How to do an Android screen cap?

Here’s a screen I captured on my iPhone, by holding down the button on top of the device and clicking the big round button near the bottom. It then goes into the queue of photos where you can email it anywhere. For a long time I was doing screen caps on the iPhone by taking a picture with my Canon camera, until someone told me the right way to do it.


So the question, dear Droidies, how do you do this on Android?

And apologies for including an iPhone screen shot. As soon as I know how to do it on the Droid I’ll document it with a new picture. 🙂

Posted in Droid. 19 Comments »

19 Responses to “How to do an Android screen cap?”

  1. Rich Says:

    Grabbed from

    How to take the shots:

    1. Download and install the Android SDK. Don’t worry – unlike some SDKs, installing the Android kit is completely straightforward.
    2. Enable USB Debugging on the device by going to Settings -> Applications -> Development and checking the proper box.
    3. Plug the Android device into the USB port.
    4. Find the folder containing the SDK you just installed. The location will vary depending on which operating system you’re using, and where you chose to install it. On all platforms, the folder name should begin with “android-sdk-”. For example, the folder for the current build on OS X is “android-sdk-mac_x86-1.0_r1″
    5. Open the tools folder within the Android SDK folder.
    6. Double click the file titled “DDMS”. This stands for Dalvik Debug Monitor Service.
    7. In DDMS, your device should be listed. Highlight it by clicking on it.
    8. In the application’s top menus, go to Device -> Screen capture.

  2. Piers Says:

    Take a look here: If you find an easier way, please let me know

  3. Dave Winer Says:

    Okay I’m going to stick with the Canon method for now, and downloading an SDK violates my oath to stay a user of this thing, at least for the time-being.

    BTW, when people say that Android is like Windows, Windows had an easy single keystroke method of taking a screen cap since before there *was* Windows (it was inherited from PC-DOS).

    • Josh Turmel Says:

      Unfortunately there is no user-friendly way of taking screen shots on the device, that being said, I’m not sure how many mom’s I’ve seen taking screen shots on their iPhone’s either. 🙂

      There are basically two ways, the method linked to above which uses the SDK, which is the method I use since I’m a developer; and then the second way is by using an app, but any of the apps I’ve ever found require root access which is probably asking more than installing the SDK. It’s definitely a road block to every user being able to do it at this point.

  4. mikecane Says:

    See why I said you won’t sit still when it comes to Android? Now I will wait for you to DO something about this ridiculous situation. People shouldn’t have to go through such hoops for a basic facility that should be built-in! Put down that Canon. When you surrender and download the SDK, put it to better use that personal screencaps!

  5. Dave Winer Says:

    No Mike — I’m not going to solve this problem. I’m a user. It’s really irritating to make the conversation about whether you know me better than I do. Pointless. Stay in your power, make statements about yourself.

    Or… even better: Why don’t *you* fix it! 🙂

    • mikecane Says:

      All I’m doing is acknowledging your public traits: You don’t like to sit still for things that irk you and you often create solutions that no one else has either a) thought of as having a problem that needed fixing, or 2) had to do because no one else would bother. Resist all you want under the guise of a “user,” but I’m counting the days until you crack and code something.

      Me fix it? Ha! I lack the Math Gene and therefore the Code Gene.

    • Ilya Rivkin Says:

      Does reporting a bug/enhancement also violate your oath? I found this – This way you aren’t writing any code but you are still helping out(kinda like this site). Thanks for the site by the way, it’s already useful.

      • Dave Winer Says:

        I generally don’t put bugs into company’s bug reporting systems, because that leads to them questioning why I wrote about it publicly. I keep it simple by just writing about it publicly. Of course there’s nothing stopping: 1. Other people from reporting the bugs or 2. The vendors reading the site, and even participating in the conversation (as equals of course).

        Another reason is — I don’t work for them, I’m a customer. That another reason why, Mike Cane please note, I would prefer for now not to develop. Companies tend to treat their developers as unappreciative parasites. They can’t help it (or so I figure) or they have to work real hard to avoid it, and I’ve never seen a platform vendor work hard at it. I like developing for the Internet, where there’s no company in charge. Although there are always companies who, by their nature, feel as if they’re in charge (Google has this in huge quantities).

      • Dave Winer Says:

        BTW, a funny story about the “as equals” thing. When I was working on, I couldn’t get the developers to go online to make contact with the users. So I started doing it for them. Guess what, they started treating me as a user and thanking me for the feedback, and not interacting in any other way.

        I don’t think they’re bad people I just think most developers abstract users and have the wrong idea about them, and never challenge the idea. They get lots of reinforcement from the people they do have lots of contact with, other engineers on their team.

        At Living Videotext and UserLand I had the same problem, only there I was the boss, not a team member. I still couldn’t get the devteam to treat the users with the proper respect.

  6. mikecane Says:

    >>>That another reason why, Mike Cane please note, I would prefer for now not to develop. Companies tend to treat their developers as unappreciative parasites.

    OK, Dave, noted. I’ll read your blog in that light from now on. And I look forward to all the tips and things you reveal for people interested in Android. It wasn’t my intent to wind you up in the wrong way.

  7. Fred Flintstone Says:

    There’s a Java program called Droidex that duplicates the Android screen live on your desktop. Then you use your normal desktop screen-cap techniques. Also great for conference presos. Unfortunately it requires you install the SDK because it uses the debugging bridge to talk to the device.

  8. Motorola Droid Reviews, Opinions and References Says:

    […] captures – There’s no easy way to do it … […]

  9. An Android User Lesson from Dave Winer « MobileBytes Says:

    […] Dave Winer recently started using an Android device with OS 1.5 and wanted to know how to do screen capture form a user perspective that means not installing something like the Android SDK or even probably installing something else. The thread he comments in is here. […]

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