Recording your Android device’s screen used to be a real chore—it required root access, and even then it was a janky workaround at best. But back with KitKat (Android 4.4), Google incorporated a way to do this natively, making it much easier.
There are basically two ways of capturing your Android device’s screen: the “official” Google way (using adb), or using a third-party app to do the hard work for you, without plugging into a computer. We’ll cover both ways here, and you can choose which one works best for you from there.
The Easy, Unofficial Method: Capture Your Device’s Screen with AZ Screen Recorder
While this method is unofficial, it’s definitely the easier method, so it’s what we recommend for most people. There are dozens of screen recording apps in the Play Store at this point, but we’re going to use AZ Screen Recorder for this. It’s easy to use and full of useful features, which is really all any could want from a screen recorder. Right?
There is a free version of AZ available, if you want advanced functionality (and no ads), there’s also a $2.99 premium version.
Go ahead and install it from the Play Store, then fire it up. it’ll take a second to get everything ready, then a small popup window will show up on with a handful of buttons: Settings, Screenshot, Record, Images, and Market. The only ones you really need to be concerned with are Settings and Record. There’s also a notification bar entry you can use to access AZ’s features.
Starting with the Settings menu, there are a couple of things you may want to tweak here, like video resolution, frame rate, and the like. There are also options to show touches, use the cameras to include a PIP environment, record audio, and more. There are a lot of features here, so if you find yourself using AZ a lot, it’s worth digging into a little it.
Once you’ve tweaked all the things you want to tweak, pull the shade down and tap “Record” to start capturing the screen.
A window will pop up letting you know that everything on the screen will be captured. Accept this to initiate the recording. A timer will start, giving you three seconds to get ready.
When you’re finished with the recording, just pull the shade back down and tap the “Stop” button. The video will save and a small window will appear that lets you tweak the video if you’d like. Otherwise it will just save to your device.
And that’s pretty much all there is to it. You can copy the video to your computer or share it wherever you want.
The Official, Complicated Method: Capture Your Device’s Screen with ADB
If you want to go Google’s official route, you’ll need to have adb (from the Android SDK) set up on your computer. The good news is we already have a guide to help with that. And if you’re really serious about using adb, you can add it to your Windows System PATH to make it even easier.
Once you have that all set up, capturing your screen is easy.
First, fire up the command line for whatever operating system you’re using. If you’re using Windows and didn’t bother with adding adb to your system PATH, then you’ll need to navigate to the SDK installation folder, find adb in platform-tools, and Shift+Right Click, then choose “Open PowerShell Window Here” (it might also read “Open Command Prompt Here” depending on your version of Windows) to get adb to work correctly.
Now that you have that up and running, go ahead and connect your Android phone to your computer. If you haven’t already, make sure to enable Developer Options and USB Debugging on your phone.
With USB Debugging enabled, your phone should throw a prompt up asking if you want to allow USB Debugging from the connected computer. Tick the box and tap “OK.”
Back in the terminal, let’s first make sure everything is working okay—type the following into the window:
If everything looks good, you should see something like this:
If it reads “unauthorized” instead of “device,” then check your phone—USB Debugging access needs to be granted.
If everything looks good, you’ll use a simple tool to capture the screen:
adb shell screenrecord /sdcard/test.mp4
You can change the location and file name in the latter half of this command if you want. It’s also worth noting that this saves the file to your phone—not the computer.
This will record for roughly three minutes. If you’d like to end it before that, simply press Ctrl+C on your keyboard in the active terminal window. It’s also worth mentioning that this will not record any audio—only what’s happening on the screen.
Boom, your recording is finished. Now, you can just transfer the file from your phone to your computer using the file manager.