Taking a screenshot

Taking a screenshot on Android is usually as simple as simultaneously holding down the power button and volume-down button, but various alternative methods can be found on the great many Android phones and tablets on the market.

For a quick standard screenshot, first try exactly this: press the power button and volume-down button together, and hold for a few seconds until the screen flashes to signal the screengrab has been captured.

There is a slight knack to this action: press the power button too soon and the display will switch off; press the volume-down button too soon and your screenshot may be marred by an onscreen volume slider.

In most versions of Android you will get a notification pop up to confirm the screenshot was successful; some will automatically open that screenshot or present it in a pop-up window you can select to access sharing options. You can also find the screenshot in your Gallery app.

How to do it

If pressing the power button and volume down button doesn't work, this is probably because your phone or tablet has a physical home button. Try swapping out the power button for the home button in this scenario.

To take a screenshot, simultaneously press and hold for a few seconds the home button and volume-down button. As in the previous step, the screen will flash to signal to you that the screengrab has been captured, and you'll then be able to access sharing options.

This method has long been the screenshotting process of choice for Samsung's Galaxy S-series, but with the Galaxy S8 no longer featuring a home button you must instead press power and volume down.

Swipe on Samsung

If you are using a Samsung Galaxy phone to take a screenshot, you will find another option at your disposal.

You'll need to turn on this functionality in Settings, Motions and gestures, Palm swipe to capture first, but Samsung Galaxy phones allow you to take a screenshot with a swipe of the palm.

It's a cool but rather gimmicky feature, mind, and we find the home-volume-down combination works more reliably.

Extra functions on Samsung

Screenshots on Samsung Galaxy phones now feature extra functionality, too. These changes were introduced with the Galaxy S7 but rolled back to the Galaxy S6, and we expect to see them in the Galaxy S8 too.

Screenshots, by default, show only what's on your phone or tablet's screen, but sometimes you need to capture more of the content on, say, a web page, but don't want to have to take multiple screenshots and then stitch them together.

Now when you take a screenshot on a Samsung Galaxy phone you'll see four options pop up at the bottom of the screen: Scroll capture, Draw, Crop and Share. You can use the first option to take longer screenshots, the second to annotate them and the third to display only the information you want to be shown. The fourth option, Share, will allow you to send that screenshot to any compatible apps on your device.

On Sony phones

Moving on from the Samsung Galaxy series, some phones feature a screen capture option from the power options menu. To take a screenshot you need only press and hold the power button, then select Take screenshot.

As is the case with the Sony Xperia Z5, pictured here, you may also find a Record screen option. This takes a video of whatever actions you then perform after selecting the option, and is incredibly useful if you want to show someone how to do something step by step without overwhelming them with a succession of screenshots.

Screen recording used to be available to Android phones only if they were rooted, but it's possible to take a screencast on any phone or tablet running Android 5.0 Lollipop or later. We'll show you how on the next slide.

Screen recording

Screencasts are now possible in all devices running Android Lollipop and later. You may have an app preinstalled on your phone that will do this for you - check before you download another one - but if not simply launch Google Play and search for Screen Recorder.

The app we have used in the past is now called the Riv Screen Recorder. It's free to install, but there are now many other options too.

Simply install the app, click Open, and press the Start Recording button to begin your screencast. Press Stop Recording when you have finished, and the file will appear in the main window with playback, sharing and delete options.

You can use the video editor on your phone to trim the start and end points accordingly.

On older versions of Android

It's worth pointing out that it's only been possible to take screenshots on Android without rooting the device since Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Most of us are using newer versions of the OS now, but there are still some legacy Android devices kicking around.

At the latest count on 6 July 2017, Android Developers said 0.7 percent of all Android devices were still running Android 2.3 Gingerbread. You can see which version of Android you're running in the Settings, About device menu.

If you're running Gingerbread or an even older version of Android you'll need to download an app to take a screenshot. This is where things get a little confusing as the effectiveness of the screenshot apps on offer vary from phone to phone.

If you're willing to pay for an app - and you don't want to go through the hassle of rooting your Android device - you should try an app such as No Root Screenshot It (£2.99).

Bear in mind that "This application will instruct you to download and install a free desktop application on your Windows or Mac. Once installed, you must run the desktop application with your phone attached to your computer. This will enable screenshots on your phone.”

Follow Marie Black on Twitter.