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Capture Screenshots in Windows Media Player

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009 by | Filed Under: Multimedia

If you’ve ever tried to grab a screen shot of a video playing in your Windows Media Player, you’ve probably run across the same problem that affects many users: you don’t get a frame of video at all; you only get a black square when you paste what you thought you captured into your photo software.

There are commercial software packages available that will allow you to get the frame of video you’re looking for, but there are a couple of easy hacks in Media Player that will accomplish the same thing, at no cost at all. Why spend money on software when a couple of tweaks to your settings will accomplish your objective for nothing?

There are actually a couple of different ways to do this: I’ll explain both. You can choose either one.

Option 1: Overlays

Inside Windows Media Player, click Tools and then Options.

Choose the “performance” tab.


Click “Advanced” at the bottom of the tab (near “Video Acceleration.”)

In this new window that opens up, remove the checkmark next to “Use Overlays.”


Done! That’s all you have to do.

Pressing the “print screen” key (for your entire desktop) or alt-“print screen” (for just the contents of the Media Player window) will now include the video frame you expect to see.

Option 2: Disable Video Acceleration

Instead of removing “overlays,” the same thing can be accomplished by removing video acceleration.

The steps are very similar to those for removing overlays:

In Windows Media Player, click “Tools” and then “Options.”


Select “performance” (tab at the top).

Under “Video Acceleration” (bottom) you’ll find a slider. It’s probably all the way to the right (at “Full.”) Slide it all the way to the left (to “none.”)

You’re done! You can now capture still frames of video from Windows Media Player — or screen shots of your entire desktop with the video in the player like you expect!

~Unnikrishnan K.

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