How to grab a freeze-frame from a video

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How to grab a freeze-frame from a video

Thc008 asked the Photo Editing forum about saving a video frame as a single photo.

Before I tell you how to do this, allow me to give you some caveats and advice:

First, none of the techniques I describe below are likely to work with protected videos, such as Blu-ray discs.

Second, grabbed frames seldom look as good as independently-photographed still photos. Video stills, especially of fast-moving action, contain a great deal of motion blur--which the brain doesn't see when the frames speed by at 24 or 60 frames per second. They also tend to have lower resolutions.

And finally, for best results, don't try to grab a frame while the video is playing. Pause the video, find the right frame, and snap the picture.

[Email your tech questions to or post them on the PCW Answer Line forum.]

You can easily grab a frame by capturing the image on the screen and saving it. If you're using Vista, Windows 7, or 8, use the Snipping Tool:

Play the video using iTunes, Windows Media Player, or whatever video player you prefer. Pause where you want the picture.

Click Start (in Windows 8, just go to the Start screen), type snip, and select Snipping Tool. Use the New pull-down menu to control what part of the screen you wish to grab.

The image will come up in the Snipping Tool editor, from where you can easily save it.

Most XP users don't have the Snipping Tool, but you can also press your keyboard's PRINT SCREEN key to capture the entire screen in the clipboard. Then you can paste it into Paint or any other image editor, crop out the parts you don't want, and save it.

One problem with grabbing the screen: You're not getting the frame's original resolution, so it probably won't look its best.

You will get the proper resolution with the VideoPad Video Editor, easily the best free video-editing program I've tried. It's officially a $30 program, but if you don't pay for it, you're allowed to keep using it with a few minor features missing.

One warning: Be careful when you install this program; it will ask if you want to install other programs as well, and the default is Yes. Your answer should probably be No.

Once installed, VideoPad grabs a frame when you press F11, and saves it to your Pictures folder. You can change that location by selecting Tools>Options and clicking the Media Files tab.

In the original forum discussion, LiveBrianD also recommended the VLC media player.

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