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2,862 Tutorials

How to take a screen grab on an Android device

You don't need to root your phone to take screenshots

Initially taking a screen grab from your Smartphone might seem a bit pointless. But if you're having problems with your phone, or you're unsure how to do something on your handset, it's a great way of 'explaining' what you can see. It's a relatively simple process on Apple's iPhone and it doesn't require any extra software. Unfortunately, it's not as simple on a Google Android device.

There are a number of apps available in the Android Market, but they only support screen shots on 'rooted' phones. By 'rooting' your handset you give yourself the ability to install a new user interface and make changes to system files that you wouldn't normally be able to do. While this initially may sound like a great idea, you could potentially destroy your phone if you don't know what your are doing. This is certainly not something we recommend.

However, if you're close to a PC and you're willing to spend a bit of time downloading the Android developer kit and relevant drivers, you will be able to take screen shots of your Android handset, provided it's connected to your machine using a USB cable. Here's how.

Step one
You'll need to start by downloading the Android develop kit. Head to the Android developer website and click on the tab marked SDK. Select the developer kit that's relevant to the OS your PC is running (Windows, Mac OS X or Linux) and then press Save File when the pop-up is displayed.

Step two
Once the developer kit has been downloaded, extract the file to your desktop (it'll be in the form of a zip file) and then open the SDK manager and follow the on-screen instruction to install the SDK. It's worth noting you also need the Java SE Development kit to run the Android SDK, so you may need to head to Oracle's website to download this.

Step three
Now you'll need to put your phone in USB debug mode before you connect it you your PC. To do this, go to Settings and select Applications. From the menu displayed click Development and make sure the box next to USB debugging is ticked. Although you should remember that in debugging mode it is possible to copy data between your device and your PC, as well as install applications without any notification or read log data, so be careful when it's in this state and hooked up to your PC. Now open the SDK and connect your handset to your machine using a USB cable.

Step four
Now from Tools, which is located in the SDK folder that you extracted, launch the Dalvik Debug Monitor Service, which is simply called ddms. Click on your device on the left-hand side of the window and then from the Device menu at the top choose Screen Capture. You'll be presented with a window that displays exactly what's on your mobile's screen. Press Save to capture an image. You'll be asked to name the image, which will be saved a PNG file, as well as choose a location. Press Refresh if you want any command executed on the phone to show up in this window. When your finished press Done and close the programs and disconnect your handset from the PC. Don't forget to take it out of USB debug mode as well.

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