Monday, March 25, 2013

Mobile Screenshots

Another in my series of "things you all should know, but I keep having to explain how I do it." If you design, specify, manage, develop or test, for mobile you have to take screenshots. Maybe a lot. Most of us do not have the SDK installed or when the need pops up we're not tethered to a computer anyway. We need to be able to take a screenshot easily, at a moment's notice.

To get the screenshot:

Android 4.0 and higher
The official key combination is Power and Volume Down. Hold them both, and after a brief pause the screen flashes.
A few devices use their own. The Galaxy S3, at least, uses Power + Home. Why, I do not know.
Images are stored in a folder alongside all the other photos you take with the device, so can be found in the Gallery.
Older Android
Most of these have no specific key combination. It's not built into the OS, but a few OEMs did provide the functionality. Google your phone name plus "Screenshot" and see if anything comes up.
The best way I've found to get screenshots off these devices is No Root ScreenshotIt. You'll install an app, and also need to put a tiny application on a desktop computer (at least Windows and Mac). The only tedious part here is that when you power cycle the device you will need to re-enable the screenshot function by plugging into the desktop and running the app. Especially if testing, your phone may crash, so you'll need this capability with you, so it doesn't work well for some corporate users who cannot install desktop apps. I prefer this app to native things in some ways, as it has nice features like timed capture, so you can get stuff hard to capture otherwise.
Files are stored in a unique location, so you'll want to get a file explorer also, so you can make sure they are being taken, view them, and so on.
Just press and hold the Home/Menu button (big one on the front of the device) and the Power/Lock button (top of the device) as the same time. The screen will flash white for a moment.
Images are stored in a folder where all other photos are stored.
Blackberry OS
There is no built in screen grab utility.
The best to download seems to be Screen Grabber.
Blackberry 10
Press both the Volume Up and Volume Down keys at the same time. You'll hear a quick camera click.
To find the files, use File Manager, make sure Device is selected, then open the Camera folder.
Windows Phone
Press the Start (Windows key) and Power buttons at the same time.
Screenshots are saved in a "Screenshots" album in the Photos Hub
Press and hold the Menu and Lock keys. After a short delay, the screenshot is taken and a message indicates this.

Long ago I heard that way over 99% of all photos never got off the phone. I believe it, and think the problem is just as bad on screenshots. You have to be able to send it places, edit it, post it, and a lot of people get hung up at this point.

Android allows just browsing the file system, so if you have time and a cable that's not a terrible solution. iOS doesn't really allow direct file system browser, but you can find scripts to download only specific camera rolls to specific places on the computer.

Emailing is at best tedious. And if you screenshot an entire process -- or there's an actual or de facto corporate "no email attachments" policy -- that won't work well anyway.

The best is some cloud storage solution. There are several options for remote synch storage, but I find DropBox to work the best for this sort of thing. It can be configured to automatically upload images from various folders, but even if you have to manually select screenshots, it's not too bad.

On Android, DropBox will show up as a shareable option. Pick the images, and go. iOS makes you go from the DropBox side, but you can still pick individual files, and put them in specific places (like to segregate one client from another).

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