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How to catch Smeargle in Pokémon Go

Get your camera ready and use our guide to catch Smeargle in Pokémon Go

Niantic continues to release new Pokémon for players to catch in Pokémon Go, and currently, the mobile version of the popular RPG monster catching series is already up to the fourth generation of games. Oddly, that doesn’t mean that all monsters from previous generations are available in the game. One such example is the unique and artistic Smeargle.

Smeargle originally made its debut in the second generation fo games — Pokémon Gold, Silver, and Crystal. All other Pokémon from Smeargle’s generation are already available or have been available at some point in Pokémon Go, including the various Legendary Pokémon from that trio of games.

How to catch Smeargle in Pokémon Go

You can’t encounter Smeargle in the overworld in the traditional way that you would most other Pokémon. Instead, you need to complete certain steps to get Smeargle to show up in your game.

What makes things even harder is that there is a lot of luck involved in getting Smeargle to appear in the first place. It can be very hard to get this to actually happen. Thankfully, that’s where we come in. We’ve got the step by step guide (with pictures) on how to catch Smeargle in Pokémon Go.

First, open up Pokémon Go on your mobile device of choice. Once you have made it to the main overworld where you see your character and all of the wild Pokémon around you, open up the main menu using the Pokeball button at the bottom of the screen. From here, select the “Pokémon” tab.

This tab houses all of the Pokémon that you currently own in the game, barring any you may have transferred to the Let’s Go games or to the Professor for candy. Select one of your Pokémon, preferably one with a move list that you like. While the Pokémon you pick here doesn’t affect your chances of finding Smeargle, it will dictate the move list your Smeagle will have.

how to catch smeargle in Pokémon go

Once you’ve selected your Pokémon and have headed to their page, select the little camera icon in the upper right corner of the screen. This will take you to the Snapshot feature where you can take pictures of the Pokémon.

When you are ready and have your Pokémon in Snapshot mode, simply take up to 10 pictures in a row. When you are done taking pictures of your selected Pokémon, you will then want to leave Snapshot using the button in the upper left corner.

This will then take you to the results screen. It might take a moment or two for all of the pictures to show up. Once there, you can scroll left and right to look at all of the pictures you took. The goal here is to find a picture where Smeargle has photobombed it.

Having Smeargle photobomb one of your pictures in Snapshot mode is the only way to get the Pokémon to appear for you in the game. Thankfully, you don’t need the AR+ mode on your phone to do this. Unfortunately, there is one problem with getting Smeargle to photobomb one of your pictures in Pokémon Go. That problem is that finding Smeargle in your photos is totally tied to chance.

You could potentially take 500 photos with your Pokémon and still not have Smeargle photobomb one of your pictures. It is a relatively rare occurrence so you may need some patience to make it happen. Lucky for us, we found our first Smeargle on our seventh photo.

Once you’ve found it, exit out of Snapshot to the main overworld and Smeargle will appear there. You can then select it and catch it. Note that it can run away, so be sure to bring along some berries and the best Pokeballs that you have.

Smeargle move list and bugs in Pokémon Go

how to catch smeargle in Pokémon go

Smeargle doesn’t have the move Sketch in Pokémon Go. Instead, its moves are based on the Pokémon it took a picture with. If the Pokémon you take pictures of has Tackle and Quick Attack, Smeargle will have Tackle and Quick Attack when you catch it. This does mean that you will need to carefully think about which moves you want the Pokémon to have.

Additionally, there are some glitches users are reporting that are worth mentioning. If the Smeargle you catch has different moves than it’s supposed to, exit and restart the game and it should be fixed.

If you happen to have a Smeargle photobomb picture but it doesn’t spawn in the overworld, you may also need to exit and restart the game. Some users are even reporting having to wait a few minutes for it to appear. If you’re looking to catch a second Smeargle or more, we recommend waiting a few hours or until the next day as it does seem to take a long time to have another one appear otherwise.

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Cody Perez
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Cody is that stereotypical nerdy otaku guy. He loves everything Japanese from niche visual novels like 999 and Kara no Shoujo…
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