Streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus and HBO Max have chosen to protect their copyright by placing a black overlay over every screenshot taken from one of their videos.
Disable hardware acceleration in any Chromium-based browser.
In 2018, before I was employed at The edge, I worked as a freelance writer. Things had gotten a little slow when a friend sent me an ad from a production company looking for extras to play “Jewish Resort Guests” for an episode in the second season of The wonderful Mrs. Maisel. It sounded fun, so I applied – and was offered two days’ work in two separate scenes.
Cut to today. Recently I told the story and a friend asked if I did any of the recordings. I think I had it, I told her – I knew my back was in one (thrill!), but I wasn’t sure I’d made it in another. And I got curious to check.
I have a Prime subscription, so I went to the scenes in question to take a screenshot so I could search the crowd to see if I was visible. I found that all my screenshots were completely black. After some searching, I discovered that (a) many streaming services don’t allow you to take screenshots of many (if not all) of their videos and (b) there are ways around this. One of those ways is quite simple.
For Chromium-based browsers such as Chrome and Edge, the easiest way is to disable hardware acceleration.
There doesn’t seem to be a way to take a screenshot on these streaming services using Firefox on a Mac. On the other hand (surprisingly) I had no problems taking a screenshot on a Windows 11 system using Firefox.
But if you Are if you have a problem with a Windows computer, you can also try disabling hardware acceleration in Firefox:
So what about my search for some sort of evidence that I was in a mob scene? The wonderful Mrs. Maisel? Well, in addition to the shot from my back, I was in another very dark shot – a moment in a dark, almost impossible to see corner of a crowd scene. But while this account of my experience as an extra may not be very noticeable, it is emotionally satisfying – at least for me.
By the way, these are not the only ways to extract screenshots from these streaming services. There are other ways to accomplish the same thing – for example, there are several third-party recording apps that may also work. If you’re using a Windows system, you can also try running the video using Windows Sandbox, a way to try out apps individually. However, simply stopping hardware acceleration is probably the easiest method.
And I couldn’t find a way to take a screenshot of these videos using iOS or Android apps. I also couldn’t find a way to do it with Safari other than taking a picture of the screen.