Taking a screenshot on the Android/DROIDX, NASA style!

To know me, is to know how anti-NASA I am. Not that I don’t think going into space isn’t a good idea, it’s just that I think that with BILLIONS of dollars, we could instead come up with a better propulsion engine than “Hey, hold my beer, what if we light all this gas on fire and aim it downwards?”. NASA seems to be enormously inefficient, bloated, and in it’s own way.

ANYhow, in the spirit of the NASA/pencil joke – I can’t believe that Android OS can’t take a screenshot of itself…. easily. From what I gather, you have exactly two stunning options:

  • “root” your phone. That is, “hack” the operating system, update the firmware to a version some kid wrote instead of what the professional developers at Google wrote. From what I gather, you will then be on a different tract – so when new firmware versions come up, you have to either skip it or overwrite your changes. Either way, this is a pretty sucky option.
  • Set up a full-on, double-rainbow, all-the-way Android development environment so that you can use one tool to take a screenshot.

I chose the latter and sure enough, it works:


I was planning on dabbling in some Android development anyhow, so I already had some of it. In case you’re interested (and for future-me, for the next time I rebuild my workstation) – here is what I needed:

With the right driver, with USB debugging enabled on the phone, you should be able to unzip the ADK, go into the Tools directory and run “ddms.bat” and see the window below. If the driver and USB setting are good, you should see the device listed in the left. At that point, you can click on Device, then Screen Capture:


It’s amazing to think THIS is what’s required to take a screenshot. Both options are wildly unreasonable to me. I can’t begin to imagine why this ability isn’t part of the operating system, and how developers went this long without it? I mean at Google, when you got an error on a screen or when your testers do, shouldn’t they have the ability to take a screenshot? How did development and testing get this far along without this?! Anyhow – in case it helps…

Posted in New Technology, Uncategorized

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