It is easy to take a snapshot of a video frame using VLC. VLC is an extremely popular free media player for Windows, Mac and Linux – it recently achieved the milestone of over 1 billion downloads from the developers’ servers.
Take A Video Snapshot using VLC – First, if you don’t already have it, install VLC – the latest version 2.0.1 is available from VideoLAN here.
[The installation process will determine if you have an older version of VLC installed and uninstall it automatically i.e. you do not have to manually uninstall VLC 1.x.xx before installing the newest version]
Once installed, play your video in VLC and pause it (press Pause button or press the Spacebar) when you reach the position you want to take a snapshot of. Now click ‘Video’ in the menu bar and then click ‘Take Snapshot’ – a small thumbnail picture of the snapshot and the filename appears at the top left of the video and disappears after a couple of seconds.
You have now taken the snapshot
Tip: there is a Hotkey shortcut – instead of using the menu bar you can also press Shift+S keys to take a snapshot.
By default the location where snapshots are saved is (My) Pictures. If you want them to be saved to a different folder in future, from the VLC menu bar select Tools \ Preferences then click the Video tab as shown below:
In the Video Snapshots – Directory section, ‘Browse’ to the folder where you want them to be saved then press OK.
Now press the Save button to save your changes then close VLC – future snapshots should be saved in the folder you specified.
Filename of Saved Snapshots
Snapshots are saved in .PNG format. By default the filename of saved snapshots is the Prefix of vlcsnap- followed by the timestamp (date and time saved).
If you want them to be saved with a different filename format in future, from the VLC menu bar select Tools \ Preferences then click the Video tab (same as above).
In the Video Snapshots – Prefix section you can change the prefix from vlcsnap- to whatever you like (e.g. snapshot). You can also select/tick the ‘Sequential numbering’ tickbox if you wish to use sequential numbers (starting at 00001) instead of timestamps for the numbering e.g. snapshot00001, snapshot0002 etc
Now press the Save button to save your changes then close VLC – future snapshots should be saved in the file format you specified.
Warning: leave the ‘Format’ of the snapshots as the default – PNG. If you change it to JPG the snapshots will not work and you will get a ‘Steaming/Transcoding failed’ error message. This is a known bug in VLC 2.0.1
The default shortcut is Shift+S to take a snapshot. If you want to change that, select Tools \ Preferences then click the Hotkeys tab. Scroll down to (or use the search box to filter) the ‘Take video snapshot’ action.
Double click this action to open the ‘Hotkey For Take video snapshot’ message – now press the combination of keys you want to use as the new hotkey e.g. Shift+D
If the new combination is already used by another action a warning message will appear – choose a different combination as the same hotkey can’t perform 2 different actions. Now press the Save button to save your changes then close VLC – future snapshots will be taken when you press the new Hotkey you specified.
Convert PNG to JPEG etc.
PNG files can be opened/edited in most graphics viewers/programs (even the lowly Microsoft Paint) and resaved in JPEG or other format if you prefer as shown below.
Save a PNG file in JPEG format using Microsoft Paint
Right click the png snapshot file, select ‘Open With’ and then select ‘Paint’ to open MS Paint. Click on File in the menu bar (XP) or top left Menu button (Vista/W7) then select ‘Save As’ to open the Save As window.
Browse to where you want to save the file, edit the filename (if you want) and change the ‘Save as type’ dropdown to JPEG then press Save as shown below:
VLC provides a simple way to take a snapshot of a video frame. You can only save snapshots in PNG format using VLC 2.0.1 but hopefully the next update will fix this so you can choose to save them in JPEG format.
Even so, it is still much easier to use than PrintScreen because you don’t have to crop out the picture afterwards…