Enabling the Print Screen key for Media Center

Now that Windows 7 has officially shipped, I’ll be posting some detailed looks at individual features, including Media Center. And as I was creating the gallery of screen shots for one new feature, it dawned on me that there’s an undocumented trick that hasn’t gotten very wide coverage.

If you have Media Center playing in full-screen mode, pressing the Print Screen key produces a black screen. Annoying, right? Fortunately, there’s an easy fix. (It was introduced ages ago in Windows Vista and still works in Windows 7.)

Open Registry Editor and navigate to the following key:

HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Media Center\Service\Video

Create a new DWORD value called EnablePrintScreen and set its value to 1, like this:

Enable Print Screen in Media Center

Restart Media Center and try pressing the Print Screen key again. This time you’ll find that it captures the full image, even when protected content is playing.

(Thanks to Richard Miller, Randal Aguilar, and Jeff Griffin for the original discovery.)

5 thoughts on “Enabling the Print Screen key for Media Center

  1. Ouch – this is a really bad thing to enable, or at least to leave enabled. The reason the screen is normally black is that everything is sent directly to the video card via accelerated means. This setting sacrifices DXVA performance to allow the current window to be “captured” like a regular GDI surface.

  2. A little program called “Print Screen 2000” will do one better by allowing you to print the whole screen or a box you define or save to a file. Freeware and 85K. Put it in your startup folder and it resides in the tray.

  3. Andrew, I thought the same thing, but then again if you are capturing screens who cares about a little jumpyness in your video? Reality is that most video, even including some HD video really doesn’t require that much power to reproduce on a computer monitor any more. Even Intel’s much hated integrated video can do video quite well is most cases. Once you’ve captured what you need you can turn this feature back off again. A simple script can make this on/off task super easy.

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