How To Quickly Make Animated GIFs From A Screen Recording

Sometimes, it’s a lot easier to record yourself doing something and send it to a person than attempt to describe it for them and watch them struggle to do it themselves. At least, that’s how I feel whenever I’m trying to explain a PC setting or otherwise troubleshoot a friend’s system.

While you can always screen-share with a person to walk them through a software setup or a settings tweak, you can also make a quick animated .GIF that answers their questions and sends them on their way. What you don’t need to do this are fancy programs and complicated recording setups. You just need one simple website: gifcap.

Gif: Imgur

To get started, pull up the site. Spend a second or two scanning the page for the big red “Start Recording” button. Get the application ready that you’re trying to record, shout “action!” like your favourite movie director, and click the button. When you do, you’ll see this pop-up:

Screenshot: David Murphy

Make sure you pick appropriately, as you don’t want to create a gigantic .GIF of your entire screen when all you’re trying to do is show off one setting in a smaller app. Speaking of, you might also want to shrink the window for whatever app you’re demonstrating to the smallest size it needs to be. Again, why send a gigantic .GIF when a small one will do?

As soon as you click “Share,” the recording will start, so get going with whatever it is you meant to do. Once you’re done, hit the “Stop” button in the lower-left corner of your web browser. And don’t worry if it took you a little time to get situated or you screwed something up; you’ll now have the ability to trim your .GIF to the exact moment you need:

Screenshot: David Murphy

Once you’re satisfied with your .GIF, click on “Render” to do just that. Assuming you didn’t try to capture a Michael Bay-length masterwork, it shouldn’t take much time before you have a brand-new .GIF to download. The first time you make one, I’m willing to bet you’ll be blown away by how large the file size is oh no.

Screenshot: David Murphy

Again, a .GIF is really best used to show a short snippet of a specific thing, not a three-minute how-to video capturing your full 1080p screen. The smaller the area you’re capturing in the original source, and the less time you’re recording, the smaller your .GIF will be.

You can also try using a third-party tool to compress the .GIF or convert it to a more-optimised .WEBM file. That can help, but don’t expect it to perform miracles. Compression can reduce the quality of what you’ve recorded—ever a delightful trade-off to manage when you’re staring at a .GIF that would make a colleague’s inbox strain.


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