How To: Getting Screenshots of your Android Phone

When I used to use my Windows Mobile device there was this awesome application available called MyMobiler. This application allowed me to access my WM5 phone on my desktop and control everything on the device. It also allowed me to take screenshots of the device, which was very useful when I was reviewing applications available for the WM5 platform.

For the Android platform, there are a few applications that are available in the Android Market and also at other sources that allow you to take screenshots of your Android device quite quickly and easily. The only catch is that they have to be given root access to your phone. No matter how trusted the source of such a software is, you always run the risk of that software messing up with your phone. Fortunately, there is an official way of doing this and it does not take a lot of doing to get things up and running.

Here is a step by step procedure to do get screenshots of your Android device on a Windows computer. I have also done this on Linux Mint and the process remains more or less the same. That’s not covered here though.

Step 1: Downloads

Make sure that you have your device’s drivers installed correctly and there are no conflicts.

Make sure that you have the latest version of Java installed. You can get the latest JDK and JRE from Sun’s Java page. Now, I’m not really sure you need the JDK + JRE package for using the SDK tools that we will be using, but I think that its just a good idea to have the latest Java on your computer.

Next, go to the Android Developers website and get the Android SDK Starter Package for the correct platform. In this case it will be the Windows version.

Choose your applicable SDK Starter package.

Choose your applicable SDK Starter package.

That’s it for the direct downloads.

Step 2: Setting up

Start up and install the Java JDK + JRE that you downloaded. Extract the Android SDK in any convenient location that you want to. Now you are ready to add the correct development platform and other files that are required. In the Android SDK folder that you have just created, you will find an application “SDK Setup.exe”. Double click on this file and you will get to see the “Android SDK and AVD Manager” screen. This tool allows you to add the correct SDK packages to the system.

The List of available packages are on the right. You need to choose the same version as your phone's Android version. Also choose the correct API and USB drivers.

The List of available packages are on the right. You need to choose the same version as your phone's Android version. Also choose the correct API and USB drivers.

Click on “Available Packages” and expand the list on the right. There may be a connection error which you can fix by clicking on “Settings” on the left and choosing the “Force https” option on the right side. The “Available Packages” list gives you the versions of the SDK plarforms and the APIs required for the same. Choose the correct version to install, along with the “USB Driver Package”, whichever is the latest option.

Click on the “Install” button to start the package download. This will install all the required files for your chosen platform. You can close the window once the download and install is finished.

On your Android device, you need to enable USB debugging from the settings. On my device running 1.5, it is accessible in Setting->Application->Development.

Step 3: Using Dalvik Debug Monitor

Connect your phone to the computer with the USB cable that came with the phone.

In your Android SDK folder, you can find a Tools folder. Within this folder you will find ddms.bat. This is the Dalvik Debug Monitor and this is what you will be using to get those screenshots. Once your phone is connected to the system you need to run the Dalvik Debug Monitor. Your phone should show up in the left panel of ddms. In the bottom panel you will see a long string of messages. This is the output from your device being logged by ddms. You can ignore those.

The Dalvik Debugging Monitor is the tool that we need to use for the screen caputure function. The option is available in the Device menu.

The Dalvik Debugging Monitor is the tool that we need to use for the screen caputure function. The option is available in the Device menu.

From the top menu choose Device -> Screen Capture. A pop-up windows should now show your current screen. Happy capturing.

That's it. We are done. Refresh the screen and capture to your heart's content.

That's it. We are done. Refresh the screen and capture to your heart's content.

Note: Some other websites and the Android website itself, add an extra step of downloading and setting up the Eclipse IDE. This is not required unless you are actually considering developing applications for Android. If you just want the screenshots, the above procedure is enough.

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