Google just made it easier to grab high-quality still images from videos — and it works in a bunch of browsers. In a post on Google’s Keyword blog aimed at students, the company announced a new feature built into Chrome that lets you capture a high-quality, non-overlayed frame from the source video. Just right-click on the video when paused and select “Copy Video Frame.” It might not work on all videos — actually, as far as I can tell, it mostly just works on YouTube — but it does work in a bunch of Chromium-based browsers, not just Chrome.
Google’s pitching this as a tool for students to grab notes from lecture videos, which, sure! After messing around with the new feature for a few minutes, I can confirm that it does offer much higher quality screenshots than my two previous techniques: taking a screen capture or the Enhancer for YouTube “screenshot” button.
The good old Cmd-Shift-4 method has some drawbacks.
A frame from the same video, captured using Copy Video Frame, is in full 4K, with better color and no overlay.
Here’s the most interesting stuff I’ve found about the new feature:
- It works on YouTube — and Google Photos videos, which use the YouTube player — but you have to right-click twice to get to the browser right-click menu instead of the YouTube one.
- Frames copied from YouTube are in the video’s streaming resolution, not the resolution it’s actually showing on the screen. When I used the screen capture tool on a YouTube video that was streaming in 4K but playing in a roughly 2560 x 1440 window, it captured at roughly 2560 x 1440, with the controls and captions intact and oddly dull colors. The Copy Video Frame feature got the full 4K resolution frame and warmer colors.
- In my cursory testing, it worked in the latest versions of Arc and Microsoft Edge, which are both Chromium-based. I don’t have every Chromium-based browser on my work laptop, but it probably works in a bunch of others, too, if they’re up to date.
- It really is copy, not save, so it’s great for pasting screenshots into notes — as Google explicitly calls out in its blog post — but saving the images requires an extra step.
- It doesn’t work on Instagram, TikTok, Vimeo, JW Player, or anywhere the browser’s right-click menu is suppressed.
Actually, aside from YouTube, I’m not sure where else it does work. I haven’t tested every video player on the web, so if you find somewhere else it works, please let us know in the comments.