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.)