Taking a screenshot on Android is easy, but the process isn't the same for every device. Before you learn how to take a screenshot you should check which version of Android your smartphone or tablet is running. If you have a relatively modern smartphone (post-2011), such as a Samsung Galaxy S3/S4/S5, HTC One, Sony Xperia Z/Z1/Z2 or Nexus 4/5, then you should be running at least Android HoneyComb, Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean or KitKat, which makes taking a screenshot a doddle. See all Android How-To tutorials.
How to take a screenshot on Android Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean and KitKat: Galaxy S3/S4/S5, HTC One, Xperia Z/Z1/Z2, Nexus 4/5 and other new Android smartphones.
There are two main ways that you can take a screenshot on Android devices running Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0 and above.
The first and easiest way to take a screenshot on Android 4.0 and above is to simply press and hold your smartphone's power and volume down button at the same time for 1- to 2 seconds. On some phones, such as the Samsung Galaxy S3, S4 and S5, you will instead need to combine the volume down button with the Home button. You should then hear a shutter noise and the screen will flash; there will also be a screenshot notification in the drop-down notification bar from which you can access your screenshot.
The second method is simple, too. On some phones the 'Take a screenshot' option is available from the Power off menu. Press and hold the power button for 1- to 2 seconds until the power options screen appears. If the option is available select 'Take a Screenshot'. Don't worry, it will take a screenshot of whatever is behind this menu.
How to take a screenshot on Android 2.3 and below
If you're running Android 2.3 and below then you're going to need to download an app to take a screenshot. This is where things get a little confusing as the effectiveness of the screenshot apps on offer vary from smartphone to smartphone.
If you're willing to pay for an app to enable you to take screenshots on your Android smartphone - and you don't want to go through the hassle of rooting your Android device - then you should try the app No Root Screenshot It (£2.99). Bear in mind that “This application will instruct you to download and install a free desktop application on your Windows or Mac. Once installed, you must run the desktop application with your phone attached to your computer. This will enable screenshots on your phone.”
If you're unwilling to pay for a screenshot app, the only advice we can offer is to search the Google Play store and trial a number of apps based on their star rating and find an app that works well with your device.
Go to the next page to see other ways to take screenshots on Android smartphones and tablets.
It's the various older flavours of Android still in circulation that make the process somewhat confusing. According to Android Developers, as of 1 May 2013 only a little over half (55.9 percent) of Android devices are running Ice Cream Sandwich or Jelly Bean. Believe it or not, there are still devices out there running Donut, Eclair, Froyo and Honeycomb, and a great many smartphones still on Gingerbread (38.4 percent).
For these older devices, the scary-sounding process of needing to rootyour phone or tablet, then download a third-party screenshot app, remains a reality. However, depending on your device, some hardware manufacturers have tweaked the software to include the capability. We'll look at a couple of examples of these later on.
Take a screenshot in Android: 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich - 4.2 Jelly Bean
The most common way to take a screenshot on a device running Android 4.0 or later is to simultaneously hold down the power and volume-down buttons for a few seconds.
The device will vibrate, then capture what's on your smartphone or tablet's display. There is a slight knack to this action: press the power button too soon and the display will switch off; press the volume-down button too soon and your screenshot may be marred by an onscreen volume slider. And if your device restarts, you were most likely holding down volume-up.
To view your screenshot you can either pull down Android's Notification bar and tap on the small thumbnail image of your screenshot now displayed there, open Android's Gallery, or find the file through a file browser. You should also find options for editing and sharing the image.
Take a screenshot in Android: Other methods
Other ways to take a screenshot in Android are specific to certain devices, for which the hardware manufacturer has tweaked the software to make the function more prominent or the task simpler to execute.
On the Galaxy Tab 10.1, for example, Samsung has included a dedicated screenshot touch button. This is on display at all times: look to the left of the bottom taskbar, then select the right-most icon. The tablet will take a screenshot, then immediately open the file in Android's Gallery. Note that you will need to click Save if you wish to keep the screenshot, or you can share it with various online services including Dropbox, Gmail and social media.
On many Samsung phones you can simultaneously press and hold the power and Home buttons, or Home and volume down to take a screenshot. And on other devices, such as Sony's Xperia range, there is a screenshot option in the power-off menu. On the Sony Xperia Z,for example, you hold down the smartphone's power button, then select 'Take screenshot' from the menu. Whatever is shown below the power-off menu will be captured, and you can find the resulting screenshot by looking in Android's Gallery or pulling down the Notification bar.
You may find with these devices that the power/volume-down solution is also effective.
Take a screenshot in Android: Gingerbread, Honeycomb and older devices
If you're running an older Android operating system (Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread or Honeycomb) on your phone or tablet, and the manufacturer hasn't tweaked the software to include screenshot functionality, you'll need to go down the app route.
You'll find thousands of both free and third-party screenshot tools in Google Play, many of which require you to 'root' your Android device (check out our workshopfor more details on device rooting). If that sounds scary, look for a tool such as No Root Screenshot It (£2.99), with which you'll need to hook up the phone to a PC to take screenshots.