The FIRST time I encountered this scenario was on my 10th Wedding Anniversary!)


24. Have a teenager at home spending a bit too much time on the couch? Snap photos of the help wanted signs so they know where they can apply for a job.

25. This one was shared with me by my son in college who had a professor who routinely misplaced the students’ homework. . . snap a photo of the paper just before you hand it in and be sure to keep it until the paper comes back graded. He went a step further and literally snapped photos of himself handing the homework to her. Problem solved.


26. Purse and Wallet Contents- snapping photos of each of your credit cards (again ensure these are in a LOCKED & Secure App) will help you in the event that someone steals your purse or if you accidentally leave it somewhere. The phone numbers to contact each company to close the account or report the missing card will be at hand. It will also be easier if you decide to order something online.

27. Keep a picture of your own license (and/or passport) in your phone as well. Be sure this is in a locked app. This comes in handy!

28. Nothing frustrates me more than having 25 different “Rewards” cards hanging from my keychain. Did you know that the extra weight of all those gadgets can actually cause damage to your ignition? Take photos of the rewards cards and you’ll always have a quick scan at your fingertips for easy savings.

29. Do you have a tendency to share your home network username and password with guests who come to visit? If so, take a snapshot of the username and password and the next time someone asks, you can text it to their phone.


30. If you have a favorite shampoo, make-up or other hair products, snap a quick photo- this is especially handy if you have specialty products with odd names as many companies change “scents” frequently.

31. During the winter months many of the local business change their store hours. Snap a photo of the hours (usually posted on the door) so you can check quickly and easily if they’re open, saving yourself time and gas money.

32. If you have a hard time remembering what type of lightbulbs fit your fixtures it can be helpful to snap photos. We have odd sized track lighting fixtures and finding bulbs that fit can be a nightmare. It’s great to have a quick reference on the phone, I was able to get a box for 75% off right after the holidays.

33. In following with the tip above, it’s also helpful to snap a photo of the air filter size needed for your furnace and air conditioning units. Remember that these units function better with clean filters and the sizes vary considerably.

34. Do you like to visit craft or home shows? Snap photos of your favorite “DIY” projects so you can remember what they looked like and tackle them at home yourself!

35. Stuck in a parking garage or giant parking lot? Snap a photo of the space number or location pole so you can find your vehicle quickly and easily.


36. Do you pay your bills online? Snap a photo of the confirmation number so you’ll have an “instant receipt”, just in case the payment gets applied to the wrong account or fails to go through.

37. Been in a Fender Bender? Snap a photo of your own car and any other vehicles involved in the incident, particularly if the vehicles need to be moved before police can arrive. Be sure to wait for officials though, in many states insurance companies will NOT pay if a police report is not filed!

38. If you’re the kind of person that needs to look at an item in person before purchasing it, but you know you’ll find it cheaper online, snap a photograph of the bar code. You can scan a product barcode instantly with your phone and then find the cheapest price online, saving your money.

39. Check the batteries on your Remote Controls! The remote control uses IR (infrared lights) that are not visible to the human eye. Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether or not the battery is dead or if the remote has gone to sony heaven.

Point the remotes infrared light at the camera, press down any button on the remote (to make it light up) and snap a picture. If you see a light, the problem isn’t with the remote, it’s another issue. If you don’t see a light, time to replace the batteries.

40. No disassemble number 5… if you have a habit of taking things apart to fix them yourself, take a photograph of the item BEFORE you disassemble it. That way you’ll be able to remember how to Reassemble it! Wish my son had done this before he took my toaster apart!

41. Shopping around? Retailers have heard it all, if you’re price checking one store and intend to get another store to match or beat it, take a photo of the display in the store, then you’ll have concrete proof for price matching.


42. Shipping woes? Recently I mailed a gift package to a friend, it was in mint condition when it left my house, when it arrived at her place, it looked like someone threw it from a 12 story building. Luckily I had photos of the package in the hands of the Fed Ex guy, so it was clearly covered.

43. Use the camera to view hard to see places- for me it’s usually snapping a photo of the back of the tv in order to see where to plug-in USB or video cords… but if you have little kids running around, you may find yourself using this tip to see small items they’ve crammed up their nose or in their ears. The smartphone makes a great scope!

44. Trying to get Fit and keeping a food journal takes too much time during the workday. Snap a photo of everything you eat, you may be surprised by the end of the week at just how much you’re consuming!


45. If you’re heading into a restaurant with the family or a group of friends, snap a quick photo of the daily specials, that way you’re not asking your server to repeat him or herself to hear them again, you’ll have a handy reference.

46. Do you use local City transportation? Snap a photo of the subway or bus route maps for quick reference so you don’t miss your stop.


47. If your computer blanks out on you with the blue screen of death (like mine did this week) use your phone to snap a photo of the error message, these generally disappear within mere seconds and it’s much easier to figure out what went wrong when you can take your time to read the message.


48. If you have a recipe you want to prepare, snap a picture of it so you’ll remember which ingredients to pick up while at the grocery store.

49. Grandparents or other family members live far away? Snap photos of the kids’ artwork and upload them to Facebook, then, if you don’t happen to “save” that particular piece of art, you won’t feel as guilty. (Says the mom whose kid is in college and she still has 12 posterboard suitcases of artwork stored).


50. Swapping Cable or satellite companies? Snap photographs of the DVR recording schedule so you don’t accidentally overlook one of your favorite shows.

This is great when you’re playing the Dish/DirectTv game… you know the one, when the company will give NEW customers perks but they ignore their Current customer so you have to dump them and move to the other company, wait 2 years till your contract runs out and then do it all again just so you can get a decent break… Yeah, that game.

51. Students- if you don’t like to carry a planner or agenda book around with you, take a daily snapshot of the assignment board. Most teachers will be thrilled you’re actually using your phone for something useful, rather than texting.

52. Do you have a loved one in the Military? Use the phone to take pictures of any mail they receive that is important to them and text it so they can see it while they’re deployed.

53. Are you hard to shop for or have the problem of never being able to think of something that you want (when someone directly asks you!), snap a photo of things while you’re out and about. If you’re at a store and you see something that catches your eye and you “wished you had one” take a photo.

Then when the holidays roll around and your loved ones ask you what you want, you can message them different pictures and there will be no question as to what the item is or where you saw it.

54. Going tire shopping? Snap a photo of the size of the tire before you go in, by the time you’re done picking out the tread and style, chances are you’ll have a hard time remembering what size tire you need without having to trek back out into the parking lot.


55. Renting a Car? Snap photos of the rental cars license plate as well as ANY damage done to it BEFORE you leave the lot. It helps to ensure the employee is standing near the car as well.

56. If you’re an avid Do it Yourself’er you probably have an overload of ideas you’d like to try. Keep these organized and at your fingertips by snapping photos of gardens, projects, decorations or anything else you’d like to document.

57. Do you have an ICE (In Case of Emergency) contact stored in your phone? Most phones are locked these days and the ICE contact may not be accessible to EMT or police. Screenshot the ICE and use it as your lock screen. This will ensure that the correct info will be given to emergency workers or to help get your phone

58. Are you a member at a local gym, recreation center or spa? Take a photo of the monthly classes that are posted for quick reference, you’ll never miss yoga again! Well, not because you didn’t know when the class was, at least. 😉

59. Use it as a mirror to avoid embarrassment.. did you just have broccoli for lunch (are you positive it’s not lingering between your teeth? Turn your camera on and take a peek! I used mine last summer to dig a piece of wood out of my eye while helping my husband with a project.

60. Use it to identify native plants, shrubs, and flowers. Download an app known as Plant Snap, snap a photo and it will return information to help identify the plant. This is particularly useful when camping with the kids or geocaching!

clever smartphone uses

61. Last, but certainly not least.. one of my favorite uses for the smartphone is that I know exactly where my kids are and who they’re with… when they ask if they can go to a certain friend’s house and I say yes, I periodically check in on them. I ask them to send me a photo of them with said friend.

Now, in order to ensure that the photo is “of the moment” I’ll ask that they do something in particular such as give a thumbs up, pinky swear, both roll their eyes, take a photo in front of a certain object (such as the garden gnome that I know is on their lawn), etc.

It’s worked out quite well for us, I know they’re living, breathing, un-maimed and where they’re supposed to be and they’re not getting phone calls from mom.

What uses do you have for your smartphone camera? We’d love to hear your suggestions . . .


© Can Stock Photo Inc. / SSilver

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11 thoughts on “60 Surprising Uses for a Smartphone Camera”

  1. I have done only a few of your cell phone snaps. These are great ways to look smart and all together . Here is another one,take a snap-shot of where you parked your car.

    Row number if possible. If not in front of building where you parked , or landmark. Guess how I know about this one.

  2. When someone comes home from surgery, take a picture of the place operated on. If any thing goes wrong with it just fax the picture into the Doctors office or ER. We did this 3 weeks ago when my sister had extra bruising and a tube slightly pulled out.

    When seeing it, we were told to take a black marker and draw around the bruise. In the morning we could see the bruising had grown outside of the line and went to the ER as told. We had pictures of all the things happening with the site.

    It was very helpful for the Doctor.

  3. If you have teens that have friends that are of driving age, or they go out on a date, take a picture of the drivers Drivers Lic. and a picture of the vehicle and lic. plate.

    That way if (lord forbid) anything happens you will have all the info you need to give to the police if need be. I always tell my girls that I don’t want to be the mom that says, “she left with her friend susie, no I don’t know her last name, I don’t know the lic. plate number but I know the car was blue….i think.


  4. This is so………..great!! I do not carry around a camera anymore, but you reminded me of so many things that will be helpful. Taking a pic of license # and insurance information is great.

    Thank you for all your hard work. I rent a car a least once a month and I never thought to take a pic for any problems.:worthy:

  5. My mother in law suffers from agoraphobia and can’t leave the house, her work is selling things on eBay, her husband would go to store sales and yard sales, estate sales and snap photos of items, then send pics to her cellphone where she would look at the items and prices and choose which items he would buy for her to resell on eBay for a modest profit. It worked great for them.

  6. When my girls started dating, I always wrote down the info from the young mans drivers license and car tag info. The smart phone pictures are a much better alternative for moms of teens. Thank you for all the great ideas.

  7. I love the post, I’ve used about 2/3’s of these & some I didn’t think of I will put to use. I did want to add to this that to keep all of these organized I use “” it is so easy to find what you need & fast so your not flipping through all your photos. I also use “” to back up every pic I take automatically that way if I lose my phone or my phone crashes I will never lose my photos and you can organize them also.

  8. When my sister and I go on a shopping trip to the Lake of the Ozarks Outlet Mall, we shop several stores and don’t want to spend all our money at the first store so as we try on something we take a picture of what we like and a pic of the store sign that way we know where to go at the end of the day for whatever things we choose to buy!

  9. #28, there is an app that I have on my phone instead of using all my memory/space from using my camera to snap shot all my cards. The app is called Key Ring, you can snap shot your rewards card into the app. When you go to that particular store, all you have to do is open you app and they can scan your card from there. It’s an awesome app and doesn’t take away memory from your phone.


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