Android screen capture, how to record the phone screen

There isn’t any app for Android that lets you screen record. While there are apps that lets you screen shot, there’s none to this date to capture screens recordings, say for a minute.

There are a handful of apps that lets you screen record on the Google play. These apps will only work on the rooted device. This is because a screen recorder app can’t work with normal user privileges you have on your device by default, so it needs to be rooted to gain a super user privilege to get it working.

One app that works on my android phone is Z-screen recorder. This app as well needs your phone to be rooted before using it. The app’s 1 star rating is about twice as it’s 5 star ratings. This tells me that people find it hard or don’t want to root their phones.

So if Z-screen recorder doesn’t work on your android phone or tablet even if it’s rooted, or you don’t want to give rooting your device a shot, there’s an alternate method available which might seem kind of awkward, but there is no choice other than to deal with it.

The Method

So what is the method?

In a nutshell, you use the Android SDK’s DDMS screen capture and select camtasia’s recording area on that, you keep using the phone on one hand while you keep hitting the refresh screen on the screen capture window for it to continuously show the phone’s actions that are being captured by the camtasia. You can hit the refresh button once, then use space key to constantly hit the refresh for the screen to update.

Remember, Camtasia has an editor built in, so editing is fairly simply.

The Initial Setup

Though it may sound a tedious work, most of that is an one time work.

To get started,

You need an Android SDK (standard development kit) and a regular screen capture like Techsmith’s Camtasia Studio.

Camtasia is available for both Windows and Mac. Camtasia has a free 30 days trial so you can make the most of it while it lasts before deciding to buy. Setting up Camtasia is like any other software setup, its a fairly quick process.

On the other hand, Android SDK setup is a bit time consuming, we’ll talk about that in a bit.

On the other note, Android SDK is available for Mac as well, but its ADT (Android Developer Tools) kit is only available for 64 bit of Mac OS. For 32 bit Mac OS, you can get it here. That is just the SDK tools and not the full blown kit.

As said earlier, Android SDK kit is about 400 Mb, so it may take quite a while to get it all set up, let’s take a look at how to get it all set up to begin screen recording,

STEP 1: Setting up Android SDK

Few paras above you will see a link to Android SDK setup. Download it, its about 400Mb. It’s a zip file. Once you downloaded the zip file, extract it to a folder to a location you’d likely to remember. The folder contents would look like as shown in the image below,


Open SDK Manager.exe to start the installation process. It didn’t open up for me, it may open for you. When it doesn’t work, go to the eclipse folder, open the eclipse.exe. Eclipse opens up, now navigate to Window on the menu bar, click open Android SDK Manager, (image below)

This opens Android SDK Manager, feel free to choose all packages you’d like to install, but for screen recording, Google USB driver is alone enough,

android sdk manager google usb driver

Installing this package alone is enough for screen recording. You can as well as take a screen shot with this method.

STEP 2: Connecting your phone to computer with an USB plug

This needs no explanation, you just hook your phone to your computer with an USB plug, and you are set.

STEP 3: Opening Screen Capture

This was easier before when you just navigate to Tools folder, (adt-bundle-windows-x86-20130514\sdk\tools) and open, ddms.bat to open the DDMS (Dalvik Debug Monitor Server) from where you can open the screen capture. As opening DDMS directly as a standalone is depreciated, you need to open it from Eclipse.

To do that,

Open Eclipse, Window > Open Perspective > DDMS



Click on the Camera icon, to open the Device Screen Capture,


Now what you see on your phone is seen here. Hit refresh to show the current phone screen. You can hit copy or save to save it as an screen shot image.

STEP 4: Recording the screen

Open Camtasia recorder, select the area over the phone screen, and hit record. Refresh the screen rapidly, you don’t need to click on the refresh button every time, just click it once, and hit space to refresh then on constantly. Only images are captured not the audio. Below is a video I captured with this method,


Thanks @Emma92248469 for the idea here.

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