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How to Take DVD/Video Screenshots on Windows

Taking screenshots of DVD, MPEG, AVI, and other video on Windows machines requires a couple of extra steps. A normal screenshot is easy enough to capture by pressing the “Print Screen” button on your keyboard.

To capture a screenshot of video display, however, you need to disable hardware acceleration to make it work. To do this on Windows machines, go to your Desktop properties and click on the Settings tab. Click on the Advanced button and then on the Troubleshooting tab. Slide the Hardware Acceleration to “None” and then capture and process your screenshot as normal. Once you are finished taking your screenshot, don’t forget to switch your Hardware acceleration back to its original settings (e.g., “Full”).

Here is a quick step-by-step guide for capturing video screenshots:

  1. Desktop > Properties > Settings > Advanced > Troubleshoot > Hardware acceleration: None
  2. Capture screenshot(s) via Print-Screen key and process as desired
  3. Return Hardware acceleration back to previous settings
[ Windows Troubleshoot Settings ]

Why is this necessary? It has to do with the way in which Windows Hardware Acceleration works. When Hardware Acceleration is set to “Full”, video data is rendered by the graphics card and is not available to the screen buffer for capture. Conversely, when Hardware Acceleration is disabled (i.e., set to “none”), video data is rendered before graphical processing and thus exists in the screen buffer during screen capture. Then again, I’m no expert in video processing, so feel free to chime in with more information. :)

Jeff Starr
About the Author Jeff Starr = Web Developer. Book Author. Secretly Important.
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17 responses
  1. I personally chuckled to myself when I was younger, and was attempting to take a screen shot of a video I was playing in VLC media player. In fact, it happened to be an episode of Family Guy.

    Anyway, I paused the video and hit the print screen button, opened good old MS Paint and hit paste – whilst simultaneously resuming video playback in VLC media player.

    Needless to say I was quite surprised, and amused, when my screenshot was playing in MS Paint. I then proceeded to exercise my immaturity by drawing genitalia on the playing video and giggled to myself when ever it appeared near someone’s face.

    Good times.

  2. I’ve found that FRAPS is a nice program to do the screenshot job. Have a look.

  3. Great tip thanks

  4. How does this work in Windows 7?

  5. Jeff Starr

    Hey Brandon,

    Not sure.. I switched to mac last year ;)

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