There are any number of reasons why you might want to take a screenshot on Android, and any number of ways to do it.
Depending on what device you’ve got and what version of the OS it is running, the method may be different. So, for instance, the button combination you use to take a screenshot on an LG G3 is different to a Galaxy S5, and if you’ve got an older Gingerbread device you’ll need a third party app to do the job.
Here’s a look at the main ways to capture the screen of your Android phone.
Take screenshots on Android Lollipop
On Android Lollipop the process for taking screenshots is the same as been used for the last number of versions of the OS. This is to hold down the power and volume down buttons simultaneously. The image will be saved in its own screenshot folder.
KitKat and all Android 4.0 devices
As with Lollipop, the default method of capturing screen grabs on Android devices from Ice Cream Sandwich to KitKat is the volume down+power button combination.
You’ll here a beep, and see the captured image displayed briefly on screen. You can view the screenshot immediately by tapping the item that will appear in the notification pane. It will also be stored in its own Screenshot subfolder.
If you’ve got auto-sync turned on for images within Dropbox, your screenshots will be automatically uploaded to the Camera Uploads folder within the cloud service. Other services, such a Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive, will not sync your screenshots automatically.
Samsung Galaxy phones
The main exception to the Android 4.x method comes on Samsung Galaxy devices including the Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Alpha.
On Samsung devices you take a screenshot by holding down the power and home buttons at the same time.
There’s also a gesture on the Galaxy S series where you swipe your palm over the screen to capture a screenshot. This is less reliable than the button presses, in our view.
On Galaxy Note phablets it is also possible to capture a screenshot using the S Pen. Tap and hold the stylus on screen while clicking the side button until the image is taken.
Gingerbread and older devices
Incredibly, there is no built-in support for taking screenshots on a Gingerbread or older device.
You will need an app—Screenshot It is among the best—and depending on which device you have you may also need to be rooted.
Use DDMS or Android Device Monitor and the Android SDK to take screenshots
Finally, it is possible to take screenshots using the Android Device Monitor from within the Android SDK. This works on all devices, including those running pre-Android 4.x versions of the OS without root.
In older versions of the SDK it was called ddms.
To do this download the SDK from the Android developer website.
Unpack it, and within the folder you’ll see a subfolder called Tools. Inside here locate the icon labelled monitor. Connect your phone to your computer via USB (make sure you’ve enabled USB debugging within Settings first), then launch Android Device Monitor.
You should see your phone listed under Devices. In the toolbar of the Devices window click the camera icon. This is the screen capture option.
Another window will now open showing the contents of your screen. Click Save to capture the screen.
It isn’t a live view, so if you move to a different screen on your phone you will need to click Refresh to update the view within the desktop window.