Android Emulator Tips & Tricks

What brings me here?

When I do Android stuff, my mind switches to survival mode; I try to make the best of what I have. Assuming you do as well, I present to you some of the tricks I use to make my sure demise a bit less terrible.


  1. Native Screenshots on Android Emulator
  2. Shaking the Emulator
  3. Swiping with 2 fingers

Equipped with these tricks, you may now go on hating on Android as you were, with double the fingers and a good shake.

Trigger Native Screenshots on AVD

This will help you trigger a native screen capture event on a device that you don’t have physical access to (Virtual devices/ emulators).

Straightforward way

Support: Up to API 29


  1. Hold down the power button on the emulator’s sidebar
  2. Click on the Screenshot icon


Using ADB

This way is quite flexible; it simulates a key press on the device’s GPIO buttons (Power, volume…etc).
Support: All API versions


  1. Configure the adb shell to run with root privileges
adb root
  1. Determine your device id:
adb shell getevent

On the emulator click on any of the volume buttons, and observe the terminal. You should see output similar to this:

/dev/input/event12: 0001 0072 00000001

This makes your device id: /dev/input/event12.

  1. Start the adb shell
adb shell
  1. Copy this script and make sure to substitute the device id with yours.
cat > /data/local/tmp/ <<EOF
echo ‘volume key: down’
sendevent /dev/input/event12 1 114 1
echo ‘power key: down’
sendevent /dev/input/event12 1 116 1
sendevent /dev/input/event12 0 0 0
sleep 1
echo ‘volume key: up’
sendevent /dev/input/event12 1 114 0
echo ‘power key: up’
sendevent /dev/input/event12 1 116 0
sendevent /dev/input/event12 0 0 0

Paste the script in your adb shell (This script holds down the power and volume-down buttons for one second, then releases them.)

  1. Take Screenshots
sh /data/local/tmp/

Shaking the emulator

This one is simple (android simple that is). All you have to do is:

  1. Go to emulator settings (the 3 dots thingy)
  2. Virtual Sensors
  3. Device Pose
  4. Select Move
  5. Have fun with any of the sliders

Swiping with 2 fingers

Often we like to swipe with 2 fingers on an emulator. I was writing a script for it. But I found out it’s natively (and horribly) supported now. I’ve recorded a video showing the required keystrokes (yep they’re quite a few) and I’ll also list them here:

  1. Hold ⇧ Shift
  2. Hold ⌘ Command
  3. Slightly move your mouse cursor so that you have 2 aligned-circles representing 2 fingers
  4. Now Right-Click with your mouse and swipe into the required direction.

That’s right 4 convoluted steps and they require a mouse (the trackpad won’t work). That’s what you get when working with Android ¯\(ツ)