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How to take screenshots on your Android device

It couldn't be easier to share pictures with Android--but what if you want to share a screenshot of something weird or awesome? It takes a little prep work and a computer, but you can do it. Read more in this blog post by Rob Lightner.

There are lots of reasons you might want to take a screenshot on your Android device. Maybe you want to show off your amazing home screen, or maybe you want to show a distant friend something cool they can't do with their iPhone. Unless you've got the native screen-capture function that comes with Android 2.3.3 or better (and that's not very many of you at the time of this writing), your options are limited, but you can still do it without paying a cent or rooting your device. Setting up your Android device to take screenshots takes a little prep work, but after an initial investment of 15 minutes or so, it's a snap:

  1. Install the Android SDK (software development kit) and the latest JDK (Java developer's kit). Don't be intimidated--you won't have to code a thing.
  2. Navigate to the SDK tools folder or just search your file system to find "ddms.bat" and fire it up. Better still, make a shortcut for that file, name it something like "Android screenshot," and drop it somewhere memorable. You should see a window labeled "Dalvik Debug Monitor."
    Dalvik Debug Monitor
  3. On your Android device, click the menu button, then Settings, then Applications, then Development. Check the box next to "USB debugging" (remembering not to be intimidated).
  4. Navigate to the screen you want to capture, then connect your device to your computer through USB.
  5. In the Dalvik Debug Monitor, click on the mobile icon near the top left, then type [Ctrl-S] or select "Screen capture" from the Device pull-down menu. A new window should pop up with your screencap.
  6. Click Refresh to take a new shot and Save to store the image.

Android screen capture

You're all set! From now on, whenever you want to take a screenshot, just repeat steps 2-6.