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How to take an Android Wear screenshot - Android customization

Google has hidden the tool to take an Android Wear screenshot, join us to see how it's done - Android customization
April 14, 2016

(Why are Android Wear screenshots so difficult?)

If you’ve been following along with us, you know we’ve been playing with Android Wear on our Android customization series, and lovin’ it. The wearable OS has been a treat on our smartwatch, but, by default, it really is a treat more than a tool. I hope we can help change that a little.

Special note: This is a fairly basic tutorial for new Android Wear users, the ability to take a screenshot is super simple, once you know where to look. That said, the process of storing the photos is not so easy, come see our solution.

Related reading:
Best Android Wear watch faces
Best apps for Android Wear
Use your Android Wear device as a camera remote

Before we begin

You will require a fairly modern Android phone or tablet, as well as an Android Wear powered device to follow along today. Aside from having the two devices connected, there is nothing more that you’ll need, so let’s get started.

How to take an Android Wear screenshot

Let’s start with the easy stuff, taking the screenshot. Despite your first instinct, taking a screenshot on an Android Wear device is not triggered on the device itself, instead you’ll need your connected phone or tablet to do the work.

Android Wear screenshot 1

Open the Android Wear app on your Android device.

Tap the three-dots menu button in the top right of the display.

Select Take wearable screenshot.

Was the option not available for you?

If you do not see the option in the dropdown list, first make sure that your watch is actually connected to your phone, if that does not do it, you will need to enable Developer mode on your device.

Tada! Open menu, tap button, how easy is that – but what happens next?

On your Android device, a normal screenshot is saved into a screenshots folder in the Pictures folder on your device, unfortunately, and often frustratingly, Android Wear does not do the same.

Android Wear screenshot 2

After a few moments you will see a notification telling you that your Android Wear screenshot has been captured, as the image is not automatically saved, you’ll need to tap the notification to take the next step.

Tapping the notification opens the Share menu, giving you options on how to share the image, there is no ‘save to file’ option, and the sad truth is that most apps that provide a save to file option, like ES File Explorer, won’t work. You truly have to share the image to save it.

What to do? I have tried a few things – it is easy enough to share over Bluetooth to save the file to my PC, but that’s usually not ideal and certainly not simple. Share to Google Photos works fairly well, but do I really want hundreds of Android Wear screenshots cluttering my files like that? Not really.

For now, I have been using a cloud storage solution to save the files. On this device, Box is my goto for work files anyhow, so I simply Share with Box.

Android Wear screenshot 3

The Android Wear screenshot will always try to save with the file name ‘screen.png’ which is fine for a single shot. If you are trying to save more than one shot, you’ll have to rename the file either at the saved source or through the share tool to prevent overwriting the previous.

Truth is, Google has not made saving a screenshot from your Android Wear device very practical, but it can still be done.

What’s next

Don’t forget to utilize previous Android customization projects to help make saving a screenshot a little easier. We chose Box and Google Photos previously so that the file would be available across all of our devices, you could opt for a Share method that has an attached IF by IFTTT channel to control specifically where the files go.

For those truly inclined, why not use Tasker to watch for new files and notifications like this, then perform actions or edit the file name automatically to better organize storage. There is no perfect solution out there today, we are hoping Google changes that soon.

Android Wear screenshot 5

Next week

Have you had enough of us messing with Android Wear on our Android customization series? I hope not, we’ll keep the ball rolling next week with another rather basic process for the beginners.

Any suggestions on better handling Android Wear screenshots?

More Android customization projects: