Snap Preview Anywhere, known as Snap Shots, Snap Shots Integrator, mShots, and many other names, is considered by many as one of the most annoying “gimmicks” on the web, continues to be enabled by default on WordPress.com blogs. Many new bloggers are still “testing” this gimmick which allows a thumbnail preview or feed view of the linked content when the mouse hovers over the link.
When it first came out, a lot of top bloggers took it for a test drive, then soon realized how much it interfered with the reading and interaction of their blogs, annoying readers. Wise bloggers know that anything that gets between a reader and the blog content loses readers.
Note: Over the years since its release, Snap Preview Anywhere has changed its names many times. As of 2009, WordPress.com turned away from Snap Preview to use their own in-house version, mShots. The following instructions show how to turn off the Snap version as well as the WordPress.com mShots version. For more help on WordPress.com, check out the many discussions on how to turn off and disable mShots.
After a lot of research myself, the only justification I’ve found for using Snap Preview/Snap Shots is for sites which provide links to blog reviews, Theme reviews, or graphics. The tiny thumbnail view of the visual aspect of the site or image matches the theme of the post content.
The main three reasons that so many people don’t like it are:
- It pops up a thumbnail without warning as their mouse moves over the link, even accidentally, startling the reader and covering up content they are trying to read.
- It doesn’t meet with accessibility standards and makes reading content hard for those with visual impairment.
- Since this is installed on a blog by its owner (or by default unfortunately by WordPress.com), single hosted WordPress and WordPress.com blogs must take action themselves to turn this off, often after a backlash from their readers.
- The only way for the reader to turn it off on a global scale is through an “opt-out” program, forcing the reader to visit the Snap Preview site to turn it off. The site turns it off for that IP address. Switch IP addresses by moving to another computer, Internet service, or otherwise, and it’s back.
It doesn’t add value to your blog. It’s hard to even see what’s in the small thumbnail image. It takes time and bandwidth to load the popup. You should be able to make it go away by clicking anywhere on the page away from the popup, which sometimes takes a long time to go away, and may cause you to inadvertently click a link, causing you to leave the page and forcing you to back up to the original page, or just leave it in frustration.
On the Snap Preview Anywhere/Snap Shots popup, there is an option to disable it. I’ve clicked this numerous times and it has never worked (Update: It currently works, but if you change computers, locations, or renew your IP address – it stops working). It also interferes with one of my most powerful blog post writing tools, the Copy Link Text (CoLT) Firefox Extension which allows me to quickly copy and paste full code-ready links into my blog posts. Since implementation of Snap Preview/mShots on the WordPress.com blogs, including the main site pages, it takes me an addition ten to twenty minutes to generate my weekly WordPress Wednesday News reports as I do battle for the links with the popup windows.
If you want the gimmick, leave it turned on.
If you want it turned off:
- In WordPress.com blogs: Go to Presentation/Appearance > Extras and uncheck the Snap Preview/Snap Shots/MShots feature box to disable it on your blog. Click Update to save the changes.
- Full Version WordPress Blogs: In order to work on a full version WordPress blog, the Snap Preview WordPress Plugin must be installed and activated. To disable it, deactivate the Plugin and remove it from your blog’s server.
- Opt-Out and Disable Snap Preview Globally: In theory, you can disable Snap Preview on a site-by-site basis through the popup windows, but it has never worked for me. Or you can visit their site and disable Snap Preview there, but it only disables it per IP address. It will stop you seeing it on any web page with the feature enabled. (I’ve not found a way to globally block mShots on WordPress.com blogs.)
- Ask Your Favorite Blogger: If you find it on a favorite blog, ask the blogger to stop using it. They may like the gimmick effect and not realize how much it is annoying you and the other readers. They won’t change anything until you let them know.
Need a second opinion? ShandyKing disabled Snap Preview based upon feedback from his readers, even after he posted an article that got him in the top rankings listing the top 100 blogs using Snap Preview.
I’ve installed Snap a week ago and have asked my readers for their honest feedback. After a week of testing it out I have decided to remove it from my site. In fact I have come to the conclusion this tool hurts website owners more then helps them.
Before I go into why I feel the way I do about it I would like to congratulate the folks over at Snap on creating a viral product and for additionally getting WordPress to agree on making their plug-in available on 600,000 Blogs.
…It sucks on my part to find out that I was placed on the top 100 then have to tell the world why I don’t want to use it. Since I did request public feedback, I should be honest and report my opinions on it.
There are alternatives to Snap Preview. Cooliris allows the user to click a link to open the preview popup window, rather than have it forced upon you. If any similar product is to have success, it must allow the user to completely control their experience. Allow them to choose whether or not they want to see the popup previews, don’t force them upon them, or make them do a dance to remove it from their view.
Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network, and author of Blogging Tips, What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging.