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Android – How to take a screenshot

Android – How to take a screenshot

The process of taking a screenshot on your Android device is most certainly confusing as it works differently with different Android devices and different Android versions.

For newer (Android 4.0 and newer) it’s supposed to be uniform, but for older devices it’s a wild guess what it might be.

In this article I’ll try to show you how to take a screenshot with most Android based devices.

Apple iOS users should read this article instead.

Android versions and Manufacturer Specifics

I do like Android, it most certainly is a good platform and definitely has advantages over Apple’s iOS. Apple is very strict in what can and what cannot be used or done. The fact that Android offers more freedom is also a big downside and can cause stability issues … but worse of al: inconsistency amongst different devices.

Please don’t get me wrong when I complain about the different Android versions and manufacturer customized Android versions – but for the average consumer, this can be very confusing. What works on one phone or tablet is likely to not work or work differently on another Android device, and from a consumer perspective that is not good. Granted: Android development is not standing still and some of these issues are or have been addressed in newer Android release.

Writing this article for example, required taking some screenshots on the several Android devices I have, … and boy what a night-mare it has been … 

How do I find what Android version I have?

You’ll first need to figure out what Android version your phone or tablet is running. As this can be cumbersome, we wrote a more extensive article on the matter: How to determine the Android version of your Phone or Tablet.

Android 4.0 + (Ice Cream Sandwich, Jellybean and newer)

You’re in luck … Taking screenshots is now part of the standard functionality of Android.

Just press the Volume Down and Power buttons at the same time. Hold them for a second, and your phone will take a screenshot.
The screenshot will appear in your photo or gallery app and is stored in PNG format.

Note : This trick works also on more recent Amazon Kindle models, like the Kindle Fire HD.

Android 2.3 and older (Froyo, Gingerbread, Eclair, Donut, etc)

With the older models you’re out of luck – they typically do not come with a build in screenshot tool.

None of the methods available can be called “Easy”.
They either require using the Android Developers Kit, a rooted device, a custom firmware (ROM) version or a clumsy (but functional!) additional application on your computer. A list of possible screenshot tools can be found here, some do and some don’t require the device to be rooted.

A so called “rooted” device allows you to have maximum access (SuperUser) rights to the inner workings of your Android device and does not come without it’s risks of course. This allows you to do things that the manufacturer might not like … which is the fun part of it of course. For iOS devices this is called “jailbreaking”.

Additional guides: How to take an Android Screenshot, and an article geared towards Droid 3.

Samsung Exception

Like I stated before: consistency amongst the different Android devices is poor. This of course doesn’t mean that Android devices are bad, just harder to write guides for.

Some manufactures have included a screenshot option, even in the older Android devices, Samsung is one of them.

In older Samsung devices briefly press “Power” while holding the “Home” button down (same as iPhone, iPod and iPad).

Transferring the screenshot to your computer

There are several ways to transfer your screenshot to your computer.

For direct file transfer please read the “Android – How to Transfer Files” article.

Obviously email is an easy option as well, simply attach the screenshot(s) from your photo gallery to an email and send it to yourself.

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