How to Take Screen Shots From An Android Phone or Tablet

Taking screen shots of an application is essential to the development and marketing process. You really need something to reference to any marketing or advertising that people can see. After all how will I have a good idea if your application will actually be usable or meet my needs? In the development process I have found it especially helpful to take screen shots as reference when fixing bugs. But more importantly to aid in communicating UI concepts and concerns with co-workers and clients. Now that we are fully immersed in a mobile first world taking these screen shots from devices is essential. I have found ways to take screen shots on all three of my primary platform targets, iOS, Windows Phone and Android.

Today I wanted to share what it takes to do Android screen shots. These steps apply to both phones and tablets and to my knowledge unlike the fragmented platform itself this is pretty consistent.

First you have to setup the device to work with USB debugging enabled. This means you need to open the device's settings to turn this on and have the Android Development SDK installed locally. Once you open the Android's settings you need to select the Applications option from the list.

This will open a new list, select Development from the bottom of the list.

At the top of this list is an option to enable USB Debugging. Make sure this is checked. When you enable it a dialog will appear asking you to confirm your choice.

Now that the device is ready you need to plug it into your development machine with the Android SDK installed. In the 'tools' folder, under the SDK's root folder, you should find a batch file to launch the Davlik Debug Monitor, ddms.bat. Double-Click it to launch it. You will soon see the Davlik Debug Monitor open on your screen. This tool is very helpful when building native and web applications, but today I am only interested in taking screen shots.


In the Davlik Debug Monitory menu you will see a Device option. When you select it a child menu will appear and you should see an option to take a screen shot. If this menu option is gray out or disabled you need to select the device in the list below the menu and toolbar buttons. You can also use the Ctrl + S shortcut. This will launch the Davlick Device Screen Capture tool. And you should see a copy of your device on your computer monitor.

Hitting the Save button at the top of the Screen Capture tool will let you save the image locally. Once you change the screen and want to take another screen shot simply hit the Refresh button and an updated image of the device will be displayed. Again you can save it to your hard drive. From here simply rinse and repeat this process till you have all the screen shots you need. When you are done hit the Done button to close the Screen Capture tool.

As you can tell I took several screen shots using the tool to show you how to take screen shots. Here is a screen shot of Moesion's home page in the Android browser.

I hope this help you out. It took me quiet a while to work this out. But a lot of my problem is I needed to install and reinstall the drivers to connect my Motorola phone and Xoom tablet to my PC. So if you have not been able to connect your device to your PC check with your manufacturer for the latest drivers. If you can connect and copy photos you should be able to connect to take screen shots. Note that screen shots taken are not stored on the device itself like iPhone and Windows Phone. They are only saved where you want to save them.

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