Tech Guide

Amazon's iPhone app now lets you find parts for building and repairing things — here's how to use it

Key Points
  • Amazon's iPhone app can scan physical fasteners like screws and nuts and search for them on the site.
  • The service is called "Part Finder" and it helps you search for replacement parts for things around the house.
  • Make sure you have a penny and a white background for the scan.
Geber86 | Vetta | Getty Images

If you're the type of person who spends weekends fixing and repairing things around the house, you know what it's like when you're missing a couple screws that are critical to getting a job done.

Amazon's iPhone app has a feature called "Part Finder," which TechCruch has just covered, that lets you take a picture of the item you need and then search for it on the site.

Maybe you have an old chair with rusted screws that you'd like to refinish, for example. Or maybe you accidentally stripped a screw for a futon you're trying to put back together. Normally, you'd have to take that part — a screw, a washer or a bolt — to a place like Lowe's or Home Depot and try to find one that's the exact same size.

Here's how to use Amazon's new tool:

Open the Amazon app on your iPhone and then select the camera icon on the top-right

Tap the bottom of the screen and choose "part finder."

Now line up the part you're trying to find on a white sheet of paper next to a penny (this helps Amazon determine the size of the part.)

Amazon will scan the part and return results. It identified this screw.

It also was able to find this O-ring.

And it recognized this nut.

It identified this bolt — though I had to choose the proper head type.

I think most people may still find it more useful to walk to a supplies store, especially if they're a little uncertain with Amazon's results or need something in a hurry.

But, if you live way outside the city or if you have a pretty good idea of what you need, Amazon's new part finder can be a useful tool for finding the right replacement parts. For now, it's limited to fasteners like bolts, nuts, screws and washers.