Export Still Frame Image From a Video

You can export a still frame image from a video many different ways with the software that comes with your Mac. If you are already in iMovie, you can use the sharing function to export an image from the current frame in the timeline or a library clip. In Photos you can save a frame in a video to your Photos library as a picture, and you can also copy the current frame and paste it into another app. The easiest way is with QuickTime Player where you can copy the current frame and then paste it into Preview or any other app that handles images.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Export Still Frame Image From a Video.

Let's take a look at four different ways that you can export a still frame from a video as an image on your Mac. Let's start with iMovie. A lot of times people want to do this in iMovie while they're working on a project. So, the first thing you want to do is you want to position the line in the timeline here on the frame that you want. You can use the Preview window here to view what it is you're over. So I can go over anything I want in here. Let's select this frame, for instance. Click on it and now you can see it still follows the cursor but as soon as my cursor leaves the timeline area it snaps to that position. This is what I'll get. I go to File, I go to Share, and Image. This will export the frame as a jpeg image.

You can do the same thing using the Share button here at the top right. You can select Image. It's the same way to get to the same function. Now you can do the same thing with a clip, by the way. So I can click on the clip here even if it's not in the timeline. I can position the cursor where I want and click to place it there. You can see that's what's available here now. So now when I use File, Share, and Image I'm going to get this image here rather than the part of the video that's shown here in the timeline.

Now in the Photos app, if you've ever have videos in there, it's pretty easy to export as a still image. There are two ways to do it. So let's look at the first way. I'm going to go into the video here and all I need to do first is find the frame that I want to export as an image. From there I can click the little Settings button here and you can see I can Export Frame to Picture. So what will happen is it's going to take a copy of this frame and export it as a photo. So now I still have the video there but if I look to my Photos Library I would see there's also a photo that's of this particular frame here. Of course it helps if the video is pretty high resolution to create a good photo. So that's the first way to do it.

The second way to do it is something that won't create a new item in Photos. It will allow you to Paste the photo into another app. So I can just go in here. I've got the video paused on this frame. I go to Edit, Copy. Now I can go to another app. Let's go to Preview because it's very easy to paste something in Preview. As a matter of fact there's a file new from Clipboard function which will create a new image here and automatically paste in what I have in the Clipboard. You can see there I've got this now as an image in Preview. Now I can actually hit Save and decide, you know, what format to save it as and what file name, and all of that. That's the second way to do it in Photos. That will create a completely separate file outside of the Photos Library.

The last way I want to show you how to do it is probably the simplest. Especially if you have the video as just a file on your drive. You can open up that file. It probably opens up by default in QuickTime Player. So let's do that. I'm going to double click on a video there and it opens up in QuickTime Player. Now I can play the video or I can pull the timeline here and find a frame that I want to use as a still frame. Now all I need to do is go to Edit and then to Copy. Just like before I can now open up in Preview and select New From Clipboard and it will paste that in there. It also works to paste it into another app like PhotoShop or even something like Keynote. Anything you can paste an image into you can Copy the frame from QuickTime Player and then Paste it into another app like that and get a still frame from the video.

Comments: 3 Responses to “Export Still Frame Image From a Video”

    Douglas Brace
    1 year ago

    When getting a still frame out of iMovie, is it possible for it to be a different image format is JPG/JPEG the only possibility? I ask because JPG/JPEG is a compressed image and not always the best quality.

    1 year ago

    Douglas: That’s it. Use QuickTime Player if you want something else. But keep in mind that video is compressed anyway (unless you are using pro-level special video formats) so I doubt that using jpeg or png will make much of a difference. The frame in the video is probably more compressed than the jpeg image you export.

    1 year ago

    At 1:55 in the video you are incorrect – when the photo is exported a TIFF file is created in the Pictures folder. It does not appear in the Photos app.

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