How to Take a Screenshot on Your Android Phone or Tablet

Save an image of your Android screen for troubleshooting or other purposes

With the majority of Android phones and tablets, you take a screenshot by pressing and holding down the Volume-down button and the Power button simultaneously. The exceptions are for devices that are running a version of Android that is earlier than 4.0.

Screenshots are images of whatever you see on your screen at the time you take the screenshot. They are particularly helpful when you need to show tech support at a remote location what's going on with your phone.

You might also use Android screenshots as wish lists for something you see on the internet that you'd like to have or as evidence of phishing or threatening messages.

Press the Power and Volume-Down Button Simultaneously

Google introduced a screenshot-taking feature with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. If you have Android 4.0 or later on your phone or tablet, here's how to take a screenshot on Android:

  1. Navigate to the screen you want to record with the screenshot.
  2. Press the Power button and the Volume-down button at the same time. It might take some trial-and-error practice to master the simultaneous pressing.
  3. Hold both buttons down until you hear an audible click when the screenshot is taken. If you don't hold the buttons down until you hear the click, your phone may turn off the screen or lower the volume.

Look for the screenshot in your Photo Gallery in a Screenshots folder. 

Use Your Phone's Built-in Shortcuts

Some phones come with a built-in screenshot utility.

With many Samsung devices, such as the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note, you press the Power and Home buttons, hold for a second and release when the screen flashes to take a screenshot and place it in your Gallery. To find out if your phone has a screenshot tool, either check the manual or do a Google search for "[name of phone] take a screenshot."

There might also be a device-specific app you can download to take screenshots and also do more with those images of your screen. For example, the Screen Capture Shortcut Free app works with many Samsung devices. With the app, you can take captures after a delay or when you shake your phone. For other devices, search the Google Play Store for the name of your device and "screenshot," "screen grab," or "screen capture."

Install an App for Screenshots

If you don't have Android 4.0 or later on your phone, and it doesn't have a built-in screenshot feature, installing an Android app can work. Some apps require rooting your Android device, and some don't.

The No Root Screenshot It app is one app that doesn't require your device to be rooted, and it allows you to take screenshots via a widget, annotate and draw on screenshots, crop and share them, and more. It costs $4.99, but it runs on all devices.

Rooting gives you more control over your device, so you can do things such as tether your phone to serve as a modem for your laptop without the fees or give a third-party app permission to take a picture of your Android phone's screen.

If your device is rooted, you can use one of the many apps available that let you take a screen grab on a rooted Android device.

Screencap Root Screenshots is a free app, and AirDroid (Android 5.0+), which wirelessly manages your Android device, also lets you take screenshots wirelessly through your computer's web browser.

Use the Android SDK

You can take an Android screen capture of any compatible device by installing the Android SDK from Google on your computer. The Android SDK is a software development kit used by developers to create and test Android apps, but it's freely available to everyone.

To use the Android SDK, you'll need the Java SE Development Kit, Android SDK, and possibly USB drivers for your device (found on the manufacturer's website).

Then, you plug in your phone, run the Dalvik Debug Monitor, which is included in the SDK, and click on Device > Screen Capture... in the Debug Monitor menu.

This is a clunky way to take screenshots, but if nothing else works or you have the Android SDK set up anyway, it's easy to use.

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