How To Take Screenshots on an Android Device


I’ve always just rooted my devices and then added any one of the plethora of apps on the Market to then take advantage of that root access to do screenshots. I do, however, understand that there are still a lot of users that don’t want to have to root their device in order to just take screen shots. Well, with a little help from the Android Software Developer Kit, you can plug your phone in and take those screenshots without having to root your device.

I. Setup the SDK and ADB

1. Download the Android Software Developer Kit and save it to your computer.Android SDK (using Windows download the .exe version)

2. Once downloaded, double click the .exe file and click next.

3. If you don’t have the JDK installed, it will ask you to install it. Click the button to visit the Java download site, then click on Download the JDK, accept the terms, and download the JDK for your computer OS.

4. Once downloaded, double click the exe to install the JDK.

5. Once the JDK is installed, reopen the Android SDK exe file, click back, then next again and it should let you continue past that JDK part.

6. Once it is done, check the box that says Open SDK Manager.

7. It will automatically open the SDK Manager once you click finish and then will automatically find all the available update/packages you will need. When it does that just click Accept All and continue (it will take a while to download and install all the updates/packages, so go eat a sandwich).

8. Once that is done, go to the Android SDK folder (For Windows x64 it’s under C:\Program Files (x86)\Android\android-sdk and under Windows x86/32 bit it’s under C:\Program Files\Android\android-sdk by default), then click on the platform-tools folder and make sure you see adb inside. If it is there everything went as planned.

II. Setup Drivers

1. Now, on your phone, go to Settings > Applications > Development > and make sure USB Debugging is checked ON.

2. Plug the phone in via USB cable to your computer.

3. At this point, Windows should automatically install the adb drivers.

4. To check if you have the ADB drivers installed, open a command prompt window by click on the Start menu and typing cmd and hitting enter in the search box. Then type the following with hitting enter at the end of each line:

cd C:\Program Files (x86)\android\android-sdk\platform-tools (For Windows x64 it’s – C:\Program Files (x86)\Android\android-sdk\platform tools and for Windows x86/32 bit it’s – C:\Program Files\Android\android-sdk\platform-tools by default)

adb devices

5. After typing adb devices and hitting enter it should say “List of Devices Attached” and show a serial number underneath it (i.e. HT5465845953, or something). If it does, you can go to Section III. If it doesn’t show anything, then go to the next step to get it to manually install the drivers.

6. If you did NOT get a serial number in the last step then do the following.

A. Unplug the device.

B. Go to PDANet and download the PDANet latest installer. (This is a program used to tether your Android phone to the desktop, but we use it here to install the ADB drivers manually which it usually does on installation).

C. Install it and wait for it to completely finish.

D. Plug your device back in (make sure USB Debugging is still checked on on the device) and it should say installing drivers.

E. Redo step 4 and see if you get a serial number now. If so continue to Section III. If not, then redo this step but instead of installing PDANet, Google your device name and the words “adb drivers” after it and find it’s drivers manually. Install them and then try adb devices again to see if you get a serial number.

III. Run the DDMS and Take a Screenshot

1. Plug the device in via USB if it isn’t already.

2. Open the Android SDK Tools folder by clicking on My Computer > C: > Program Files (x86) [or Program Files if (x86) isn’t listed] > Android > android-sdk > tools

3. In there you should see a file called “ddms”. Double click that file.

4. The Dalvik Debug Monitor should open and you should be able to see your device’s serial number listed on the left side. Click your device.

5. With the device selected, under the Device menu at the top, click Screen Capture.

6. A window of your device’s screen should show up. Whenever you change the screen on your device, you have to hit Refresh at the top to show the new screen.

7. To take a screen shot, simply click the Save button at the top of the Device Screen Capture window.


David opened a cell phone store on his college campus and started as a personal tech blog back in 2009 along side. He gets an unnatural excitement out of showing others new things about their tech that they might not have known. Reach out to him on the following social networks and say hi.
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  • Njjayt82

    Ok, So I’ve tried doing this on my Droid 2 and I cant get passed the command prompt and it gives me this error message: Is not a recognized as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file.
    I also tried doing the pdanet and i still didn’t get the it to work. I’m pretty good at following directions, but this is making me feel like I have the IQ of a slice of bread. I’ve been trying to get this to work for about 7 hrs to no avail. I see adb and ddms and all that other stuff. I’ve even gone to the adb file itself and clicked on properties. ive gone to google and tried to look for the adb files.. Any help would be greatly appreciated

  • Molarpistol

     THANK YOU! Works great!

  • kevin

    try holding home and power at the same time, ( doesnt need root)
    g2x does that, but i doubt the older phone will do
    just give it a try :D
    have a good day

  • Joseph Ryan McCrocklin

    Can someone upload the JDK for Windows x64 to megaupload or something, it keeps getting interrupted when I download it from the Oracle site

  • Joseph Ryan McCrocklin

    Belay my last, I found a working link. :)

    @78d278dc7116bcea9e5cf17a7a001eb8:disqus I tried your power and home button thing, doesn’t work for the Atrix 4G, is yours a HTC?

  • Irondad

    Dude!!! Way cool. I’m a NOob to all of this and so I am watching endless hours of videos and reading reading reading before i attempt these things. this was simple and straight forward and i tried twice to get my device to show up before I realized I was typing adb and forgetting to put adb devices. when I did that everything else followed quickly and it worked perfectly. I feel slightly less worried about trying to root my Thunderbolt now. Thanks for this. YOU ROCK!!!

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