How to Take Android Screenshots without an App

From funny tweets to work-related matters, taking a picture of your phone’s screen can be useful. As such, you may find it tempting to turn to apps in order to take pictures of your device’s screen. While apps can work perfectly well, you may not actually need an app to perform a screenshot on your device. In fact, your device may have been able to take screenshots the moment it was taken out of the box!

It may seem weird that an Android device can take screenshots without the aid of a third-party app. However, as of Android 4.0, the feature was deemed important enough to put within the base Android OS. As such, if you own a device with Android 4.0 or above, you should be able to take a screenshot without any app downloads whatsoever.

How It’s Done

So, how do you take a screenshot without needing to boot up an app?

Newer Android versions have been programmed to look for a specific button combination in order to take a screenshot. This is done by holding down the Power and Volume Down buttons at the same time. Of course, you should be quick with pressing both buttons, or you might accidentally turn off your device instead!

If this works, then the device will take a screenshot. Different devices handle screenshots in different ways (Mine, for instance, automatically boots an image editor to customise the screenshot in.), but in general, you’ll know a screenshot has been taken because Android will report it in its notification bar, as depicted in the following image.


If It Doesn’t Work

However, your device may not use this specific combination. For example, Samsung Galaxy phones typically take a screenshot when you hold down Power and Home. Samsung sometimes even allows you to swipe your hand across the screen to take a screenshot. Other devices may not have a key combination but instead have a screenshot button within the notification bar. My device takes a screenshot if you hold down the active app’s button at the bottom. As you can see, there can be different ways to trigger a screenshot depending on the device model you’re using

If you run Android 4.0 or above and can’t seem to take a screenshot, double-check with your device’s manufacturer on how to do it. You can do this by reading the device manual or by entering your device’s model name, along with “take screenshots,” into your favoured search engine.

If You Don’t Have Screenshot Functionality

Unfortunately, you may find your device doesn’t come with a key combination to take a screenshot; perhaps the manufacturer didn’t put one in, or your device is a little too old to support it. If you’re in this boat, you’ll probably have to (unfortunately!) rely on apps to get the job done.


One solid app that implements a screenshot function is Screenshot Ultimate. Note that if you’re running Android 4.0 or higher, Screenshot Ultimate won’t work for you, citing that Android denies screenshot requests unless they’re made via the official “Power + Volume Down” method. If you don’t have built-in screenshot functionality, however, Screenshot Ultimate can do the job for you. It comes with a lot of nice features such as an option to always display a button onscreen that takes a screenshot when pressed, as well as the ability to take a screenshot when the user blows onto the device’s microphone.


If Screenshot Ultimate doesn’t do it for you, you can try Screenshot Easy instead. Screenshot Easy comes with some nice features, such as the ability to put an icon into the notifications bar which takes a picture when tapped or activating it when you shake your device. You can even customise where the screenshots are saved, how the filenames are generated, and the file type of the images.

Calling the Shots

If you ever want to take a screenshot on your Android, you may not need an app to do it. Newer phones supporting Android 4.0 should have screenshot functionality by default. Even if you don’t have a newer device, you can still enjoy taking screenshots with some useful apps.

How important is taking screenshots on your mobile device to you? Let us know below.

Simon Batt
Simon Batt

Simon Batt is a Computer Science graduate with a passion for cybersecurity.

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