Creating Screen Capture Animated GIFs for Mac OSX

I regularly create short, animated GIFs of my computer screen to illustrate tutorial blog posts that I write. An animated GIF can be such a simple yet effective tool for web based tutorials but they can be a complete pain to create.

Creating Screen Capture Animated GIFs

I’ve recently come across a new and FREE piece of software that has made the process so incredibly easy. Whereas I have historically had to record a video of my screen actions (with a video screen capture tool) and then use another piece of software to convert the video to GIF, usually with an horrific loss in quality, I can now complete the action in one go.

LICEcap is so easy to use and creates impressive quality output, quickly. You simply open the application, which reveals a transparent window frame that you can move and resize. You then press the record button on the bottom right of the window frame and perform your action. Press stop when you’ve finished and your GIF is ready to go.

NB – My mac is set to open GIFs in preview by default but in order to view the animation in its full glory you will need to open in a web browser such as Safari.

Here is an example of a short GIF I created using LICEcap to demonstrate how to create a pivot table using Microsoft Excel for Mac OSX.

Animated GIF from screen capture

I am very happy with the quality of this GIF and the ease of production was impressive.

Image Compression

As I’ve created quite a large GIF I have chosen to compress it using an equally simple program called ImageOptim. Download and run this program and then drag and drop your GIF (or indeed any image file) to immediately compress without any apparent loss in quality. I achieved a 10% reduction in size with Pivot Table tutorial but it ImageOptim claim that reductions up to 50% are achievable.

Here it is in action.


I also run Windows 10 on my Mac so that I can run a decent version of excel. Happily LICEcap also has an excellent windows version.

ImageOptim doesn’t so you might find this in depth review of cross platform image compressors to be useful.

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