There are lots of different ways to take screenshots on your Android device. Some are manufacturer-specific, some are operating system-wide, and some rely on dedicated apps from the Google Play Store.
It can be difficult to make sense of the options all and determine which is the best approach for your specific device.
In this article, I’m going to talk you through some of the most common methods and show you a couple of third-party apps.
1. Using the Stock Android Operating System
Since Android 4.0, taking screenshots using nothing more than your device has been a breeze.
Press and hold the Volume Down + Power buttons at the same time, and you’ll see a brief onscreen animation followed by a confirmation in the notification bar that the action was successful.
There is a knack to getting the timing right. Press the power button too soon and you’ll lock your device’s screen. Press the volume button too soon and you’ll end up changing the device’s audio settings.
2. Using Manufacturer Shortcuts
Not all phones use the standard Android method.
Samsung devices require you to press the
Power + Home buttons instead. Thereafter, the process is the same. You’ll be given an on-screen confirmation and the image will be viewable in your gallery app.
Some phones use the standard method but also have additional options. For example, on the Sony Xperia Z5 you can press the power button to access the options menu. From there, you can take screenshots and record the screen.
Phones from Motorola, LG, and HTC all use the standard method.
3. Root Your Phone
Earlier versions of Android would not allow apps to take screenshots of the device without rooting. It was a security feature designed to prevent malicious downloads from spying on you and stealing private information.
However, rooting your device would open you up to a world of possibilities. There are lots of apps in the Play Store that have a simple “Take Screenshot” button, specifically for using on old rooted versions of Android. We covered some of them in our article about the five best Android apps for taking better screenshots .
For a detailed look at rooting your device,
check out our extensive guide .
4. Screenshot Easy
Let’s take a look at a couple of the best third-party apps. Their basic functionality is the same as the stock method, but they offer some cool additional features that aren’t available natively.
The first one to check out is Screenshot Easy.
It has some great usability functions. For example, it lets you take shots using a screen overlay button, a button in the notification bar, or by shaking your device.
There are also some great post-shot options. You can crop your screenshots, convert them to a ZIP file, edit the colors, and include time and date stamps. Images can be saved in either PNG or JPG format.
Download: Screenshot Easy (Free) from the Play Store
5. Super Screenshot
Super Screenshot is free to use and doesn’t include ads, making it a great choice for users who want a clean and easy-to-use app.
Perhaps its best feature is its ability to crop your screenshots before it commits them to memory. It also lets you resize your snaps, scribble on them, add text notes to them, and add various filters. To achieve the same results using the stock Android method, you’d need to download a photo editing app.
Photos can be saved directly to your phone’s SD card to save space, where appropriate.
Download: Super Screenshot (Free) from the Play Store
6. On Non-Rooted Pre-Android 4.0 Devices
Before the introduction of Android 4.0 in October 2011, there was no way to take a screenshot using the operating system.
Clearly, not many people are using old versions of Android on their phones. But if you’ve been forced to use Gingerbread or Honeycomb – perhaps because your main device is out of action and you’re using an old spare – you need to know how to take screenshots too.
The best method for non-rooted devices is to use the Android SDK. Yes, it’s cumbersome to setup, but it’s the most dependable approach.
You can download the SDK from the official Android website. Installing and setting up the SDK app is beyond the scope of this article, but we covered the process in detail elsewhere on the site.
Check out the No Root Screenshot It app if you want a simpler user interface.
Which Method Do You Use?
I hope I’ve shown you how diverse the different methods are.
To summarize, as long as you’re using Android 4.0 or later (and you probably are), your phone will be able to take screenshots natively. If you’re looking for additional options, you should turn to a third-party app, and if you’re running an earlier version of Android, you’ll need to either root your device or use a desktop application.
Which method do you rely on? Have you found a third-party app that has better features than the ones I listed? Do you prefer rooting your device to open up the extra options?
Let me know about your situation in the comments section below.
Originally written by Chris Hoffman on June 11th, 2012.