How to grab a screenshot from iPhone, Android, and nearly any other smartphone

Let's share the masterpieces of organization we put so much time into. Not your desk, of course--your phone.


Windows Phone 7.5 screenshot, courtesy of Paul Thurrott's Windows SuperSite

Image via Paul Thurrott's Supersite for Windows.

A little while back, I asked readers and passing viewers how they organized their smartphone home screens. My editor, big-picture person that she is, noted that screenshots are not easy on some phones. Even on the phones where it is easy, the shortcut isn’t apparent. So let’s review the ways you can grab a screenshot from an iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, or Windows Phone.

iPhone/iPad/iPod touch

On any iOS device, you take a screenshot by holding down one button while clicking the other: either hold down the power/sleep button (on the top-right of your device) and click the main home button in the bottom-center, or hold the home button and click the power/sleep button. One combination will probably feel more right than the other, but either works. You’ll know it worked if you see the screen flash briefly and, if you have sounds enabled, hear a sound like a camera shutter.

Once you’ve taken a screenshot, you can find it in your Photos app. It’s not in the Photo Stream, but in the main Photos section. From there, you can email the photo to yourself, or send it via messaging. Your best bet, though, is to grab the free Dropbox app, then use it to upload photos from your device and share links to entire photo galleries.[1]

Android 4.0 and later

If your Android phone is running Ice Cream Sandwich, or Android 4.0, or any later version of Android, screenshots are nearly as easy as the iPhone. Hold the “Volume Down” button, then click the Power/Sleep/Wake button. You’ll see a notification that the screenshot was saved, and a camera-like flash and sound.

Head to your “Gallery” app (which could be named “Photos” or something similar on certain phone brands). Inside, look for a “Screenshots folder,” where you’ll find your snaps. Select any photo and choose the Share option (sometimes revealed by tapping on the photo again), which then allows for emailing, Dropbox-ing, or any other means you’d like of sharing your screen.

Android 2.3 and earlier

You have two real options when it comes to snagging a screenshot on Android phones that aren’t up to the bleeding edge. There is a third option that involves rooting your Android phone and installing root-required screenshot apps. But the apps I once vouched for in this regard are no longer in the Market/Play Store, and rooting is quite a bit more difficult, and much more risky, than the SDK method that yields about the same results.

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