Follow these instructions for the easiest ways to capture your iPhone or Android phone screen.
There are many reasons you might want to take a quick screenshot with your phone. Perhaps it’s to save a cool post on Instagram or document the newest in high fashion to help you dress better, or maybe it’s to archive a wonderful text conversation you had with your friends or family.
Whatever the reason, here are several easy ways to capture your iPhone ($1,000 at Amazon) or Android screen. Stretch those fingers because they’re going to be a lot of buttons getting pressed (Actual buttons not figurative ones).
You might already know how to take a screenshot, but it turns out there are a number of ways to capture what’s on your phone’s display, especially on Android. If you own a Motorola phone or a Samsung phone, not only do you have a couple different ways to take a picture of your screen, but you have fun and interesting ways to do so without ever pressing a button.
If you’d like to follow along as we create screenshots step-by-step, watch the video below: How to take screenshots on your iPhone or Android phone.
How to take screenshots on iPhone X and 11
Let’s start with iPhones that don’t have a home button: the X, XS, XR, all three new iPhone 11 phones. If you own one of those phones (or preordered one), chances are you have unintentionally taken many screenshots by accidentally mashing the winning button combination. But here’s how to take a screenshot on purpose.
Simultaneously press the power button and volume up button. You need a Goldilocks press for this. If you do one that’s not too short, then nothing will happen or you might trigger Siri. If you do one that’s too long, then the power off and SOS screen will appear. I unscientifically timed it and it takes a 0.9-second button press to trigger a screenshot.
In our unscientific timing, you have to hold the power and volume buttons for 0.9 seconds in order to trigger a screenshot.Patrick Holland/CNET
When you take a screenshot successfully, you’ll see the screen flash and hear a camera shutter sound. A miniature version of your screenshot will float on the bottom left of your screen. You can tap on it and go into Markup mode to crop, edit or add text right away without having to go into the Photos app first, which is terrific.
If you don’t want to edit your screen grab, you can just swipe the mini version away or wait for it to disappear on its own after a few seconds. By default, your screenshot will save to the Photos app.
In iOS 13, when you screenshot a webpage in Safari, you have the option to capture the entire page or just what was on your screen.
How to take screenshots on iPhone 8 and earlier
If your iPhone has a home button, there is a different way to take a screenshot. Press the home button and the sleep/wake button at the same time. A mini version of your screenshot will pop-up on the bottom left of the screen.
You can tap on it to edit it or share it right away.
How to take screenshots on Android smartphones
Android has many avenues to capture the contents of your screen. The universal way is to simultaneously hold the power button and the volume down button. The screen will then flash and a framed version of your screenshot will appear on the display.
Depending on your phone, an editing window might pop-up. Otherwise, the screenshot will disappear off the screen. Screenshots are saved in the Google Photos app, or in your phone’s native gallery app.
Motorola’s three-finger touch method
If you own any recent Motorola phone, like the excellent Moto G7, you can use the power and volume button technique or a three-finger method. This latter technique happens to be one of my favorite ways to take a screenshot because there is very much a Spock-Vulcan-neck-pinch Star Trek vibe about the whole thing.
To enable three-finger screenshot, go into the Moto app or if you’re on an older Motorola phone find the Moto Actions menu in Settings. Turn on Three Finger Screenshot. You can tap on the description to bring up a quick animated tutorial on how to use it.
Now anytime you want to take a screenshot, simply press on the display with three fingers at the same time. The screen will flash and a screenshot editor will appear.
Samsung’s karate chop technique
Perhaps the most interesting way to take a screenshot comes from Samsung. You can, of course, use the Android system way with the power and volume buttons. But there are a couple of other options one of which involves using your palm — no joke. The Galaxy Note 10 even has a new tool to record your screen.
The palm method involves holding your hand in a “karate chop” pose (so basically, the edge of your hand is perpendicular to the screen) and dragging the side of your hand across the display. To enable, go into Settings and tap the magnifying glass icon. In the search field, type the word “palm” and you’ll see a menu option Palm swipe to capture appear.
Tap on Palm swipe to capture and you’ll be brought to the Motions and gestures menu. From there you can find Palm swipe to capture in the list and a button to enable it on the right. If you tap on the description, you’ll be guided through a quick tutorial.
I’ll admit, this gesture isn’t as reliable as the power and volume button press, but you can do it one-handed by merely grazing your phone’s screen.
Samsung’s Edge Panel lets you take precise screenshots
By the way, Samsung didn’t stop with the palm because in the Edge Panel on Galaxy phones you can also make screen grabs but with more precision.
To enable the Edge Panel go into Settings and tap the magnifying glass icon. In the search field, type the word “edge” and you’ll see the menu option “Edge Panel” pop-up. Tap on Edge Panel and you’ll be brought to the Edge Panels set-up screen.
There is a blue strip with an on/off button to enable Edge Panels. Below that button is a gallery of various Edge Panels. Scroll until you find the one called Smart Select. Tap on the radio button to enable the Smart Select menu.
When you want to capture your Galaxy phone’s screen more precisely, open the Edge Panel by deliberately swiping from the right edge of the display to the left. With the Edge Panel open, swipe through the various panels until you land on Smart Select. From there, you can select a rectangular capture, and oval capture or an animation capture that lets you make a GIF.
After you select the way you want to capture the screen a box or oval will appear. You can resize and reposition the tool over the part of the screen you want to capture then tap Done. From there, you are brought into a screenshot editor.
You now know how to take screenshots on pretty much any phone you can imagine. If you like Samsung’s Edge Panel, check out our story on how to make GIFs with the Edge Panel.