Smeargle Photobomb Banner

As your collection of creatures grows in Pokémon GO, you may start to notice some conspicuous holes in your Pokédex. A select few of these missing entries won’t turn up no matter how far you walk, how many eggs you hatch or how many research tasks you complete. Smeargle is one such Pokémon, and in this guide, we’ll show you how to use the game’s GO Snapshot mode to easily obtain this otherwise elusive Pokémon.

How can I get a Smeargle in Pokémon GO?

Smeargle (Pokédex #235), was originally introduced to the handheld games in the Game Boy Color classics Pokémon Gold and Pokémon Silver. However, it remained a conspicuous hole in Pokémon GO collections until February 2019 – a full two years after the majority of its Johto region brothers and sisters were added to the game.

It was clear that Niantic had something special in mind for Smeargle’s release – and Smeargle can now be caught using the GO Snapshot mode. It’s a rather simple process, so long as you know it’s there:

  • There is a random chance that you will see a photobombing Smeargle when you come to review the photos you have taken in Go Snapshot mode
  • Once you fully back out of the mode after seeing the photobomb, a Smeargle will spawn next to you on the map – tap on it to catch it as usual

Step-by-step guide to catching Smeargle in Pokémon Go

Camera Location In Pokemon Screen

1. Navigate to the ‘Pokémon’ option in the main menu and choose a monster you want to take a snapshot with - click the camera icon in the top right as shown above

AR Mode Example

2. Take a photo of your Pokémon. When you are finished, click the door icon in the top left

Review Photos Smeargle Photobomb

3. Review the photos you have taken – if you have a surprise Smeargle in your shot, go to step 4. If not, repeat steps 1 and 2 again. Be patient – the Smeargle above appeared after 5 shooting sessions, but yours may appear more quickly – or a lot more slowly – than this

Smeargle Spawn On Map

4. Exit the photo app – your Smeargle will spawn close by. Catch it as usual!

Shiny Smeargle, movesets and other Smeargle/GO Snapshot facts

Smeargle Copied Moveset From Pikachu
  • You can only encounter one Smeargle per day
  • The Smeargle you catch will have the same moveset as the Pokémon it photobombs – leaving it free to learn most moves in the game (see above)
  • Shiny Smeargle has not currently been announced by Niantic, and there were no reported sightings by players at the time of publication
  • It is worth noting that on Google ARCore compatible phones, GO Snapshot mode has a much more exciting AR+ mode to play around in, allowing you to place and move around Pokémon for all kinds of fun, dynamic shots. Older or less capable phones (such as that used for the screenshots on this page) are stuck with Pokémon at a fixed distance, facing towards the camera.

Other photobombing Pokémon to catch in GO Snapshot mode

Party Hat Pikachu Photobomb

Since the introduction of the GO Snapshot feature to Pokémon GO, Niantic has regularly featured other photobombing Pokémon on limited time release. To date, these have exclusively been Pikachu variants celebrating various dates and anniversaries – expect this list to grow.

Party Hat Pikachu

  • Available: June 28th to July 6th 2019
  • These adorable Pikachu pals (see screenshot above) were unleashed in order to celebrate the three year anniversary of Pokémon GO’s release
  • (Coincidentally, this was also the 35-month anniversary of explaining calmly that, yes, a lot of people still play Pokémon GO and if you just went back to it you’d see that it has evolved a lot actually)

Detective Hat Pikachu

  • Available: May 7th to 17th 2019
  • One of a number of events to tie in with the release of Pokémon Detective Pikachu
  • In their press releases, Niantic was at pains to stress that this was “Pikachu in a detective hat”, scuttling your dreams of containing the essence of Ryan Reynolds in an electronic pocket prison

Ash Hat Pikachu

  • Available: April 1st and 2nd 2019
  • In addition to featuring a Pikachu with an Ash Ketchum hat, the anime protagonist himself could turn up in your photos
  • This event seems to have been an April Fools prank – Niantic never formally announced it had happened