Android Screenshot Not Working? Try These Fixes

Taking a screenshot on Android should be easy

When the Android screenshot function doesn’t work on your phone or tablet, one of several things might happen:

  • You get error messages, such as, “Can’t take screenshot due to security policy,” or, “Can’t take screenshot due to limited storage space.”
  • You use a physical method to take a screenshot (either swiping or pressing a combination of keys) but the image isn’t captured.
  • You use Google Assistant to take a screenshot, but the image isn’t captured.

Such issues can occur at random times, or during specific situations, such as when you use work apps on your personal phone. These tips might help when your screenshot is not working.

Cause of Screenshot Not Working Issues

If your phone was issued by work or school, it may have certain restrictions, such as not allowing screenshots. Even if you simply use some work or school accounts, those specific functions may disallow screenshots. Another cause is Chrome Incognito Mode, which also doesn’t allow screenshots. The problem could also be due to a mechanical issue, such as a broken button, or you may have low storage availability.

How to Enable Android Screenshots

  1. If your device was issued by school, work, or anyone else, you might check with them first to see if the problem is a known issue. If it is, IT might be able to resolve it for you.

    Be prepared for a possible “no” when you ask your school or work IT to fix a security issue. It might be set that way for a reason.

    If you installed a work-related application yourself, use the following path in Android 9 to uninstall it: Settings > Apps & notifications > See all apps > [selected app] > Uninstall.

    In Android 8 and 7, use Settings > Apps > [selected app] > Uninstall

  2. If you’re using Chrome Incognito Mode, you’ll need to disable it before you can take a screenshot. To do so:

    1. In the upper-right corner of Chrome, tap the Tabs icon, which will be a number representing the number of tabs you have open.
    2. Tap the X in the upper-right corner of each Incognito tab to close them.
    3. Open a new tab in regular mode, and take your screenshot from there. 
  3. If none of the above issues is the problem, try an alternate method for capturing a screenshot. The primary methods are (1) pressing a combination of keys on the device, (2) using the swipe function, or (3) using Google Assistant.

    The standard key combination is pressing the Volume Down and Power buttons at the same time. However, depending on your device model, it might be that you press the Home and Power buttons at the same time (Samsung Galaxy and Google Pixel devices use this method).

    If you have a Samsung Galaxy device, you can use a hand gesture to capture a screenshot. To enable this feature, go to Settings > Advanced features. Scroll down to Palm swipe to capture, and enable this setting. Once you have the feature enabled, hold your right hand straight out as though you’re going to shake someone’s hand. Place the outside of your hand straight up and down on the right side of the screen, then slide it over to the left side (you can also use your left hand and go left to right). 

    Android 7 is showing the Advanced Features menu.

    To use Google Assistant (GA) to capture a screenshot, start with the image you want to capture up on your screen. Say, “OK, Google, take a screenshot.” GA will respond, “OK, touch to continue." It will show a smaller version of the screen image, and options for sending it (e.g. text, email, social media, photo storage) will pop up. Choose the method you want to use for sending the image. 

    Google Assistant is taking a screenshot.
  4. To address messages like, “Couldn’t save screenshot. Storage may be in use,” or, “Can’t take screenshot due to limited storage space,” try rebooting your device. To do this, simply power it down as you normally would, then turn it back on.

    If that method doesn’t work, you can clear your cache. In Android 9 and 8, it’s a little trickier than in Android 7.

    1. From the Play Store, install the Files by Google app, and open it.
    2. At the bottom of the screen tap Browse.
    3. On the next screen tap Apps.
    4. In the upper-right corner tap the three-dot icon, and choose Select all.
    5. Tap the three dots again and select Delete junk files.
    Files by Google is showing the home screen.

    In Android 7, you won’t need Files by Google. Instead, go to Settings > Device Maintenance > Storage > Clean Now. This action frees up storage space by deleting unnecessary data, such as residual data and advertisement files in addition to cached data. 

  5. As a last resort, you can try a factory reset on your phone.

    Before taking this step, know that it will erase all your data. Be sure to back up contacts, images, videos, files, and other items you want to keep.

    The process for a factory reset varies depending on device. If the following steps don’t work, do a search within your settings for “factory reset.”

    In Android 9, go to Settings > System > Advanced > Reset options. Tap Erase all data (factory reset), then tap Reset phone. You may be asked to confirm your security settings. Then tap Erase everything.

    In Android 8 or 7, go to Settings > About device (or General Management) > Reset > Factory data reset. Follow on-screen instructions to complete the process. 

    Android 7 is showing the reset menu.
  6. Hopefully one of these tips has helped you get your screenshot feature working again. If not, it might be time to take your device to a professional.