50 Surprising And Useful Ways To Use Your Phone’s Camera

photos of various uses for your phone's camera

Surprising Phone Camera Hacks

I recently read an article about snapshots you should keep in your smartphone’s photo album that I thought was quite interesting. But what I really found fascinating (and surprising) were all the OTHER great ideas included in the comments on that article!

I had no idea there were so many cool things to do with phone cameras, so I spent all afternoon reading and digesting them all. There were so many good ideas that I decided to create my own list of phone camera hacks, and that’s exactly what I’ll be sharing with you today!

Related: 11 Photos You Can Take That Will Make Your Life Easier

If you’re like me, you probably already use your phone to keep notes of things you want to remember. Writing this post helped me realize that not only is my phone camera faster and more accurate than taking notes, but the sheer number of ways you can use it is life-changing!

Check out the list below, and I think you’ll agree!

50 Uses For Your Phone’s Camera

taking a phone photo of a dog and taking a phone photo of a walgreens rewards card

Important Documents At Your Fingertips

1. Take pictures of the front and back of your credit cards and store them in a secure storage app on your smartphone, like Keepsafe or Lockit. Then when you’re buying things online, you can just take a look at the photos instead of having to get out your wallet.

2. Keep a photograph of your driver’s license and/or passport identification page in a secure storage app on your phone.

3. Take a picture of your wallet opened, showing just enough of each card so you can identify what each card is. Then if your wallet is ever stolen, you can refer to the photo to determine what cards you need to replace.

4. Snap a photo of your license plate for use when you are at the DMV or filling out a form for a parking pass. I can NEVER remember my license plate number when I need it, so this has been really helpful! :-)

5. Keep a photo of your pet and their ID and/or vet tags. That way you can report it immediately if your kitty or puppy goes missing, heaven forbid!

6. Take photos of your reward membership cards for store rewards programs. (Don’t forget to make sure your membership number or ID is visible in the photos!)

woman taking a phone photo of her outfit in a mirror and looking at outfits photos on her phone

Remember The Things You Like

7. If you try a wine at a party or restaurant that you really like, take a photo with your smartphone! Snap a photo of the label on the wine bottle so you’ll be able to remember the brand and the year later on.

8. When you see a recipe in a magazine or on TV that you want to try out, snap a picture with your phone! Much easier than running to find a pen and paper.

9. If one of your friends or family members has a great playlist, snap a picture of the playlist using your phone.

10. When walking through the bookstore, take photos of books that interest you. Then you can check to see if they are available at your local library before committing to buying them!

11. Take pictures of your favorite makeup and hair products, including brands, product lines, and colors or shades. Then if you see them on sale somewhere, you’ll have all the info you need to buy them right then and there!

12. Use your smartphone camera to snap photos of lovely gardens, interesting yard art, and cute holiday decorations that you see when you’re out and about. You can use those photos later on as inspiration for your own home decor!

13. When you find a new artist on Pandora or Spotify that you want to remember, take a screenshot for reference later.

14. Take photos of yourself in different outfits from your closet. Then on mornings when you’re in a rush and don’t know what to wear, you can use the photos for easy reference!

15. When shopping with the kids, take photos of the toys they want for Christmas or their birthday. Then later they can go through the pictures in your phone and make their lists.

woman taking a phone photo of dishes in a kitchen cabinet

Make Shopping For Home Decor & Furnishings Easier

16. Take pictures of furnishings you are considering buying, ideally with price tag showing. Use the photos to get a second opinion from your friends or partner.

17. When you’re shopping at IKEA, skip the golf pencil and use your phone’s camera to take photos of the product tags instead. It’s quick and easy, and you won’t waste any paper!

18. Another way to use your smartphone camera at IKEA is to snap a photo of the dimensions of your car’s tailgate. That will help you decide what will fit in your car, and what won’t!

19. When moving from one apartment/home to another, take pictures of your wall art so you can remember how you had grouped. Then you can duplicate those groupings in your new place.

taking a screenshot of a map of paris on a phone

On Your Travels

20. While traveling, take a screenshot of any map routes you might need and save them to your phone. The photos will allow you to access the directions you need, even if you end up in remote areas with spotty cell service.

21. If you’re renting a car on your trip, take a picture of the car and its license plate. It’ll be a big help when checking in at hotels, and especially if you need to find it but can’t remember what it looks like!

22. Take pictures of each room you stay in for insurance purposes in the event of theft, fire, or other disaster.

23. When traveling out of the country, take a screenshot of a currency converter “cheat sheet.”

taking a phone photo of the inside of a fridge

Food & Kitchen Ideas

24. I like to keep a dry erase board or chalkboard in the kitchen to keep a list of things that I need to get at the grocery store. Instead of transcribing it to a paper list, I just snap a photo of it with my phone before I head out to go shopping.

25. If you’re going grocery shopping for ingredients for a recipe, snap a photo of the recipe before you leave the house. You’ll be able to easily reference it while shopping, so you can be sure you have everything you need.

26. When buying from a bulk bin at the grocery store, snap a picture of any cooking instructions on the bin.

27. Take a picture of your spice drawer or rack before heading out to restock. That way you don’t end up with 5 bottles of dill, but no cinnamon! (Not that that’s ever happened to me…) ;-)

28. Take a picture of the contents of your fridge before going grocery shopping. You can refer to the photo to see what you do and don’t have.

taking a phone photo of a printer ink cartridge and taking a phone photo of the parts of a carpet cleaner

Frequent Purchases

29. Snap a photo of your printer cartridges, making sure you can see the model numbers.

30. Take a picture of all of your appliances, including the manufacturers logos and serial numbers, for future service calls.

31. Take a picture of the cable placement on any audio/video gear before unplugging anything!

32. Take pictures of the tag, bar code, or product info for items you’re interested in buying. You can often find the exact same items online for a cheaper price.

33. Take a picture of all the hardware and software specifications on your computer screen and save it on your phone.

woman talking a phone photo of her car

Help For Emergencies

34. Snap a picture of your kids when you are heading out to a crowded amusement park, mall, sporting event, etc. If anyone gets separated, the photo will help you accurately describe their hair, what they are wearing, etc.

35. Take a screen shot of your iCE (In Case of Emergency) contact information, and set the photo as the lock screen for your phone. That way if you’re in an accident and incapacitated, someone can easily access your iCE info.

36. In case of a minor fender bender, pull out your smartphone. Use the camera to document the damage, and snap pictures of insurance cards and drivers license information. It could help avoid a much more serious situation!

taking a phone photo of a to-do list on a phone

Stay Organized At Work & School

37. Help out your classmates or coworkers by sending them photos of relevant information if they’re late to a meeting. (If it’s a lunch meeting, text them a photo of the restaurant menu and ask if you can place an order for them!)

38. Use your phone’s camera alongside the Evernote app to get really organized. Use the Notes app to scan documents into PDF files, then upload the files to Evernote. Evernote Premium accounts have access to optical character recognition software that makes text within PDFs searchable. (The free Adobe Scan app offers this useful feature too!)

39. Keep a running Shopping or To Do list while at work on a pad of paper, then before you leave, snap a photo and put it as your screensaver. Instant list that can’t be lost or misplaced!

40. A helpful tip for students is to take pictures of that particular night’s homework assignment. That way you don’t have to pack all your books home!

41. Another tip for students is to take photos of your homework before you hand it in. This is especially helpful for students with forgetful teachers that have a tendency to “misplace” schoolwork.

taking a phone photo of a wifi login written on a notepad

Keep Important Information Handy

42. Keep a photo of your home’s wireless network and password to text to visitors.

43. Keep a photo of the ever-changing monthly class schedule at your local spa, gym, recreation center, etc.

44. Take pictures of the business hours posted on the door of places you go to occasionally, like the library, post office, etc.

45. Snap a picture of the class list on the 1st day of school to help learn your child’s classmates’ names.

taking a phone photo of a coatcheck tag

Miscellaneous & Silly Things

46. Take pictures of your friends with the stuff they borrow from you so you’ll remember who has what.

47. Take pictures of “Help Wanted” signs to send to your kids.

48. Take a picture of your coat check ticket if you have a tendency to lose little things!

49. Before leaving the house for a trip, take a photo of your stove, hair straightener, or coffee maker in the “OFF” position. (This prevents those “freak out” moments when you start wondering if you left it on!)

50. Keep a copy of your best “selfie” shot for emergency updates to your Facebook profile. ;-)

Protect Your Sensitive Photos And Documents!

  • Due to the inherent risks of taking photos of sensitive items like credit cards, financial information, and important documents, it’s a good idea to store those photos in a secure place.
  • Apps like Keepsafe provide a secure “locker” for photos and documents that is separate from your phone’s main photo gallery.
  • Photo lockers are typically pin or password protected so that you are the only one who can access it.
  • Keeping your personal information secure only takes a little bit of extra effort, and it could help protect you from identity theft and other forms of fraud.

What else do you use your phone’s camera for?