LICEcap: Simple Animated Screen Captures(cockos.com)
From macOS Catalina on, there’s a new screen capture mode under cmd + shift + 5, that includes mp4 recording capture. That’s replaced most of my previous Giphy Capture use.
Additionally you can use gifski to convert clips to gifs. I don’t know if it’s the most efficient (quality/space wise) tool out there but it’s dead simple to use, and combined with the built in screen capture tools in macOS it makes for a really fast workflow to capture, edit and convert clips.
(No affiliation, just a happy customer.)
For Mac Users...
Apple + Shift + 4, then hit Space and you can capture screenshots of specific Windows.
(This has been around forever, but easy to come across people who didn't know about it.)
MP4s aren’t as supported as GIFs. Even if you convert them they’ll be heavier than LICEcap’s results because of the MPEG compression artifacts
> MP4s aren’t as supported as GIFs.
That's barely true for H.264 and it is a much worse format in every other way. Effective quality is higher with modern video formats because the lower data rates afford higher resolutions and higher frame rates. Even the LICEcap demos show that.
It's a neat tool, the user interface is really cool, but it would be better in a different format.
This would be more true if sites like GitHub would allow uploading and embedding of MP4 files where they allow GIFs. But that's not usually the case unless you go through something Gyfy first.
Fair, I was thinking more about device compatibility.
It is very frustrating that github doesn’t allow videos in their issue threads. I often get bug reports that include an animated gif that captures the bug in action, and quite often I need to loop several times before I can figure out the order of actions. If these were video I could just start from the beginning.
This was introduced in Mojave, not Catalina.
TIL, thanks! The one good thing about LICEcap is you can position the box over anything and record just a small area. Can you use option with cmd + shift + 5 or any other modifier to just choose one part of the screen?
It probably won't replace iShowU or OBS for all the features I sometimes need, but a quick screengrab video would be nice now and then.
> Can you use option with cmd + shift + 5 or any other modifier to just choose one part of the screen?
I didn't know osx could do screen recordings like that (without having to open quicktime). +1
But... I will still use LICEcap for github pull requests, because github rejected the video I made with osx (file type? size?)
I believe it is mov instead of mp4. mp4 would be great since it takes much much less space.
MOV and MP4 are container formats, so MOV can be smaller than MP4 depending on the video formats used.
Sure, but there's no option to control which format it creates the capture in. Besides I end up ffmpeg converting it to mp4 and get a video about 10x smaller.
I remember I accidentally left Licecap running for about 6 hours and it just generated this massive unoptimized binary blob of raw screen grabs on my disk. Generated a file so large that Windows was complaining it had no space left to do vital things like allocate memory to swap and other tasks.
For a Linux alternative (which is not supported by LICEcap), I recommend Peek.
This one  works well for me on Linux, it allows exporting to many different formats. You can even make the recording rectangle follow your cursor, works well with multiple screens too.
Still looking for something that allows panning and zooming while recording, on Linux or Windows.
I can second the SimpleScreenRecorder suggestion; it is amazing and feature-rich yet still relatively straightforward to use.
For panning and zooming, you could try to use a screen magnifier such as KMag and then have SSR record the KMag window?
LICEcap also works quite well on Linux via Wine.
Why would install/use wine for screen capture when you have several native tools doing the job ?
Because the last time I needed to do that job I couldn't find any native tools that were anywhere near as good as LICEcap.
This is such a great tool which deserves a wider audience. I honestly think that more people would hear about it & use it if it had a less unappealing name.
Agree, every time I recommend it to someone I feel the need to qualify it with "the name is really weird, but trust me it's a great tool". It would be hard to come up with anything that is more random/irrelevant to the functionality, and also more off-putting than "lice".
On Windows, I use ShareX, which is free, open-source, lightweight, and has tons of useful features. I love it!
There used to be an issue with ShareX where, by default, it uploaded screenshots and recordings to free online sharing sites, so that you could quickly share links to your files with others. I am not sure if this is still the case, but if you want to give ShareX a try and don't want your files online, make sure to disable this option.
While somewhat the default, there is a prompt on the first capture if you would like to upload it. Selecting No will be remembered until toggled manually in the user settings
I love LICEcap. I would use the built in video capture from macOS, but LICEcap produces files that are much smaller.
The quality isn't as good, but most gifs I am producing are meant to be viewed in slack or iMessage where the quality is not super important.
For Windows you can use ScreenToGif (https://www.screentogif.com/), which does exactly the same thing + you can edit your GIF afterwards.
This one's my favorite, use it all the time at work. It even downloaded ffmpeg for me, which was a nice bonus, and is easily portable
It is one of the best little tools around AFAICT.
The Windows version "installer" can be opened with 7-zip and double clicking on \licecap128-install.exe\licecap-exe (155877 bytes) the program works just fine from within the archive.
Convenient to use and very helpful for technical illustrations. For ex, I created the gifs here  using LICEcap - showing a class boundary in 3D space. Have been using it at work for a couple of years now.
 https://blog.statsbot.co/support-vector-machines-tutorial-c1... sorry, couldn't find a gif to directly link to. If you don't want to scroll, ctrl+F for the text "This is what the projected data looks like". There are two consecutive gifs, then a static image, and then another gif after that.
I have been using this for 5 years now. Great for demos, bug report, etc. Super light weight. Everyone I recommend it to loves it.
Cockos is the company that also develops Reaper, which is probably the best audio production software out there.
Which is Justin Frankel of Winamp fame
This is a really useful tool and I had been using it for quite a while before I learned that Cockos is the new name of Justin Frankel’s company. He who made Winamp and Gnutella.
And Reaper! The best DAW for music and podcast production because it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. I didn’t realize all these were made by the same company.
LICEcap is great. Unfortunately I always need or want to edit the gifs afterwards.
That's where ezgif  comes into play. I'm usually not a fan of web apps, but ezgif works well and I never found a offline gif editor that capable. It's amazing how hard you can optimize a gif if you can live with less frames or a few artifacts.
With LICEcap you can always record to .lcf and edit with REAPER then you render to GIF.
I used to use LICEcap, but for some reason it was failing me (I don’t remember what). I went on a journey (through 10 Mac gif makers) to find the “best” gif maker and I settled on GIF Brewery and I’ve never looked back.
I've had trouble doing captures on a second monitor; the gifs turn out all black. I always move my items to my laptop monitor before capturing and that does the trick.
This dual monitor capture bug was a pain point. Unhooking the monitor each time I wanted to capture a non-blank gif wore me down.
It's a known issue, the work around is to manually add .gif when prompted before recording starts.
For Windows ScreenToGif seems to be one of the best due to a small footprint and features available.
On Mac I was using LICECap as well, but wasn't too satisfied with the blurry picture, color palette and low frame rate, although it's still good if needed urgently.
Trying to find something else I bumped into Kap with mp4, gif and webm format exporting, also simple trimming is included. I'm not that happy to know that it's an Electron-based app, but that's the price. Apart from that the size of webm files is even smaller than mp4 and browser support is pretty good these days.
Back when I was just a wee tike hoping I could record my screen to make machinima or perhaps even Runescape videos, screen recording was the holy grail of cool tools that were hard to access or nowhere near accessible. I'm talking Camtasia, that sort of thing. It seems like a very obvious result of the level of technology we have at our disposal now but it still warms my heart that there are so many ways to freely and virtually tap friends and strangers on the shoulder and show them what's happening on our screen.
Here's a similar one that does webm, mp4 and gif https://github.com/tarkusdev/WebMCam
One tip - for UI based Pull Requests/Merge Requests, consider attaching a LICEcap GIF of the before and after if you don't have any screenshot testing set up.
I work on a pretty front-end-intensive app (https://wanderlog.com) and it makes code reviews way easier, as you can see the change in context.
The gifs occasionally can go over the 10 MB cap that Gitlab allows, and in those cases I do a quick re-encode using Handbrake to a mp4 video.
I really wished github would allow mp4 videos in the pull-request/issue threads. Getting a capture of the bug makes things easy. Being able to control the playback of the demo would be even better.
A bit from 2014: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8695308
You should also give gifcap a try. It's cross platform, browser based, client side only, with a preview editor which allows you to trim and crop the recording.
Plus, it's open source: https://github.com/joaomoreno/gifcap
I really love LICEcap, I've been using it for years. It's a simple program that does exactly what it advertises to do, no fluff.
I haven’t seen any mention of what I think is the best gif screen recording app, Claquette. It’s quite advanced and has built in cropping/trimming. The exported GIFs are high quality and somehow magically quite small file size.
Is it still maintained? The latest release notes are from 2018.
LICEcap is great software - we use it extensively on my team to share little highlight reels of a given feature in pull requests
I used this constantly for things like making demo "videos". Great tool. The only thing that drew me away was using a cloud based screen capture tool so that after capture the gif/video was already being pushed to a url I could share. It's wild how just saving me a step or two makes all the difference in adoption of somthing.
Any idea why it's called LICEcap? Feel like I'm missing something obvious. I get the cap part, but not the LICE.
LICE - Lightweight Image Compositing Engine. WDL is a small cross platform library they have built to support the development of REAPER afaik
Its an amazing tool to quickly record product feature demos for sales pages, or visual aids for user support cases.
LICEcap is really nice for making itch.io covers. I'm a big fan of it!
I recently found https://gifcap.dev/. Performance is slow, but good to use if I can't install software on a machine.
The best part of LICEcap is that the result is often quite lightweight, even though the color palette isn’t always the best.
Too bad it’s a little buggy on macOS (especially Catalina)
On macOS, I use GIPHY Capture - not open-source but free and works much better than LICEcap.
edit: just noticed this comment https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22692523
I’d rather not use yet another bloated Electron app. The bugs can be overcome and the results are not affected
It is actually a native and fast Swift app and its only feature that can be considered 'bloated' is instant upload to giphy.com (which I have never used).
If you want a good palette, try https://gif.ski
I used this for years until gifcam came out...now I use it whenever I'm on a retired machine that does not have internet connection anymore
My only problem with this is that I can't get a high enough frame-rate.
Oh, anyone else noticed that it sometimes creates a 1px white line on an edge?
Yes, the frame rate seems to cap out at ~15-20 fps, and captured images really don't play well with Discord in most cases. I usually open then re-export with Gimp when posting to Discord, which isn't a great workflow.
This still works for latest macOS? I tried it the other day and the record button didn't do anything.
Make sure you have the .gif extension on your filename. Fixed it for me on Catalina. See https://github.com/justinfrankel/licecap/issues/71#issuecomm...
Is there any capture solution that will post directly to Slack? With transcriptions?
LICEcap is a good bit of software. I also really enjoy OBS which allows for narration.
Is anybody else mildly annoyed by the proliferation of meaningful or instructive gifs. Videos have been supported on by all major browsers for almost a decade now. And videos are both smaller in size and provide better interaction for viewers. Why are we still recording gifs?
Nope, the opposite. Markdown + animated gif has been a great improvement in the world in recent years. The Visual Studio Code release information pages are an example: https://code.visualstudio.com/updates/v1_43 - this page with uBlock is about as good as the modern web gets. I don't love how long it takes to load, but if they were videos I had to click to play, that would be worse.
Video, video buffering, video with broken skipping, players blocked by ad blockers, players that take ages to load and contact tons of sites, autoplaying video, video which pops out to picture-in-picture and floats over the content, video with adverts interrupting playback, video with overlays interrupting the video, video which stalls midway through, video which breaks if you leave it paused long enough for some session to timeout and it can't resume, video which often re-downloads after skipping back to an already-downloaded section, has been the opposite of a great improvement.
Twitter feeds in a browser where the videos auto-play as you scroll over them, but play without sound so you have to mute your audio, unmute the video, then restart it to catch whether you missed anything - but if you click wrong it whisks you away to load that tweet in a new page and reloads everything including the video muted again - are the worst of all worlds.
> And videos are smaller in size
Even as someone who whines a lot about efficiency and waste and bloaty websites, this is still a time I'd rather say "if gif is too big, find a way to make gif smaller, not replace them with a worse experience".
Your comparison is unfair. Authors can make videos autoplay, play on scroll or whatever. Authors don’t need to put ads or trackers in their videos, and there is nothing stopping them from adding ads or trackers to a gif (replace the source with an ad every couple of loops; in fact the 1px transparent gif is the original tracker). Everything else you complained about can also be present with gifs (except the picture-in-picture; which is simply not a feature animated gifs).
Your twitter complaints for example is completely invalid, gifs cannot play sound at all, nor can you start from beginning if you wanted to. In fact I find it very frustrating to have to wait an entire loop to wait for an instructional gif to start from scratch, with videos you can auto-play on scroll, you can pause, you can rewind, etc.
Btw. your favorite vs-code website stalls in my browser, spins up my fan and scrolls really sluggishly because of all the gifs.
My complaints about what people actually do are unfair, because you can imagine things being different? Load a page with a video which doesn't play immediately and a gif which doesn't play immediately, and it's annoying for both, then leave it for a bit and the gif will very likely load then loop so I don't miss it when I look back, the video is as likely to play then autoplay the next 'related' video so if I don't wait, I do miss it. Gifs tend to sit inside a mobile page while loading, then play in-place ready to be scrolled back to. Videos tend to fullscreen when played and then have to be waited for, or start playing tiny then have to be fullscreened and restarted to watch. Gifs tend to scale with pinch-zoom, videos don't. It's not that the gif file format mandates that they must loop, or that video codecs mandate playlists, but that's what people actually do with them and all those things together make videos a worse experience for anything which doesn't need to be long form video.
Authors don't need to put ads in videos but they do. I have never seen a gif say "an error occurred, try again later" when I try to unpause it, like YouTube says several times each day for videos I paused yesterday. (inb4 "works on my machine"). Authors could replace gif frames with ads but they generally don't, and haven't done so for years.
> Your twitter complaints for example is completely invalid, gifs cannot play sound at all
Excellent. This means I a) never miss something in the audio track, because there isn't one. b) never have to take action unmute a gif. c) never have to mute music and unmute a gif and rewind it just to find out if there is audio to miss or not. d) Nobody ever says "don't forget to subscribe and hit that notification bell, thanks from my Patreon sponsors like xxSwagMaster, buy my merch and smash that like button" on a gif. This means gifs can't be a replacement for all video, nor am I suggesting they should be; only saying I prefer to err on the side of gif more than most people, because the experience is generally less annoying (not completely annoyance-free).
> I find it very frustrating to have to wait an entire loop to wait for an instructional gif to start from scratch
Me too. It would be neat if right click -> reload image, restarted it, or if there was a restart option in the right click menu.
> with videos you can auto-play on scroll
You can also be listening to a Twitter video, scroll it juuuust off screen, and have Twitter decide you must have gone deaf as well and pause playing. You can also no longer watch a YouTube video and lock your iPhone to keep the audio playing, like you could a few iOS versions ago. This is nothing to do with video codecs per-se, it's just part and parcel of video on the web and the companies which control it and the things people do with it to grab control and commercialise and overreach. Apparently nobody cares about gif enough to do that kind of thing with it - or it's so limited, there are fewer places to do that kind of thing.
> Btw. your favorite vs-code website stalls in my browser, spins up my fan and scrolls really sluggishly because of all the gifs.
"That thing you like, sucks" - well, different things for different people.
I have ublock automatically reject media files over 5mb. the number of gifs I see that push this are astounding.
I wish people would pick their formats better, or the platforms that supported them offered the functionality to allow it.
Some pages have 100s of MB of gifs, it's a serious problem to users with a datacap due to some ignorant Web author
It's a must
There's ttygif for Linux that does the same.