Take video stills on Windows and Mac

I love taking photos, especially still images of moving objects; that being said, you know, sometimes it is a bit arduous to capture fine details of in-motion things and instinctive human expressions with regular photography. I prefer taking videos when a subject is too unsteady and there is no scope for a satisfactory snap. The good thing about a video is that you can split that up and extract hundreds of “otherwise challenging” pictorial moments out of it. I find this video to still image reconstruction really useful at times; however, for the majority, it is not bounded to just photography. People capture static images from videos for many reasons, and typically this involves the use of rather limited “Print Screen key” method in Windows, and the inbuilt alternatives in Mac, iPhone and Android platforms.

Disadvantages in using Print Screen or a native screenshot tool for capturing video stills.

  1.  Mostly there will not be any selection tool for shaping the borders of the video. If we use Print Screen in Windows, the captured image will be a full-screen snapshot of the desktop window on which the command was issued. You then have to take this image to a photo-editing program to crop the video part.
  2.  At times, the capture may not work (especially on web browsers) producing a black image no matter what you do.
  3. There is no Print Screen key in laptops and Mac keyboards.
  4. There won’t be any option to take pictures in burst mode.
  5. The native screenshot utilities in mobile phones are found to re-size video stills to display dimensions.

Why would anyone take still images from videos?

  • To convert a video to photo shots.
  • For creating animations and GIF’s with video image sequences.
  • To capture interesting frames in video songs and trailers.
  • To make presentations with video references.
  • For grabbing video thumbnails and producing tutorials.

Capture and save parts of a video as images in Windows

1. Snipping Tool: Snipping Tool was introduced in Windows Vista for making the system-wide screen capturing easy. Since then it is incorporated in all OS upgrades, including Windows 7 and Windows 8. You can access the Snipping tool by going to the Accessories folder in Start Menu> All Programs. In Windows 8, you may have to use the search box (CTRL+F) to find this software. Snipping Tool comes handy when you want to take still images from YouTube, MetaCafe, DailyMotion, and all other video streaming websites. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the continuous screenshoting feature, so we have to Pause the target video and initiate the tool each time for capturing individual frames.

2.GOM Player supports taking video stills in burst mode: Those familiar video players out there do not have a simple and highly demanded feature that GOM player has; it can capture video screenshots. GOM player for Windows supports video formats like MP4, MOV, WMV, AVI, DIVX, XVID, MPG, VOB, MPEG, FLV, MTS, etc. and is completely free to download. A video, in fact, is a series of frames or images, and extracting these pictures from a video is an easy task with GOM player installed in your computer: it is explained in the screencast given above. You can pre-set the output image quality, time interval between each capture, and the number or images required, etc. in the Control Panel of the application, when you opt for Advanced Capture.
Download GOM player here.
A disadvantage of the GOM player is that it does not support online streaming. So you may still have to use the Snipping Tool or find a substitute if you want to capture uninterrupted sequence of images from web videos.

Take video stills in Mac in burst mode.

In a Mac, there is a keyboard shortcut that triggers an alternative to the Snipping tool/ Print Screen in Windows. Just try pressing the Number key 4 along with Shift and the Command key on your Macintosh keyboard. A selection tool will appear that you can drag with the mouse towards to edges of the video and define a capture: the selection will be saved to your desktop. This approach isn’t that practical when you want to capture video stills in continuous/burst mode. Instantshot for Mac is your choice then.


Download Instantshot for Mac here. (ZIP)

  • Once you install the app you will find a scissor-like icon in the menu bar.
  • Click on it; then, go the preferences and assign an output path, adjust the quality and size of the still images that we are going to capture.
  • Since we need to take sequences of images from the video, we will go for “Multiple Shots.”
  • Now run the target video in the background and pick an image format from Multiple Shots menu.
  • Capturing will begin and screenshots will be saved to the pre-set location.

Instantshot is designed for Mac OS X Lion, but it is perfectly compatible with Mountain Lion and Mavericks. The DMG package of this app might show a security warning if you have-not enabled the installation of applications downloaded from “Anywhere” in your Mac’s Security & Privacy settings.

Convert a video to photo shots in an iPhone or Android device.

How many of you have accidentally taken a video instead of photo in your mobile phone? I have done it many a times, but thankfully, I was able to convert those videos back to high-quality image sets with a few tools.
As you might know, Apple iPhone and Android devices are pre-equipped with a screenshot facility, and this is indeed useful when you want to take a single snap from a local or web video playing in these devices. Just put the target video in full-screen mode and press the Power+Home button to capture that frame as a still image to the camera roll. However, this screenshot thing may not work well in the quality-front.

Capture HD quality still photos from a video took with iPhone.

An iPhone 5S is capable of recording videos in a more standard 1080p dimension but when you take a screenshot of that video, it only yields an image that has the resolution of the retina display, that is 1136 x 640. So how would you get a video still with 1080P (1920×1080) resolution in iPhone?

Download My Moment app here.

My Moment for the iPhone is what you need for this task. It is free, let you control the FPS values (more precise shots) and save the output pic directly to your online backup account/ camera roll.

Separate pictures from a downloaded / camera video in Android.

Android devices are no different from iPhone when it comes to screen capture output. All images grabbed using the default method will have the display-screen dimension regardless of the video resolution.

Download Frame Grabber here.

Frame Grabber is an Android app released by Sony Digital Network application Ltd. This is, in my opinion, one best mobile phone app in the Play Store, designed exclusively for video to still photo conversion. Phone Grabber can import the videos in your Phone’s memory card or Gallery, and it will generate a few thumbnails from it. You can slide through these thumbnails to fix the output image. Sony uses technologies like Digital Noise reduction, Color Tone Optimzation and Super Resolution to fix the abnormalities in the output image, and this makes it different from the free apps in the Play Store. Now if you’re looking for a freeware search ” Video Still Shots” in the store.