How to Make a Screen Capture From Android 3.0 and Earlier

DDMS Dalvik Debug Monitor
This is the area where your phone will be displayed in DDMS. Screen capture

This tutorial applies to all versions of Android 3.0 and below, including Android Honeycomb tablets like the Motorola Xoom. If you've got a recent phone or tablet like those made by Samsung, Google, Huawei, or Xiaomi, there's good news. You probably don't need to use this complicated method to just take a simple screen capture. 

Before you begin, you should make sure you've installed an up to date version of Java on your computer.

Difficulty: Average

Time Required: 20-30 Minutes Setup

Here's How:

  1. Download the Android Developer Kit or SDK. You can download it free from Google's Android developer's site. Yes, this is the same kit app developers use to write Android apps.
  2. After installing the Android Developer Kit, you should have something in your tools directory called Dalvik Debug Monitor Server or DDMS. This is the tool that will allow you to take screen captures.You should be able to just double-click and launch DDMS once you have everything installed. If you're on a Mac it will launch Terminal and run DDMS in Java.
  3. Now you've got to change the settings on your Android phone. The settings may vary slightly for different phones, but for a stock version of Android 2.2:
      1. Press the physical Menu button.
  4. Press Applications.
  5. Press Development.
  6. Next, check the box next to USB debugging. It's important that this be turned on.
  7. Now you're ready to connect the pieces together. Connect your Android phone to your computer using the USB cord.
  8. Go back to DDMS. You should see your Android phone listed under the section labeled Name. The "name" might just be a series of letters and numbers rather than the proper name of the phone.
  1. Highlight your phone in the Name section, and then press Control-S or go to Device: Screen Capture.
  2. You should see a screen capture. You can click Refresh for a new screen capture, and you can save a PNG file of your captured image. You can't capture video or moving images, however.


  1. 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.
  2. You must see a device listed under the Name section in DDMS in order to take a screen capture.
  3. Some DROIDs are stubborn and require a restart before the USB debugging setting is effective, so if your device isn't listed, try restarting your phone and plugging it in again.

What You Need:

  • Java installed on your computer
  • The ability to unzip files from the Internet
  • Your phone's USB connection cable
  • An Android phone or tablet