By now it’s pretty common knowledge that you can grab a screenshot from any iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch simply by pressing the home and sleep/wake buttons simultaneously, saving a PNG image of whatever is on the current screen to your on-device photo library. While this works well enough in most cases, sometimes the necessary finger gymnastic can make it a bit tricky to capture more complicated screenshots, such as when playing a game or trying to capture a “peek” screen from a 3D Touch gesture.

Capturing iOS and tvOS screenshots using your Mac

Fortunately, if you find yourself wanting to grab those hard-to-capture screen moments, there’s another option — provided you’re a Mac user. To facilitate screen captures by iOS developers, Apple’s Xcode development tool incorporates the ability to grab whatever is on your iOS device’s screen directly over a USB connection. Despite it being a development tool, you don’t need to be a registered developer to use Xcode; it’s available from the Mac App Store, although it’s a hefty download. Once you’ve installed it, you can perform screen captures by opening it up and selecting Devices from the Window menu. You should see any connected iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch devices shown in the top-left corner; select the device you want to capture a screenshot from, and you’ll see a “Take Screenshot” button right below the device information. Clicking this will save a PNG file to your Desktop folder of whatever is currently displayed on the device’s screen.

This method can also be used to capture screenshots from an Apple TV, which otherwise has no built-in screenshot capabilities at all. You’ll need to supply your own USB-C to USB-A cable to connect it to your computer, but once you’ve done so, the Apple TV will appear as a device in the Xcode Devices panel in the same way as an iOS device, and you can capture screenshots using the same “Take Screenshot” button.


Jesse Hollington was a Senior Editor at iLounge. He's written about Apple technology for nearly a decade and had been covering the industry since the early days of iLounge. In his role at iLounge, he provided daily news coverage, wrote and edited features and reviews, and was responsible for the overall quality of the site's content.