How to Use LICEcap to Record and Turn Screen Captures into Animated GIFs

When I wrote about enhanced plugin installs being removed from WordPress 4.2 last week, a few readers asked how I created the animated image that shows how shiny updates work. I used LICEcap by Çockos Incorporated, which is free, GPL licensed software available for Windows and OSX.

LICEcap Frame
LICEcap Frame

LICEcap has an adjustable frame that you place over the content you want to record. You can adjust the frame manually by dragging the edges with your mouse cursor, or you can type in an exact size. You can also adjust the max frames per second, but keep in mind that the higher the number, the larger the file size will be.

When you hit the record button, you’ll be prompted to name the file and select where it will be saved. There’s also configuration settings that allow you to manipulate the recording.

Recording Settings
Recording Settings

I don’t know what most of the options do and LICEcap doesn’t have any documentation outside of this discussion forum. I recommend checking the box to use Control + Alt + P to pause the recording. This way, you won’t see the mouse cursor move off the screen to click the pause button. LICEcap doesn’t have an editor to manage frames so if you make a mistake, you’ll have to start over. Since animated GIFs should be as short and small as possible, the lack of a frame editor isn’t a big deal.

Once everything is configured, click the save button and a three second countdown begins. When the countdown reaches 0, LICEcap begins recording movement within the frame. On the bottom left of the recording window, you’ll see the size of the frame, timestamp, and the amount of FPS.

Recording Status
Recording Status

Once you’re satisfied with the recording, upload the GIF file to the WordPress media library. When you insert it into a post, make sure to use the full size image since animated GIFs don’t scale as well as JPG files.

A Few Tips When Creating Animated GIFs

Keep the recording as short and small as possible. Resize the recording window so it’s only as big as necessary. Animation such as scrolling and page browsing should be kept to a minimum. Last but not least, play with the recording options as there might be a combination that decreases the file size of recordings.

Animated GIFs are great for a few laughs, but they’re also an excellent way to show how something works. They’re a great option when using video doesn’t make sense. What do you use or recommend to record screen captures in GIF format?

10 Comments


  1. I love LICEcap, even if it sounds like a hat you wear to keep your hair safe from getting lice. ;)

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  2. CloudApp (getcloudapp.com) works really well for capturing screenshots and animated GIFs. Give it a try if you have a Mac.

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    1. For Linux’y readers, SilentCast works well for these types of tasks. I’ve successfully used it on multiple distros.

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  3. I’ve used (and love) this tool, but as a mom with two school-age kids, I find the name triggering! Ugggghhh

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  4. LICECap is great for making quick animated GIFs. I also use the best software every created called ShareX which lets you take screenshots and upload to any of about 20 locations including your own FTP server. ShareX also has the option to do some annotations, arrows, text, shapes, cropping, and more after you capture the screenshot it will open up[ the editor to do any of those edits and on save it will upload to your destination and copy URL to your clipboard. It also saves a copy locally on your computer. It actually does about 200 more thing so it is worth looking at. I use it every single day and have been using it for about 5 years. It is constantly updated with new features and auto-updates when new version available. The newest feature added is screen recording to video file and as animated GIFs! It has different encoding options and uses the famous FFMpeg software to process the files for screen recording. I use both of these programs all the time ShareX and LICEcap and they are just great. I do have a handful of items I would like to be added to LICEcap, maybe someday someone will update the software or build a better version

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  5. I love this! It can be difficult to incorporate eye catching imagery in to my posts, and gif’s have been beyond me till now (Video always seems like a little too much!)

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