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How to Screenshot: Tips for iPhone & iPad

Jonathan Wylie is a writer, educator and podcaster. You can hear the audio version of this article, and others, on the Unpacking iOS podcast


Why Take Screenshots on iOS?

Screenshots are useful for all kinds of things. Want to share a snapshot of your favorite app? Take a screenshot. Got a new high score that you need to brag about? Take a screenshot. Need to create a step-by-step tutorial? Take a whole bunch of screenshots! The list of reasons go on and on and only serve to prove how useful it is to know how to take screenshot on iOS. So, without further delay, here's what you need to know in order to do it right.

How to Take a Screenshot on iPhone or iPad

Taking a screenshot is easier than you might think, but it varies depending on what device you have. If you are using an iOS device without a home button (e.g. iPhone X, XS, XR, or an iPad Pro 2018 or later), then all you have to do is simultaneously press and then release the power button and volume up button. If you are using an iOS device that does have a home button, simultaneously press and then release the home button and the power button.

If you hold the buttons on for too long, your device will shutdown and restart, so make sure you only hold them long enough to take your screenshot. It is literally just a quick press, then release. The screenshot will appear as a thumbnail in the bottom left-hand corner of your screen and hover there for a few seconds. The screenshot will also automatically be saved to the Photos app where you can view it in your Camera Roll or in an album called Screenshots.

Annotate Screenshots on iPhone or iPad

When you capture your screenshot, and you see that thumbnail in the bottom left-hand corner of your screen, you can tap on it to open the annotation editor. This feature lets you crop and markup your iPhone or iPad screenshot. There are a number of tools available to help you with that. They include:

  • Drawing Tools - The pen, highlighter, and pencil can be used to add ink annotations on a screenshot. They can be customized by tapping on them to change the transparency or stroke width.
  • Eraser - This is used for removing annotations created with the drawing tools. It removes the entire annotation, as opposed to part of one.
  • Lasso - Use the lasso to draw around any annotation to select it. Once selected, you can move the annotation to another part of the screen.
  • Text Tool - You can add text to your screenshot by tapping the plus sign in the bottom right-hand corner and selecting Text from the menu. Double tap the text box to edit it. Tap the double A icon in the bottom right-hand corner to adjust the font, font size, and alignment.
  • Signature - Add your name by tapping the plus sign in the bottom right-hand corner and selecting Signature. Then sign your name on the screen to record a signature and tap Done to insert it. Your signature is now saved and can be added to any additional screenshots from the same menu.
  • Magnifier - Make small details stand out by adding an onscreen loupe to focus the attention of the viewer. Simply tap the plus sign in the bottom right-hand corner and select Magnifier to add your loupe. There are two dots on the Magnifier. Slide the green dot to increase the magnification. Slide the blue dot to increase the size of the magnified area. You can change the the thickness of the loupe's border by tapping the square and circle in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen.
  • Shapes - Squares, rectangles, speech bubbles and arrows can also be added by tapping the plus sign in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. Each shape can be resized by dragging on the blue dots, and customized by tapping the square and circle icon.
  • Colors - You can choose a color for any of the drawing tools by selecting a tool and then tapping the color circle. Tapping on the rainbow circle will give you additional color options. You can also choose colors for text, signatures, magnifier loupes, and shapes.

The iOS Annotation Toolbar


More Annotation Options for iOS

Annotations are easier to do with an Apple Pencil, however, you can annotate with your fingers or a third-party stylus if you prefer. Here are some more things that make annotations easier on iOS screenshots.

  • Undo/Redo - Look for the undo and redo arrows to fix mistakes or save your sanity as you get used to using the annotation tools.
  • Crop - You can change the size of a screenshot by dragging in from a corner or from a straight edge to crop the image.
  • Zoom - Pinch in and out with two fingers to zoom in on a specific part of your screenshot while keeping the same same aspect ratio.
  • Share - You can print your screenshot, save it to cloud storage services, or share it via email, AirDrop or social media by tapping the Share arrow and selecting the option you need.

When you are finished, tap Done in the top left-hand corner of the screen. From here, you can choose to delete the screenshot or save it to the Photos app.

Capture, annotate, and save a screenshot on an iPhone

Capture, annotate, and save a screenshot on an iPhone

7 Top Tips for Screenshots on iPhone & iPad

Once you've mastered the basics of taking and annotating a screenshot, hone your skills even more with these top tips for iPhone and iPad.

  1. After you have taken your screenshot you can banish the small thumbnail in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen with a quick swipe to the left.
  2. Alternatively, try pressing and holding on the thumbnail image to summon the share menu for quick sharing options.
  3. iPad users can use keyboard shortcuts to capture screenshots when they use a Smart Keyboard or a Bluetooth keyboard. Cmd+Shift+3 will take a screenshot while Cmd+Shift+4 goes one step further to take a screenshot and automatically open it in the annotation editor.
  4. iPad users can also use drag and drop to move their screenshot to a new app. Simply capture your screenshot, then drag the small thumbnail image over the icon of an app that allows you to add images, (e.g. Notes). Hold the thumbnail over the app until it opens, and then drop the image into the app.
  5. Capture multiple screenshots at once by pressing and releasing the buttons in quick succession. Your screenshots will stack up at the bottom of your screen and you can edit all of them at once by tapping on the stack to open them and swiping between the ones you want to annotate.
  6. You can cut, copy, delete or duplicate any ink annotation by selecting it with the lasso and then tapping on the annotation. This is especially useful for consistency when working with multiple screenshots.
  7. You can configure Assistive Touch to take screenshots so you don't ever need to mess with buttons on your device. Learn how to do it here.

Video: iPad Screenshot Tips in Action!

Adding the Finishing Touches

Pleased with your efforts so far? You should be! Those are some mighty nice screenshots you have taken. If you plan to use them as part of a tutorial or want a more professional look, try an app like Screenshot Maker Pro. This app will put a device frame around your screenshot so that it looks like it is embedded inside of an iPhone or an iPad.

Screenshot Maker Pro is a free to app to download from the App Store, but you are limited to five image exports (saving to the Camera Roll, Dropbox, Email, etc.), unless you pay the for one of the two in-app purchases that are required to unlock more exports. However, if you are after a more professional look, it is probably well worth it!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on March 06, 2015:

Alas it looks like it is no more. Skitch is great but if you need an alternative try Screenshot Editor instead :)

Nicolas B. on March 06, 2015:

This is nice.

But there is no BugShot in the App Store !