How to Take a Screenshot on iOS or Android

Take a picture of what's on your screen with these instructions

Woman on cell phone
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Sometimes you'll want or need to take a picture of what's on your screen, whether it's an image for troubleshooting problems with tech support or you just want to share your screen with others for any other reason (like showing everyone your tricked out homescreen). Both iOS and Android--for most cases--have built-in screenshot (a.k.a. screengrabbing) features. Here's how to take a screenshot on your iPhone, iPad, or Android device.

How to Take a Screenshot on the iPhone or iPad

Thanks to its universal design, the instructions for capturing what's currently on your screen are the same for both iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch:

  1. Press and hold down the power button
  2. At the same time, press and hold down the home button
  3. You'll hear a satisfying click to tell you your screenshot has been taken.
  4. Go to the Photos (or Camera Roll) app to find that screenshot at the end of the list, where you can send the screenshot by email or save or share it another way.

You could do it in reverse (i.e., press and hold the home button first then the power button). In either case, it's a bit easier to press and hold one of the buttons before you quickly press the other than trying to press both simultaneously.

How to Take a Screenshot on Android

On Android, how to take a screenshot depends on your device and Android operating system. As mentioned previously, Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) comes with screenshot capabilities out of the box. All you need to do is hit the power and volume down buttons at the same time (in the Nexus 7 tablet, for example, both buttons are on the right side of the tablet. Hold the top, power, button first and quickly hit the bottom of the volume rocker below it).

For smartphones and tablets running an earlier version of Android, you'll need to either use your device's built-in screenshot feature or a third-party app. These can differ depending on your particular device.

For example, on my Samsung Galaxy S2, the screengrab feature is triggered by hitting the power and home buttons at the same time. (For some reason I find this less tricky than the new ICS and beyond power+volume button method.)

No Root Screenshot It is a screengrabbing app for Android--and it doesn't require root--but costs $4.99. Still, it's an alternative to rooting your phone and offers a couple of advanced screenshot features such as annotating images, cropping them, and sharing them to custom directories.

As with the iOS screengrab method, you'll find your screenshot after you've taken it in your photo gallery app, where you can share or save it wherever you want.

Why Isn't This Working?

It took me a while moving from the Galaxy S2 screenshot method to the Nexus 7 one to get it down pat, and even now sometimes I miss. Unfortunately sometimes grabbing the screenshot at the perfect moment can feel as tricky as hunting a wild animal with your camera. A few tips that might help reduce your error rate:

  1. Make sure you hold down both buttons for at least a few seconds until you hear the click and see the screengrab animation (if any; usually it's on Android) on your screen.
  2. If you don't, try again, holding down one button first and then quickly holding down the other and waiting until you get that click.
  3. Sometimes a status screen or the main function of that button (e.g., lower the volume) can get in the way of that screenshot (annoying!). The key to prevent that from happening is to hold down both buttons as closely as possible at the same time.