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How to take a screenshot

On paper, taking a screenshot on your smartphone might seem like a simple process.

In reality, this pre-installed utility is complicated by platform inconsistencies and practical issues.

For one thing, screenshots aren’t always the most efficient or effective way to convey information.

They could confuse audiences who wrongly assume they can interact with a static image, tapping hyperlinked text or trying to read beyond the end of the graphic.

Worse, different handsets take and store screen grabs in markedly different ways.

Apple customers have to follow various processes depending on whether their iPhone has Face ID or touch ID, and side or top buttons.

Clearly, there’s more to knowing how to take a screenshot than you might imagine.

But before we get into the mechanics of physically capturing and storing on-screen data, let’s consider why this is a beneficial process.

Screen time

A screen grab is great for saving information that would otherwise be lost, like a comical typo in a live news feed or a pop-up achievement notification while playing a game.

Screenshots are useful for demonstrating problems – sending an on-screen error message to an IT professional – or exporting from apps which don’t otherwise support saving or storing.

Pre-lockdown, they were ideal for capturing boarding passes, QR codes and digital tickets, avoiding embarrassment at the head of a travel queue if internet connectivity was unavailable.

From shopping lists to website URLs, knowing how to take a screenshot is an important aspect of smartphone ownership.

But how do you actually capture them?

Samsung

Samsung owners can take a screengrab using a process called Palm Swipe.

Simply drag the side of one hand across the screen from left to right (or vice versa).

Alternatively, press the power button a fraction of a second before the home button and then hold them both down.

The phone will vibrate, and the acquired screenshot will briefly flash before vanishing into the Screenshots folder of the phone’s Gallery storage.

Other Android devices

Non-Samsung handsets running Android 4.0 or newer (any device released since 2014) offers an alternative way of saving a screen shot.

Press the power and volume down buttons (typically at opposite sides of the handset) until you hear a click and your screenshot flashes momentarily.

This method also works for the latest Galaxy S20 Samsung handsets, which lack a physical Home button.

Meanwhile, devices running Android 10 can acquire a screenshot simply by holding down the power button and choosing the appropriate option.

Apple

You might assume Apple devices would be more standardised than the fragmented Android ecosystem, with its roster of rival manufacturers.

However, you’d be wrong. The process changed following the controversial abolition of the home button.

If your iPhone has Face ID, you need to press the side and volume up buttons and then quickly release them.

Devices equipped with Touch ID in lieu of Face ID require you to press the side and home buttons simultaneously.

That’s unless they have a top button instead of a side button, in which case you’ll have to contort your hands into touching the top and bottom of the phone simultaneously.

As with Android, screenshots are saved in a dedicated folder away from camera pictures.
Although this segregation is practical, it’s not always intuitive, and many people will end up trying to find a recent screengrab in and amongst camera photos.

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