How to Make a Screen Capture From Android 2.3 and Earlier

It's not easy, but not impossible to take screenshots on older Androids

Doctor and patient looking at application on smartphone to capture screen image

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If you own a newer Android smartphone or tablet, the steps for taking a screenshot are fairly straightforward; however, older versions of Android lack built-in screen capture capabilities, so you must hack your device using your computer to take screenshots.

Instructions in this article apply to mobile devices running Android 2.3 or earlier. Try updating your version of Android to use the simpler method for taking screenshots.

How to Take Screenshots in Older Versions of Android

You'll need a computer and a USB cable to connect your mobile device. The process is basically the same for Mac, Linux, and Windows:

  1. Install the latest version of Java on your computer.

  2. Download and install the Android Developer Kit (Android SDK) for your operating system. You can download the SDK for free from Google's Android developer's site.

  3. Open the newly installed Android Studio and navigate to Tools > Android > Monitor or click the Android icon on the toolbar to open DDMS.

    If you're on a Mac, it will launch Terminal and run DDMS in Java.

  4. Adjust your phone settings:

    1. Press the physical Menu button on your device.
    2. Tap Applications.
    3. Tap Development.
    4. Check the box next to USB debugging.

    The locations of Settings options may vary slightly from phone to phone.

  5. Connect your Android device to your computer using a USB cable.

  6. Go back to DDMS to see your Android device listed under the section labeled Name. The name may be a series of letters and numbers.

    DDMS Dalvik Debug Monitor

    Some devices require a restart before the USB debugging setting is effective, so if your device isn't listed, restart your phone and plug it in again.

  7. Highlight your phone in the Name section, and then press Control+S. A screen capture from your mobile device displays, which you can save as a PNG file on your computer.

    Some phones, such as the DROID X, automatically mount the SD card when you try to screen capture, so they will not capture pictures of your photo gallery.

  8. Click Refresh for a new screen capture.

Unfortunately, there is no way to capture moving images or videos in older versions of Android.