Taking screenshots on an Android-based phone

Yesterday I got an Android-based smartphone (an HTC Magic). Today I want to document some of its features, which also includes taking screenshots.

Unfortunately there is no way of taking screenshots with the provided software, and the only screenshot app in the Market requires you to have a rooted phone.

I eventually came across this guide which explains how to take screenshots using a PC and the Android SDK. However not all of the steps are necessary so I’ve prepared a slightly simplified version.

  1. On your Android phone, go to Settings, then Applications, and then Development. Check the checkbox to enable USB debugging.
  2. Download the Android SDK for your platform here.
  3. Unzip the SDK in a convenient location.
  4. Run the DDMS program from the tools folder, inside the folder that you just unzipped.
  5. Plug your Android handset into a USB port on your computer, if it is not plugged in already.
  6. You should see your Android phone appear in the top-left pane of the program. Select it.
  7. Click on the Device menu and choose Screen capture.
  8. From the box that pops up, you can see what’s on your Android device and either save or copy the screenshots.

Christina Warren goes on to say:

There is a caveat: Because your device has to be plugged into USB to be accessed by the SDK, the SD card cannot be used for taking photographs, playing music or downloading music from the Amazon.com MP3 store. You can take pictures of some of those screens, but to actually download anything, take movies, or take a photo, you cannot have your device plugged into the computer and accessed by the SDK.

I can’t comment on that – like I said, I’ve only had the Magic since yesterday and I haven’t tried much on it yet.

This method is not quite as convenient as on other platforms, but it’s your only choice if you’re not prepared to root your phone. It’s good enough for stuff like these email instructions, anyway.

2 thoughts on “Taking screenshots on an Android-based phone

    1. No, this is a work phone on a Vodafone contract. I still have my Sony-Ericsson P1i on a personal O2 contract, but I hope to swap that for an iPhone in the New Year 🙂


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