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How to take screenshots in Mac OS X’s DVD Player application

How to take screenshots in Mac OS X\'s DVD Player application

Due to a limitation which prevents screenshots from being taken while DVD Player is running, grabbing frames from movies is a hassle. With a little trickery (or a different video player), that problem can be solved.

You’ve probably seen the error before: “Screen grabs are unavailable during DVD playback. Please quit DVD Player first.” Ugh… what an inconvenience. But while attempts to take a screenshot via normal methods (Command+Shift+3, for example) produce this stern warning, there is a way to get around it.

  1. If you haven’t already done so, launch DVD Player to play your movie. Go to the exact frame you want to capture and then pause playback.
  2. Open Terminal (Applications > Utilities) and copy & paste the following command:
  3. screencapture -i ~/Desktop/DVDGrab.png

  4. When you hit Enter/Return on your keyboard, the mouse cursor will change from an arrow to crosshairs. Press Command+Tab to switch back to DVD Player without making any clicks.
  5. Press the spacebar and hover over the DVD Player window. The entire frame should be highlighted, so all that’s left to do is click on it.

A new image file should instantly show up on your Desktop. The only downside to this approach is that you’ll need to open your screen grab in Preview to crop off the top and bottom parts of the window. If you’d like to avoid all of this trouble to begin with, there is indeed yet another way to capture DVD screenshots – although not with Apple’s built-in DVD Player.

Hopefully you have already installed or at least heard of the invaluable open source media player known as VLC. If not, get to it! It can play just about any video or audio file you throw at it, so it’s guaranteed to come in handy as some point. In fact, this is one of those times. Since movies playing in VLC are not locked down quite like they are in DVD Player, taking screen grabs is a breeze. Just go to Video > Snapshot in the menu bar and the image will pop up right on the Desktop! It’s way easier than messing with DVD Player’s nonsense. So why didn’t I just start off with that? Because it’s fun to learn little hacks and workarounds to problems! …Right?

19 Comments Have Been Posted (Leave Your Response)

Thanks so much!! this totally worked!

this does not work in Mac OS X 10.6

It didn’t work for me.

I’ve got Mac OS X 10.6.4

This doesn’t work in 10.6 (I have 10.6.7), please find another method?

Didn’t work for my OS X 10.6.8 either. Got the crosshairs, hovered over player window, window got highlighted, little camera appeared, got the sound of camera shutter clicking, got the png file,but no image — just the checkerboard background. :-(

I have MAC OS X 10.7.2, and this didn’t work for me. So I downloaded VLC and it works like a charm! Would have preferred not to do that, and I will continue to play around with the MAC DVD player, but at least I have a way to take DVD screenshots now.

So actually the screenshots from VLC save to the Pictures file but that’s just semantics no one cares about, what matters is that VLC is boss and dvd player is fail.

Sweet :) thanks for the tip!

If you’re using 10.6 (Snow Leopard) or later, then try using a different media player, such as VLC. However on the odd occasion where VLC can’t play a DVD, download Skitch from here – – and use it to take the screenshots instead. It even has a convenient keyboard shortcut for when you’re in full-screen.

Soooo, I guess Skitch is on-board with Apple now? I can’t seem to use it to take screenshots in the Mac DVD app. :-(

Anyone have an easy alternative? This doesn’t seem like it should be so hard.


Skritch does NOT work with Lion (MacOS 10.7) to do DVD screencaps now.

Use VLC, then capture the screen the normal way.
Works for me in Lion

No, this no longer works – using 10.7.4 it does take a screen shot BUT it returns a checkerboard – not what you see on the paused video.

I did , however, use VLC player and it allowed me to take any and all screen shots. I”m sure this must have worked at one time, because so many speak of it. However, on my computer, in 10.7.4 someone has foiled this work around. Hope this helps someone who had my results. T

So . . . everyone keeps saying use VLC to play your DVDs, so you can screencap that way, but I don’t see how to play a DVD on vLC at all? Can someone give more explicit instructions about this?

I haven’t found anything that does screencaps from DVDs on Lion. I can do them on my other laptop, which runs Snow Leopard, with Capture Me – it works fine on that OS, but not Lion.

That worked perfectly! Thank you. :)

It doesn’t work on 10.7 neighter. It will just show a png with grey and white squares, but you can also do that with shift+cmd+4 and space.

Every thread I come across RE: this issue ends with people praising the VLC solution, but the sad fact is that picture quality in VLC is severly compromised compared to the clarity of DVD player. I want to take GOOD screenshots );

VLC was a snap and worked like a charm.


i was disappointed but thanks for trying
i made this dvd in a video to dvd player
and when i screen shot it your way or just command shift 3 it comes out just a checkerboard. it is so frustrating.

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