Snapchat Covert Screen Capture for Android Revealed

Capture of a SnapChat image.
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At a family gathering today, a relative introduced me to SnapChat, and showed me how it only temporarily stores images, then deletes them when you're finished looking at them.

For those who don't know SnapChat is a "temporary" image service.  The concept is simple - images are sent, viewed, and destroyed within 10 seconds.  If a user attempts to take a screenshot of the image, the sender is sent a notification.  I tested the "screenshot detection" and sure enough...if you take a screenshot with your Android phone it really does send a notification!

It was recently revealed that there is a method of capturing SnapChat images for iOS without the sender knowing by accessing the files directly on the device's storage drive.  But this only works on iPhone or iPod Touch.

Always up for a challenge, I decided to see if I could bypass SnapChat's "temporary" storage and save a permanent copy of photos I receive.

After performing some analysis of how SnapChat works, today I'm going to reveal how to permanently save incoming SnapChat photos on any Android phone.

Android phones have a feature called "USB Debugging" which is commonly only used by tech savvy users or developers.  This feature allows you to connect your Android phone to your computer and monitor its activities using the Android SDK.

One of the features of the Android SDK is, you guessed it, a screen capture utility.

By simply following these instructions from you can capture the current screen without alerting the SnapChat app.  Simply time clicking the "Refresh" button just right and you'll be able to capture that "secret" photo.

Note that this is not a flaw in the SnapChat app - this is the intentional design of the Android operating system.

This is a "high tech" method of defeating SnapChat.  A "low tech" undetectable method would be to simply take a picture of you phone's screen using a camera from another device.

So what should users take away from this? A simple security lesson - if you don't want someone to be able to save something you send them, and don't want to risk that knowledge or picture from being posted publicly, then don't send it to anyone in the first place.


  1. Ehhh I want something Directly From my Android Phone

  2. Screenshots on a rooted phone using a 3rd party app may be possible. I wanted see if I could do this on a stock phone with no rooting.

  3. Actually, screenshots from a rooted phone do not work. Somehow the app still knows if you've used a 3rd party app to screenshot it with and notifies the other person that you've screenshotted their snap.

  4. Interesting! Thanks for sharing.

  5. I just found a method if your android phone is rooted. No hooking to a pc. I tested on Android 4.2.2. You'll need Titanium Backup or another app with app data backup/wiping. First tap the image so that it loads. Turn the data off. Backup the app data with titanium. View the image and take a screen shot. Then wipe the app data and restore the previous backup.Turn data on. I logged back into my account after enabling data and it shows that I never viewed the snap giving me the chance to view it again. I viewed again as normal. I logged out and into I logged into the account I sent it from and it shows the snap as read but no screenshot.

    1. Are you sure all of that is necessary? I simply blocked Snapchat from using data (using Avast! Firewall) while I took the screenshot. Then when I next used the app (with data re-enabled), it still thought I'd not seen it before and no screenshot notification sent. What I'm saying is I don't think the Titanium Backup data backup/restore step is actually necessary. At least it wasn't for me...

  6. Joe - GREAT post! Thanks for sharing!

  7. need a developer to make something like phantom for iphone........come on guys!! lol