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Apple has made taking a screenshot on its iDevices so simple it is trivial. Why, therefore, has Google made doing the same thing on Android an exercise?
In a way, it’s almost like the way iOS compares to Android, period. iOS is for those who want something that works perfectly out of the box. It’s a great platform for John and Joan Q. Public, who know little to nothing about technology.
Android, on the other hand, is best for those with technical knowledge. If you want a platform that allows a lot of tinkering, much of which is because Apple simply won’t allow some functionality in third-party software, whereas Google will, then Android is for you. Android also offers a large variety of handset designs, whereas the iPhone is limited to 1 (2 if you count last year’s model) form factors.
Back to the subject: in order to take a screenshot of an Android phone, you need to install the SDK. Yes, you read that correctly, you need to install the Android SDK. It’s plain that Google believes that developers might want to take screenshots to advertise their software, but other than that …
Here’s what you need to do:
First, put your Android device into USB debugging mode. Go into the Settings app on your Android device, select Applications >> Development and enable USB debugging by tapping the checkbox next to it.
Second, make sure you have installed the Java development kit (JDK). This differs from the runtime environment (JRE) you typically install to run Java. To find it, go to http://java.sun.com/javase/downloads/ and pick the Java SE Development Kit (JDK).
Third, install the Android SDK. We’re not going to go into extensive detail in this How-To, as it’s already been doing by our friends over at Android Central. Indeed, if you’re going through all this, you must really, really want that screenshot. You can install the SDK on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X. Note: despite the fact that Google recommends the installer method for Windows, we recommend the ZIP file method.
Next, find the directory where you unzipped the SDK, and run DDMS. On Windows this means go to the SDKtools subdirectory and double click on DDMS.bat. On Linux or a Mac, open your terminal in the sdk/tools and enter ./ddms
From here, assuming you’ve got the correct drivers for the Android device in question, everything should be easy. You should see the device listed in the upper left hand window. Click on it. The lower pane, by the way, should be showing you the application and OS activity on your phone.
Then to take a screenshot, select Device >> Screen capture. You will then have the opportunity to Save the image on your device using the Save button. If you need to navigate to another screen, just use the Refresh button.
That’s it. There are apps that can capture screen images, but these all require root. Until (and unless) Google sees fit to change things, users will have to use this complex method for Android screenshots.