Taking a Screen Capture of a DVD in Mac OS X

posted in: Sage Advice | 0

Ever since OS X came out, Apple made sure that it would not be possible to take a screenshot of a DVD. When DVD Player is open, you can’t capture the screen with Grab, Command-Shift-3, or Command-Shift-4.  This makes it impossible to take a screen capture from a movie you are watching.

Here are two options for you.

Option 1: Don’t use Apple’s DVD Player

Apple’s built-in DVD player is great and convenient but it isn’t your only option for watching DVDs. There is a free alternative video player called VLC Media Player which handle more video types than Apple’s. And, as we mentioned earlier, it is free! You can download a copy at


With VLC Player you can do a normal screen capture.

Option 2: Use Apple’s DVD Player with a Secret Workaround

If you don’t want yet another piece of software on your Mac, you can still use Apple’s DVD Player to play your movie but you must use the terminal to capture the screen. Follow these instructions to capture your video frame. (Note: You can only capture a single frame, not the playing video.)
1) Put your DVD in your computer and open DVD Player (Applications -> DVD Player) if it does not open automatically. Go to Video -> Maximum Size, or hit Command-3. Fast forward to the frame you want to capture, or select the scene to start at. Pause the movie at the frame you want to capture.

2) Open the Terminal (Applications -> Utilities -> Terminal). Type this, or copy / paste it right in the Terminal:

screencapture -i ~/Desktop/dvd.png

Your mouse should turn into crosshairs. Now hit the space bar. Your mouse should now be a camera. Click the window the DVD is playing in. A file called “dvd.png” will appear on your desktop.

That’s it! To capture more frames, just change the filename in terminal from dvd.png to dvd1.png, dvd2.png, and so on.

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