I'm looking for a screen capture tool working on MacOSX that will export the capture to animated gif.

  • Sweet animation - amazing use case. I look forward to ideas how to use the native capture and then post process this... – bmike Oct 17 at 1:49

LICEcap is free (GPL), works on MacOSX, and capture animated GIF directly.


It's never too late ;-)

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  • Reconsidered and gave it a trial run...this is perfect! Works great on my Mac but now would like to see it on RedHat ;-) It's always something. – Kyle Hayes Jun 18 '13 at 15:01

Semi-automated process:

If you need to capture video and convert it to GIF, or a very long involved sequence of steps, then you'll need to combine two separate programs. A video screen capture tool, and a movie to gif conversion tool.

Look at these two questions for possible solutions:

Screen video capture application

How can I convert a .mov into a .gif (or a .apng)?

There don't seem to be that many apps that do the movie --> gif conversion on OS X, though. A lot of people use VLC to capture frames and imagemagick to collect them back together into an animated gif. This is probably why the only answer to the conversion question above used an online service.

Manual process:

There is a way to do it in OS X without an additional tool, and this works well if, for instance, you just want to show someone the sequence of steps to disable a particular system preference. The basic process is this:

  1. Use Cmd-shift-4-spacebar to capture a screenshot of the window for each frame.
  2. Convert the images to gif (or set your screenshot preferences to gif prior to capturing the screenshots)
  3. Open the last screenshot in preview.
  4. Open the sidebar in preview
  5. Show the screenshots in finder, ordered by date
  6. Select the remainder to the screenshots, drag and drop them directly on top of the icon in the sidebar of preview for the file already opened. If you drop them elsewhere it won't add them properly.
  7. Preview the animation by selecting the top icon in the sidebar, then using the down arrow. Rearrange any that are out of order using the sidebar to drag and drop.
  8. Save the document as gif, and then preview using a browser, or another app that shows animated gifs.

This technique is somewhat limited in that you can't easily capture video frames without pausing the video before each capture (for that you should get a video screencapture program and then convert the resulting mov or avi to animated gif), and you can't readily adjust the frame time for each frame.

There's a more detailed tutorial with example here:


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  • Yeah I saw this process mentioned quite a few times across my search results. I don't like it as it would be much too tedious. Thanks for the answer though. – Kyle Hayes Mar 26 '12 at 17:00
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    Impossibly tedious for anything other than a super simple animation. The "typing text in a TextEdit" window example that accompanies this approach on all the web pages that talk about it is about as complicated as you'd want to get with this. – Ian C. Mar 26 '12 at 17:07
  • Ok @Adam, thank you for expanding on your answer. The semi-automated seems to be a lot better than the manual process, however, I'm still surprised it's not already in existence as a feature in some of the larger screen capture tools. – Kyle Hayes Mar 26 '12 at 17:28
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    @KyleHayes Camtasia for PC captures and can export as an animated gif, but Camtasia for Mac doesn't export to gif (yet?). It's probably worthwhile calling them and finding out if they have plans to release that feature in the future. – Adam Davis Mar 26 '12 at 18:29
  • Tutorial link is dead. – Adam Lassek Feb 5 '13 at 23:31

I just used www.convert-image.com to convert a Keynote-export QuickTime movie file in to an animated GIF and it worked great. The process was relatively painless and the end results was a animation I used to answer a question here on AskDifferent: How to partially uncover bullet points in Keynote

The End Result

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    I just used that site to convert a ScreenFlow capture to an animated .gif for my IT how-to wiki, worked great - thanks. – da4 May 23 '12 at 20:18

There is a really fantastic guide at http://opensourcehacker.com/2012/11/21/creating-animated-gif-screen-captures-on-osx/

In summary

  1. Record video using QuickTime Player
  2. Converting the screen capture video to animated GIF (with GIF Brewery)
  3. Crop and shrink the capture area
  4. Use low FPS
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In macOS Catalina simply press ⇧⌘5 (Shift-Command-5) and you can choose from the following:

  • Capture Entire Screen
  • Capture Selected Window
  • Capture Selected Portion
  • Record Entire Screen
  • Record Selected Portion

Afterwards, if you want to convert the MOV file into a GIF, you can use brew install gifski (gifski is free at the time of this post) or GIF Brewery 3, which is 4.99 (sorry, it used to be free) on the Mac App Store.

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  • This is useful, and a much-needed update. I use MacPorts instead of homebrew. Unfortunately gifski isn't available as a MacPort app, but gifsicle is. – Seamus Oct 19 at 8:05

I am using a utility called Claquette. It can be used to convert video files to GIFs and it also comes with an integrated screen recorder.
The app is a free download on the Mac App Store.
It's editing capabilities are very limited (just crop & trim), but usually that's enough for me.

To compare the results, I replicated the GIF in your question. My version came up as a ~35s long animation with a file size of 511KB: brew

There are plenty of other tools out there - I went with this one because it provided the best quality/size trade-offs in the exported GIFs (which I usually attach to a newsletter service with size limitations).

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Use Apple Quicktime Player (in the Applications folder) and make a New Screen Recording:

enter image description here

You can either create a full-screen recording, or you can draw a selection box around any part of the screen and record just the selected area.

Much more information is found at Apple Support and is especially handy as it shows the interface changes between the Mojave and the Catalina versions for Screen recording.

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  • The original question is about a need for an animated gif. – Kyle Hayes Nov 24 at 14:04
  • @KyleHayes - obviously. – IconDaemon Nov 24 at 14:07

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