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How to: Take Screenshots and Share Them on an Android Device [Beginners' Guide]

For those new to Android, and the target audience of this guide, you may not know this, but taking screenshots on an Android device used to be quite the task. In fact, if you didn’t own a Samsung device, you had to root your phone and install a 3rd party app that would take them, or set up the Android SDK. Most of us could never figure out why the Android team wouldn’t make this ability widely available, but now that Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly bean are seeing wider adoption, we no longer have to worry about it. So since most of you are buying devices that run one of these two versions of Android, let’s talk about how you can take screenshots and them share them quickly with your friends. 

Instructions (Most Android Devices Running Android 4.0+):

*This includes most tablets as well, including the Nexus 7.

1.  Head to the screen that you would like to take a screenshot of.
2.  Press and hold Power+Volume Down at the same time for 3-5 seconds.
3.  Your phone should make a camera shutter noise and show you a preview of a screenshot.
4.  Congrats, you just took a screenshot that is available in your gallery.
5.  To quickly share it, you’ll find a notification for that screenshot in your notification bar.
6a.  Pull down your notification bar and tap on the Share icon.
6b.  If not on Jelly Bean, you’ll have to tap on the notification to get to the image, then the Share icon.
7.   Now, choose the service that you would like to share the picture with.

*Note – Most HTC devices will let you preview the image from your notification bar, but will not let you share directly from that preview, even if you have tapped on it. It’s a massive pain in the rear, but you have to exit the preview and go through your gallery, find the picture, tap on it, and then share it.

Instructions (Most Samsung Devices):

*This does not include the Galaxy Nexus or Nexus S. Use the top instructions for that device.

1.  On almost any Samsung device, open the screen that you would like a screenshot of.
2.  Press Power+Home for 3-5 seconds until a screenshot preview shows on your screen.
3.  Congrats, you just took a screenshot!
4.  To share, tap on the notification for it in your notification pulldown menu.
5.  Tap o the Share icon and share it with the service of your choice.

Alternate Instructions (Galaxy S3):

*Samsung built in a motion activity that lets you take screenshots by simply swiping across your screen, rather than having to simultaneously press buttons. I’m not a fan of it and find it incredibly finicky, however, you may have better luck.

1.  Visit the screen that you would like to take a screenshot of.
2.  Place your hand perpendicular to your phone with the side of your pink on one edge of the display.
3.  Slide your hand across the screen.
4.  If successful, your phone should make a camera shutter noise and the screen will animate.
5.  Your screenshot will be saved to your gallery.

*The rest of the Android Beginners’ Guide is a one-stop shop for all of those new to Android.

  • Ryan Maletich

    Thanks so much I feel like an idiot never knowing this but it’d be nice of it wasn’t a state secret ya know. I mean I never knew the newer android os could take screenshots.

  • sunjay

    thanks for sharing the tip for taking a screen shot for galaxy note 2!!

  • Marisa

    Anybody know how to get it to work on the new Galaxy Stellar? Can’t figure it out for the life of me.

    • Chrissy H

      Push the power button then hold down the Home icon until you hear the shutter sound. The screen cap will be saved to your picture gallery.

  • BeNice

    and what about lg elite ?????

  • La2da

    What launcher and icon pack is that?

  • LionStone

    Taking a screenshot with an HTC device is not really a “massive pain in the rear” if you know what you’re doing. You just go straight to (no need to preview in notification since you can’t share from there right?) Gallery > Screenshots > tap and share. Why is that so difficult?

  • nimbyist

    have to admit, when i tried this on my razr, i was so scared it was force a reset

  • Steve C

    I just picked up a VZW Gnex about a month ago and never knew this. Thanks!!

  • paul

    How do you disable the shutter sound?

  • http://twitter.com/qlr Quint

    I am one of the 12 LG Android users and I am able to take a screenshot on the Spectrum which is on 2.3.

  • Caleb Martin

    Interesting… this now seems to be the “proper” way to take screenshots as it adds them to a “Screenshots” section in the photo gallery; however, on the Rezound you could (and still can) take a screenshot by holding down power and then tapping the home button. The photo gets filed under “Camera Shots” though.

  • Tcali

    You don’t have to do that for the Samsung Galaxy S3; I just swipe the palm of my hand, (face down), & it works every time!

  • enob

    The hand moves!

  • http://profiles.google.com/adamtruelove Adam Truelove

    Congrats Samsung, you managed to take something that works perfectly fine and actually mostly break it.

    • Tcali

      How so?

      • http://profiles.google.com/adamtruelove Adam Truelove

        “*Samsung built in a motion activity that lets you take screenshots by simply swiping across your screen, rather than having to simultaneously press buttons. I’m not a fan of it and find it incredibly finicky, however, you may have better luck.”

        • LionStone

          That sounds more like user error.

          • http://profiles.google.com/adamtruelove Adam Truelove

            A feature that sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t when the user does the same thing each time is not user error.

          • LionStone

            I kinda agree, but you aren’t watching him do it so you don’t how consistent his motions are.

          • http://profiles.google.com/adamtruelove Adam Truelove

            I know how inconsistent motion sensing can be. My point is that why does Samsung have to take something that works just fine and try to make it “fancier” but less reliable. It’s a parlor trick to show off to your friends, so they’ll be “wowed” and want the phone. But functionally, it’s less useful than a simple button press.

          • LionStone

            I hear ya…i wonder if the motion option can be disabled? I do like how Samsung put a dedicated screenshot button on the GTab10.1…which is odd since they implemented other motion features but not for screenshots.

  • Mario Mendez

    GIF power

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Webb/513858373 James Webb

    Hold the power plus down volume button? Why would they ever implement such a silly solution?

    • Tcali

      Agreed; I actually find Samsung’s implementation of taking screenshots to be so much easier!

  • Morlok8k

    on some phones (like the droid 4) don’t keep holding down power and volume down, as it will force a restart of the phone. so let go as soon as it takes the picture!

    • https://www.facebook.com/aaron.williams.125 Champion1229

      same on Droid Razr!

  • Aardvark99

    So I’m not the only one that can’t get the screen shot (or really any of the S3 gestures) to work reliably?

    • http://www.droid-life.com Kellex B

      Definitely not the only one. Every time I try it, the screen moves and then it takes a half-assed shot of whatever I actually wanted.

      • Aardvark99

        I like the tap-on-the-top-to-scroll one. Never works, ever.

        • http://twitter.com/KansasJayhawker Jonathan Reid

          Only works in the stock email app for me.

        • Tcali

          I never need to use that…by the time I scroll down to the bottom of whatever I am doing, (whether it be checking my Gmail or browsing the web), I am done with that current task & back out of it.

      • tu3218

        yes, yes, and yes. happens every time for me unfortunately

    • http://www.facebook.com/troop.threeninetwo Troop Threeninetwo

      I never have issues taking screens…..works almost everytime first swipe.

      • Tcali

        Same here…never had an issue with it to date…

    • Ken Bosse

      No issues on mine, but my girlfriends almost never takes a screenshot with the gesture.

  • shecalledmejay

    Is there a way to get some of the gestures from the galaxy s3, like swiping the hand, on my Gnex? and yes I’m running aokp jelly bean build.

    • Aardvark99

      Funny I’m trying to get eveything Samsung off my S3 and get a stock (well, CM10) JB ROM working. Maybe we should swap phones!

      • shecalledmejay

        lol naw, I’m good i don’t like touch wiz but I do like the gestures

      • Tcali

        Really?!?
        I tried CM10 but within the hour wound up flashing CleanROM as I simply missed some of the features in TouchWiz! (The benefits of flashing a nightly aside).

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=548497404 Hans Dirk Kwazneski

    @kellex:disqus , Love your articles and just curious, I noticed your Facebook feed is all RSS Graffiti, do you guys need someone to manage the page? Perhaps interact with comments? I’d love to be of assistance!

  • Guest

    What rom is that Galaxy Nexus running?

    • http://www.droid-life.com Kellex B

      New AOKP JB.

      • http://www.facebook.com/edgar.gordon Edgar Gordon

        how is that running for u? i wasnt able to send or receive MMS. and it made my 4g/3g (mobile data in general) crap. had to enable and disable data every 5 minutes.

        • Bsody

          Mine has been running great. I havent had the MMS issue at all. As for the data, do you have the most recent radios?

  • Nowayjose

    Samsung made theirs TOO similar to Apple they WILL get sued again

    • El Big CHRIS

      ^THIS
      I mean, before ICS and JB ok whatever. But now El Goog made it official for Android to use Vol – and Power button and they go out of their way to make it *phone-ish? I guess they like to be *pple’s whipping boy.

  • Tutunkari

    For older HTC Phones (eg: Rezound), it’s the same as the first Samsung instruction. Power+Home.

    • http://www.droid-life.com Kellex B

      Even now that it has ICS?

      • zpo221

        Either method works!

        • Caleb Martin

          Yep, the only differences that I can see are that the old method doesn’t have the fancy animation and notification, and the images get filed under “Camera Shots” instead of “Screenshots” in the gallery.

  • http://www.droid-life.com Kellex B

    Fear my GIF magic.

    • sc4fpse

      ‘dat GIF.

    • Shane McKeever

      You have a GIFt

    • http://twitter.com/iron_wilhelm Mike Duren

      GIF me a break

    • http://twitter.com/jheyneman James Heyneman

      Choosy Kellens choose GIF.

    • michael arazan

      This article is the GIF that keeps on GIF-ing