How to Capture a Screenshot From a DVD

How to Capture a Screenshot From a DVD

On some Windows systems, it's easier to fight the Huns than to capture a screenshot from your DVD.

On some Windows systems, it
can almost be easier to fight the
Huns than it is to capture a
screenshot from your DVD.

Today I had a customer who wanted to capture screenshots from a DVD he owns. The reason: Slides are presented on this DVD, and he wanted to be able to print a copy.

Should be simple, right?

Not necessarily. On some Windows computers it IS easy, but on some other systems it’s not easy at all.

In fact, I had tried this particular task on my own computer a couple of years ago, reached the limits of my personal patience at the time, and left it for some other day.

Today, as it turns out.  

Now it’s easy enough to do a screen capture in Windows. All you have to do is press the “Print Screen” key, usually located either third from the right in the top row of keys, or directly below that position.

And if you do it on any normal page, you’ll be given an image of the computer’s entire screen, that you can then Paste wherever you want to (in a graphics program, for example.) Voila.

But a DVD-playing program isn’t quite a normal page.

On many systems, due to an “overlay” method of presenting the video, you won’t get the desired results. All you’ll get is some real weirdness instead. And that was the problem I ran into today.

If this happens on your system, here’s how to get around it.

1) First, you can get rid of your graphic hardware acceleration and use of overlays. (The following instructions are for XP. Vista and Windows 7, assuming they have this issue, will probably be a bit different.)

You can start by right-clicking on an open space on your desktop and choosing Properties, Settings, Advanced, Troubleshoot. Then move the slider for Hardware acceleration from Full down to None.

In Windows Media Player (Version 10), you can click Tools, Options, Performance, and then adjust the similar slider you see there to allow for no acceleration. Then if you click the Advanced button, you’ll find that there are not one but two different places where you can clear a check box to avoid use of overlays.

If some combinations of those settings does the trick, then you’re good to go. But it simply didn’t work in this case.

2) The thing that got it working for me was the use of a different media player aside from the standard Windows one: Media Player Classic. This is available (for free) from SourceForge in its new Home Cinema edition, which you can download from

Once you’ve installed Media Player Classic and started the program, you can open and play your DVD by choosing File, Open Disc, and clicking on the DVD name to the right of the Open Disc option.

To capture an entire screenshot, first maximize the video image to full screen by double-clicking anywhere on it. As it plays, you can bring up controls that will enable you to pause the video simply by moving the mouse cursor toward the bottom of the screen.

If you pause the video and then move the mouse cursor off to the upper right of the screen and wait a few seconds, all of the controls will go away, enabling to you to take a good screen shot of nothing but the content you want to capture. To do this, press that Print Screen key we talked about earlier.

Now that you’ve captured your screen image, you’ll need some place to put it where you can print it from. Double-click the screen to reduce the player back to a partial-screen size.

After trying a couple of free graphics programs, I recommend Paint.NET for this purpose. You can download this program (again, totally free) from

Once you’ve downloaded, installed and opened Paint.NET, all you have to do is press Control-Alt-V to paste your captured screen image into the program. Or, if you prefer to use the menus, choose Edit, then Paste in to New Image.

From there, it’s easy to print your screen capture as a full-page print, and then head back to Media Player Classic to look for the next screenshot you want to catch.

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