Pokémon Go's Smeargle has proven to be one of the game's most elusive creatures, but now there's a Detective Pikachu you can catch in the same way, too.

Smeargle itself has been conspicuously absent from the Gen 2 line-up for around two years, until the arrival of the game's Snapshot feature, and now taht feature's the only way to catch Detective hat Pikachu via a Pikachu photobomb for a limited time, too.

As a result, the steps for how to get Smeargle in Pokémon Go are among the most unique in the game - and requires a dose of luck before it can appear it will photobomb.

It's also been used to catch other creatures - such as an Ash Pikachu photobomb for April Fool's.

On this page:

How to get Detective hat Pikachu and Smeargle with Pokémon Go photobombs in brief

Catching Detective Pikachu or Smeargle centres around getting a photobomb from them in the Snapshot feature, and in brief, involves the following steps:

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  • Open the Snapshot mode with any Pokémon of your choosing
  • Take pictures of the Pokémon - turn off AR+ to make this step easier
  • Exit Snapshot mode, where you review the images you have just taken
  • At this point, Smeargle - or for a limited time Detective Pikachu - may appear in one of your photos
  • If Smeargle does appear, it will spawn in the wild on the map screen, to be caught like any other Pokémon
  • If Smeargle does not appear, repeat the above steps

That's essentially it - keep using the Snapshot feature until Smeargle appears. There is a little more nuance to it, though, which we'll explain now.

Note that Detective Pikachu is only available until 17th May at 9pm UK / 1pm PDT, so you'll have to be quick!

How to open the Pokémon Go Snapshot feature and get Smeargle

First, you need to take pictures with Pokémon Go's Snapshot feature. This allows you to place any of your caught Pokémon in the real world using your camera.

There are two ways to access this mode. One is in your item inventory - scroll down to the Camera, then select it, followed by a Pokémon of your choice. Alternatively, enter your Pokémon box and select the Camera icon in the upper right corner.

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There are two ways to open Pokémon Go Snapshot feature.

Your camera will then be active, and you'll presented with a view of in front of your phone with the Pokémon laid over the top. Position the Pokémon however you like in the world - it doesn't have to line up with anything - and snap away.

If you have AR+ on your phone, then turning that off will make it more likely Smeargle will appear.

When you've taken enough, exit the mode with the door icon in the upper left corner.

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To review your photos and see if Smeargle has appeared, press the Exit button in the corner of the screen.

This will present you with the photos you have just taken. It's at this stage that Smeargle can appear.

If it does, it'll appear in the bottom corner, as if photobombing the scene, and the game will pause to highlight its presence. Now when you back out of the mode, Smeargle will appear in the wild. Tap it, then catch it like any other creature.

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If Smeargle does not appear, then you must reopen the Snapshot mode and try again until it does.

To our knowledge the Pokémon you use and the amount of photos you take doesn't influence when Smeargle will appear, so take as many or as few photos at a time before backing out of the mode and cycling through your snaps.

How many photos does it take to get Smeargle in Pokémon Go?

Based on early impressions, the amount of attempts it takes to get Smeargle in Pokémon Go varies widely.

For us, it's ranged between 30 photos across 10 attempts for Smeargle to appear, the very first attempt for a lucky member of the Eurogamer team, and after hundreds of photos taken, not a single appearance for another.

This appears to line up with a lot of other players' experiences too. The key is to simply keep trying - and if Smeargle isn't showing up, take a break and try again later.

Remember since you can catch more than one Smeargle, there's no rush at all. If it takes took long, considering using the Snapshot mode casually until Smeargle appears. It will show eventually!

Other things you should know about Smeargle in Pokémon Go

There are a few other non-essential things to know about getting Smeargle in Pokémon Go, too:

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  • You can catch a maximum of one Smeargle per day, resetting at midnight local time.
  • Smeargle will copy the moveset of the creature used in the photo. So if you want it to learn specific moves, then choose a specific Pokémon with those moves equipped.
  • There are a couple of caveats to move learning - some cannot be learnt (such as Ditto's Transform) and a second Charged move will not be carried over (thanks, Sabatori from reddit).
  • Once Smeargle appears, it'll immediately appear in the wild. If you are in transit, this could be a worry - we caught ours on a train but we had to quickly tap Smeargle before it disappeared from view, so keep this in mind.
  • Smeargle will stay in the wild for an entire hour, so don't worry about having to catch it right away (thanks facingmyselfie on reddit for testing this).
  • Yes, it's possible Smeargle can appear in a photo of Smeargle (Thanks Leon_119 on reddit for confirming!)
  • If the Smeargle you caught looks bugged and has two moves named Charged Beam, then simply restart your app.
  • The official Smeargle Pokédex entry reads as follows: "Smeargle marks the boundaries of its territory using a body fluid that leaks out from the tip of its tail. Over 5,000 different marks left by this Pokémon have been found."

How Pokémon Go's April Fool's photobomb feature with Ash Pikachu worked

Developer Niantic did something different for April Fool's 2019 - whereas the year before offered sprites from the main games as part of the Pokédex, this year makes use of the recently-added Snapshot feature with more photobombing participants.

Previously the domain for Smeragle, for April 1st only you can be photobombed by two possible other characters - Ash Pikachu and Ash himself.

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Ash Pikachu will appear a maximum of five times over the course of the day.

Here's how it worked:

  • Getting either to appear works the same as Smeragle - take plenty of pictures and when you review the snapshots, there's a chance they will appear over the photo. Remember to turn off AR+ mode to make this process much easier.
  • While Smeragle is incredibly rare, Ash Pikachu is quite common, but will only appear up to five times.
  • If Ash Pikachu appears, like Smeragle it will then appear in the wild next to your location, ready to be caught. Only one will appear at once, however, so make sure you catch it before reopening Snapshot mode.
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Remember Ash Pikachu will appear in the wild once it photobombs - but only one at a time!
  • It's possible for Ash Pikachu to be shiny, making it one of the more rare encounters in the game. Fingers crossed it'll appear in the five visits to your game!
  • As well as Ash Pikachu, Ash himself will appear make an appearance. However, due to a pulled iOS update to the game, there's a chance Ash will only feature for Android users, according to reddit.
  • Ash has a variety of poses which appear at random. See Soberranger's imgur gallery to see them all!

That's about it - it's assumed Ash Pikachu and Ash will only appear on April 1st, so make sure you try it out while you can. There is, the possibility April 2nd will give you another opportunity, so be sure to try again.

If you miss out though, then don't worry - Ash Pikachu has appeared in previous events and will almost certainly do so again, and the likelihood of you encountering a shiny version is incredibly rare anyway.

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About the author

Matthew Reynolds

Matthew Reynolds

Guides Editor

Matthew edits guides and other helpful things at Eurogamer.net. When not doing that, he's out and about playing Pokémon Go or continuing to amass his amiibo collection.

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