Tips + Tricks

A guide to tricks for your storytelling journey into Ponga.

The Ponga Browser-Trick Passport

A guide to tricks for your storytelling journey into Ponga.

At Ponga, few things make us happier than watching crowdsourced stories flow into our members' pictures and albums. These are the nuggets of gold our members seek.

Sometimes we feel like we’re at a frontier provisioning explorers as they prepare for a digital journey back into history. We’re here to give you a better way to…

  • Magically sort pictures by person, adding labels, and adding them neatly into albums.
  • Tell stories in the way that’s easiest and makes the most sense to you — your own voice, written words, pictures, documents, and embedded media
  • Share those pictures without losing control of the content, who views them, and what they can add.

Since Ponga works in your browser, we have a number of tricks at our disposal to make your work easier. Before we through those, let’s start with three key concepts about how Ponga works in a browser.

3 Benefits of Ponga Running in Your Browser

First: Your head may already be in the clouds

If you’re like most people interested in family history, you’ve used services like Facebook groups, Ancestry, or FamilySearch. You probably have for years. When using these services on a desktop or laptop computer, you interact with the site using your browser.

When you upload pictures, play videos, or add comments, you’re engaging with cloud-based software. That’s how Ponga works too. Everything you do in Ponga happens out there, on the internet, and on our servers. Your pictures and content are not stored locally on your computer. That means they’re backed up. They’re also private and protected by our Ponga Terms of Service.

All of the content you and your guests upload to associate with your pictures is stored on our cloud-based servers and those of services you and your guests reference in your Ponga pictures. (While we do not currently support mobile platforms to view and engage with Ponga pictures, you wouldn’t be wrong if you guess we have plans, 😉)

Second: In a browser, no one knows you’re a dog.

At the dawn of the worldwide web, a cartoon about anonymity turned into the adage “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” The Peter Steiner's classic 1993 cartoon in the New Yorker captured the core concept of a user account as distinct from a person.

Your email address is separated from your display name. This is true for you, as our member, and for your guests. While each Ponga account is associated with an email address, you get to determine what “display name” you want to use. You might be very famous in public, but to your extended family, you might to just be known as “Uncle Bob.” That’s fine with us. You can even change it as frequently as you like.

Further, in Ponga, each picture becomes a page accessible from a URL or a link that’s entirely separate from the actual files. This is important because it means that none of the content distorts your original file format. Your full file detail such as metadata and file format is preserved. Ponga makes a working copy of each original image you upload and archives the original for safekeeping.

You can change the title, add a description, and connect as much content as you like without changing the original file. With Ponga’s private service structure, your private pictures stay private. There’s no re-sharing. If you’ve invited someone to contribute to the story growing around your picture, they can’t just repost it to their page or link it to their family tree.

Third: The world’s your oyster, prepare for pearls

These days, most of us tell dozens of micro-stories a day. When we tell a story, it’s just natural now to include details from out there on the Internet. Did you saw a plume of fire? Where’s the picture? Where’s the news story? We share context with every comment by including links, attachments, and media.

At Ponga, we realized that the stories we wanted to tell about our past needed to include the same kind of flexibility. We now support not only display site previews the way iMessage does, but also embed PDF documents and play media like videos on YouTube, podcasts on or SoundCloud, and presentations on SlideShare.


These factors make Ponga a very modern platform. Now you can reference the jewels of content in today’s web to tell your own story.

With that background, let’s take a look at the tricks that can make you more productive with Ponga. As a bonus, you may find these tricks useful in the many other ways you use the web as well.

5 Nifty Browser Tricks You Can Use with Ponga

You know you’re really getting comfortable with software when you have memorized a few key commands. Since Ponga works in your browser, you may already know some of these commands. We hope we have at least a few you’ve never heard of:

1. COMMAND/CTRL-Click: Open in a New Tab

This command opens any link in a new tab. In Ponga, it means that to open a link without leaving a picture or album, just click the link in a new tab press COMMAND (on Mac,) or CTRL (on Windows) and click. Note that since the link opens in a new tab you will have to go to that new tab to explore it, but it does mean that your current window stays open.


To find a picture based on a title in your library, just use your browser to search. Browser search on Ponga works exactly as it would on any other web page. It works to find anything based on the words in the titles of your pictures. The sneaky trick is that if you’re trying to find something, just make your browser window small, like one-picture-tile large, then search. Boom, your browser will bring it right into the viewable area. Have multiple pictures with that word? Keep hitting return and you’ll scroll through them in the viewable area. (Advanced search functions are planned for Ponga itself, this will tide you over.)

An image added as a closeup to a selection previews with text.

3. COMMAND+Shift-4: Selective Screenshot

(On macOS, or Print Screen key-Windows) takes a selective screenshot. This is useful for grabbing a detail such as at the highest resolution then dragging it into a selection as a closeup. Notice that when when you’ve added images into a selection they preview when you run your mouse over the selection. That’s true for the first added image in a selection (if there are multiple) and only if there aren’t any other added media. It’s a great way to show a close-up image, for example here.

4. COMMAND+Shift-4+space: Window screenshot

(MacOS, your cursor turns into a + like a selection target) then add a space, and the entire window or even menu is taken as a snapshot with a delicate shadow.

A screen shot of the Ponga interface as taken in a screenshot on a Macintosh.

5. DRAG-and-DROP to the target, then click Record

Though there are image and record icons in each comment window where you add text, you can’t do all three at once. Adding a picture with a voice is very useful, as it’s a great way to show whose voice it is telling the story. If you want to also include notes, add them as a separate comment either before or after the audio recording. Image first, then voice or image first, then text. You can’t currently combine text and voice in one comment. You also can’t currently include voice, an attached image, and a recording all at the same time.

Other Nifty Browser Tricks

A few other nifty browser tricks you may not have known. Though these don’t have specific applications to use in Ponga, they can improve your productivity by letting you take action without taking your hands off the keyboard.

  • COMMAND/CTRL+t Opens a new tab in the current window.
  • COMMAND/CTRL+SHIFT+T reopens the last tab closed.
  • COMMAND/CTRL+n Opens a new tab in a new window.
  • COMMAND/CTRL+N Open a new Incognito tab in a new window.
  • COMMAND/CTRL+w Closes the current tab.
  • COMMAND/CTRL+Page Up: Switch to the previous tab.
  • COMMAND/CTRL+Page Down: Switch to the next tab.
  • MacOS: CTRL + TAB: Switch to next tab (or scrolls through tabs).

Have tips we should have included?

Drop us a note using the Live Chat button at the bottom Left ⏎ or emailing us at

Cover Image Credit: Photo by jesse orrico on Unsplash

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