Smartphones

DIY: How to take screenshots from your Android mobile

Jack Wallen answers a question he gets asked a lot: How do I take screenshots on my Android phone?

A common question I get is whether there's an easy way to take screenshots from an Android phone. The short answer is no.

If you want to take screenshots from an Android device, the device must either be rooted (at which point you can simply download a screenshot app from the Android Market) or you have to install and use the Dalvik Debug Monitor Server (which is a part of the Android Software Developer Kit) onto a desktop computer. The way you do this will depend on your desktop operating system. Follow these steps if you're using Windows as your desktop:

  1. Download and install the Java JDK on the desktop.
  2. On a Windows machine, make sure to download and install the Android OEM USB Drivers.
  3. Download and install the Android SDK.
  4. Reboot your Windows PC.
  5. Turn on USB debugging on the Android phone (go to Settings | Applications | Development).
  6. Connect the phone to the desktop.
  7. Launch the Dalvik debugger from the SDK by going to the Tools menu or folder.

Note: If you are using Linux as your desktop, you will also have to locate the ID of the smartphone and create a udev rule. These rules go in /etc/udev/rules.d/ and look similar to:
SUBSYSTEM=="usb", SYSFS{idVendor}=="04e8", MODE="0666"

When the Dalvik debugger opens, go to Device | Screen Capture, and a new window will open where you can grab your screenshots.

An Android wish list request

This issue always goes on my Android wish list. I'm hoping the Android developers do something in the near future to make this process less of a hassle. Screenshots are important on a number of levels for a variety of user types.

What's on your Android wish list? Tell us in the discussion.

Ask Jack: If you have a DIY question, email it to me, and I'll do my best to answer it. (Read guidelines about submitting DIY questions.)

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

18 comments
Bapster
Bapster

Hold the HOME key and Press the POWER BUTTON (top right)

Seotop
Seotop

Very useful for me. Thank's for sharing your tips...

hcontrex
hcontrex

Android security application to nullify the erroneous privileges on some free applications. A application security filter to "un-check" certain compromising permissions to the "fee-based" services paid for by the phone consumer. What does a free "flashlight" application need with access to my phone services? I'll gladly pay for applications if the developers can write secure and trustworthy applications for consumers. Maybe offer free and pay-to-use for applications. Let the consumer decide on the best of breed apps.

jijucse
jijucse

There is no need to install an external application in most of the devices. There are inbuilt shortcuts for capturing the screen. In Samsung galaxy, just hold back key and press the home button. You will get a toast message and the image will be saved in Screen Capture Folder

jiravich.n
jiravich.n

Facebook on Android should have an easily accessible "tag people" in photos function.

johndoe4024
johndoe4024

No rooting; no SDK downloads; no drivers. Just a simple little app that works great. Allows one to set capture delays, capture on shake or from Notification Bar. Saves images in Screen Capture folder in Gallery. Once managed to capture on T-Mobile Galaxy-S version 2.1 with some strange (accidental) key combo; but since moving 2.2 cannot. Have tried all the various suggested combos to no avail. Just get Screen Capture Shortcut and be done with it.

HENpp
HENpp

Screen Grabber by Mindphaze does the trick on Motorola Atrix. No rooting... just swipe and tap. And it's free.

seanferd
seanferd

Nah, just kidding. It just seemed to fit the current comment style.

In Samsung Galaxy S, you just hold down the back key and press the home button to capture screenshot. It's that easy and no extra app need. The captured screenshot is saved in ScreenCapture folder.

me19562
me19562

On the HTC EVO 3D there is no need for an app. 1. Hold down the POWER button and then press the HOME button. 2. That???s it! Seriously, it???s that easy! You???ll see a message appear on the screen that says ???screenshot saved to Camera shots???. You can then go to your Gallery app to see the screenshots that you have captured.

NerdHerder
NerdHerder

Last week I fumbled with my phone as I extracted it from my pocket and heard a click. Looking at the screen, I saw a message that the screen shot was saved. Sure enough, there was a screen shot in my gallery app. I assumed I stumbled upon some secret key press combination. How do I repeat it? The phone is a Samsung Galaxy S, aka T-Mobile Vibrant, running Android 2.2.

brent
brent

"Im hoping the Android developers do something in the near future to make this process less of a hassle. " This is now a feature built in to Ice Cream Sandwich Edit: no root needed on ICS

mistercrowley
mistercrowley

what about the Galaxy S? Oops - that should have been the Continuum... stupid covers...

jburtburt
jburtburt

Is there such an easy way to get a screen shot on a Tablet that uses Android 3.2? Thanks

seanferd
seanferd

No root privileges needed? Excellent.

rickcull
rickcull

On the eee transformer Settings / Screen / Screenshot It seems you need to answer 'Yes' to make it stick otherwise it resets after every screenshot