How to Take a Screenshot on Nintendo 3DS

Capture your screen on the 2DS, 3DS, and New 3DS XL

Nintendo 3DS XL model

Every 3DS model includes a camera, and it's even possible to take screenshots of the home screen, but there is no built-in feature for capturing screenshots while actually playing games. Therefore, you must hack your 3DS or use emulators to screenshot Nintendo 3DS games.

Instructions in this article apply to all Nintendo 3DS and 2DS models, including the New 3DS XL.

Can You Take Screenshots on the 3DS?

Taking screenshots on the Nintendo 3DS has always been a challenge, but it got considerably harder when Nintendo discontinued the Miiverse back in 2017. However, with the right tools, it's still possible capture 3DS screenshots regardless of which model you own.

Nintendo 3DS Capture Cards

Third-party developers have created accessories that enable players to take screenshots and even record gameplay footage on their 3DS. Unfortunately, such devices are expensive and increasingly difficult to find. If you choose to purchase a 3DS capture card, make sure it's compatible with your specific model.

How to Take Screenshots of the 3DS Home Screen

The home screen is the first screen you see when you boot up your 3DS. It's possible to capture the top screen, the bottom screen, or both by holding Y and pressing the directional pad.

  • Press Y+Up to capture the top screen.
  • Press Y+Down to capture the bottom screen.
  • Press Y+Right to capture both screens.
Press Y + Up to capture the top screen, press Y + Down to capture the bottom screen, and press Y + Right to capture both screens.

Screenshots are saved to the SD card in the .bmp format. A separate .bin file will also be generated, which can be deleted when you open the SD card on your computer.

Unfortunately, this feature has limited usefulness since it only works on the home screen and nowhere else.

How to Screenshot Nintendo 3DS Games With an Emulator

Before you start hacking your device, the safest way to get screenshots of 3DS games is to use an emulator. If you can find a Nintendo 3DS emulator and the appropriate ROMs, you can play 3DS games and take screenshots on your computer.

Emulators are perfectly legal, but the use and distribution of ROMs for games you don't own are prohibited. Nonetheless, there are plenty of places online to find ROMs for popular 3DS titles.

How to Take a 3DS Screenshot in Animal Crossing: New Leaf for 3DS

A few 3DS games, like Animal Crossing: New Leaf, allow players to capture screenshots. Hold L+R during gameplay to capture the screen. The image will be saved to the SD card so you can transfer it to your computer later.

A few other titles, like Pokémon X & Y and Pilotwings Resort, allow you to take screenshots during certain parts of the game, but the screenshots can't always be saved to the SD card, so they're only for viewing on your device.

How to Transfer 3DS Screenshots to a Computer

There's no way to directly connect a 3DS to a computer, so you must use an SD card to transfer files between devices. All 3DS systems come with an SD card, but if you don't have one, make sure to purchase one that's compatible with your model. If your computer doesn't have an SD card slot, then you'll also need an external memory card reader.

To move screenshots from the 3DS to a computer:

  1. Turn off your 3DS and remove the SD card.

  2. Inset the SD card into your computer's reader.

  3. Open the contents of the SD card and select the DCIM folder.

    Open the contents of the SD card and select the DCIM folder.

    If you've taken screenshots using custom firmware, they'll be located in a different folder.

  4. Double-click the folder to open it.

    Open the folder inside the DCIM folder.
  5. Here you'll find the screenshots along with some .bin files. Select the image files to preview them.

    Here you will find the screenshots along with some .bin files. Select the image files to preview them.
  6. Copy the images to your computer, then delete the .bin files from your 3DS.

How to Share 3DS Screenshots and Photos on Social Media

It's possible to share screenshots and pictures you've taken with the 3DS camera on Twitter and Facebook. To post screenshots to social media:

  1. From the home menu, tap the Home Settings icon in the upper-left corner of the bottom screen.

    Tap the Home Settings icon in the upper-left corner of the bottom screen.
  2. Scroll down and tap Nintendo 3DS Image Share.

    Scroll down and tap Nintendo 3DS Image Share.

    You might be prompted to enter your date of birth. You must be at least 13 years old to use social media features on the 3DS.

  3. Tap Log in to Facebook or Log in to Twitter, then enter your email and password.

    Tap Log in to Facebook.
  4. After you've logged in, tap Browse.

    Tap Browse to select a screenshot.
  5. Highlight the image you want and tap Confirm.

    Highlight the image you want and tap Confirm.
  6. Add a comment for your timeline if you'd like, and then tap Post.

    Add a comment for your timeline if you'd like, and then tap Post.
  7. Tap Back or the Home button to return to the home screen.

    Tap Back or the Home button to return to the home screen.
  8. The screenshot will appear on your Facebook or Twitter timeline for the world to see.

How to Take 3DS Screenshots With Custom Firmware

Hacking your 3DS to install custom firmware gives you the ability to take screenshots at any time. You can also use homebrew apps, bypass region locks, and take advantage of the GateShark cheat engine for 3DS games.

That said, modding the 3DS is notoriously difficult due to frequent firmware updates from Nintendo. Furthermore, modding your 3DS will void the warranty, and there's a small chance you'll cause irreparable damage to your device. Nintendo has also reportedly banned users with hacked devices from using online services, including the eShop and Netflix, so only go this route if you're willing to accept the risks.

The 3DS Hacks Guide has extensive tutorials for modding all versions of the 3DS, and is frequently updated when Nintendo releases updates for the default firmware. The exact process for taking 3DS screenshots will differ depending on which custom firmware you choose.