How to Capture the screen of an Android device?


After we posted our first Android speed review, we got a handful of e-mails asking us how we managed to take screenshots directly off of the device. We looked around at a handful of other blogs - sure enough, the vast majority of them had fallen back to pointing a camera at the device’s screen and snapping away. While that’s slightly better than drawing the image on paper and scanning that in, we’ve got a better solution.

What you need:

* An Android device. At the time this was published, that probably means a T-Mobile G1
* USB Data cable for the device (For the G1 at least, it’s included in the box)
* Any computer which has USB and is compatible with the Android SDK (Windows, OS X, or Linux)

How to take the shots:

1. Download and install the Android SDK. Don’t worry - unlike some SDKs, installing the Android kit is completely straightforward.
2. Enable USB Debugging on the device by going to Settings -> Applications -> Development and checking the proper box.
3. Plug the Android device into the USB port.
4. Find the folder containing the SDK you just installed. The location will vary depending on which operating system you’re using, and where you chose to install it. On all platforms, the folder name should begin with “android-sdk-”. For example, the folder for the current build on OS X is “android-sdk-mac_x86-1.0_r1″
5. Open the tools folder within the Android SDK folder.
6. Double click the file titled “DDMS”. This stands for Dalvik Debug Monitor Service.
7. In DDMS, your device should be listed. Highlight it by clicking on it.
8. In the application’s top menus, go to Device -> Screen capture.

You should be good to go. Use the handset to navigate to whatever screen you want a shot of, press the “Refresh” button to recapture the screen, and once you’ve got it just right, hit the “Save” button. Once you’ve gone through it the first time, the process is actually easier than busting out the point-and-shoot.

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lucie said...

I followed your instructions and it is not working: when I launch DDMS (by clicking on the icon ddms.bat in the Tools folder, I do not see my device in the left pane.
Do you think you could help me out here? I have 2 hints:
- when I plug my g1 to the pc, the notification USB connected "select to copy files to/from your computer" appears, then a pop up window "select "Mount if you want to copy files between your computer and your phone's SD card". Shall I choose Mount or Don't Mount (either way it is not working)
- when I installed the sdk, I unzipped the folder into my Program Files folder, but did not install anything. I already have the JDK and Eclipse installed but how do I make sure it runs properly ?

Thank you for your help.


Tanya Dumaresq said...

Hi Lucie,

This is the same problem I encountered.

The solution is to install the proper USB driver:

1. When you first connect your Android phone you probably get a popup asking you to install some hardware (automatically or from specified location)
2. Choose specified location and browse to "your sdk folder"/usb_driver/
3. Install the proper driver for your system

Then your device should appear in the DDMS gui.


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