If a picture is worth 1000 words, a video must be pure gold. But recording and sending a video capture of your screen for a quick how-to or to demonstrate an issue is a chore. Today I’m going to share a tool I found to make it much easier.

LICEcap is a small utility that requires no installation, and makes it a breeze to record all or part of your screen as a small GIF animated picture.  Unlike video files, these small images are easy to email and share, and are ideal for quick demonstrations of about 5 to 30 seconds.

The program itself looks like an empty window frame.  You just position it around the area you want to record, then hit record.  It asks for a file name and then records as you do your demo. When you’re done, you hit stop, and your picture file is ready.

The LICECap program running on Windows 10 desktop.
The LICEcap program is transparent, and will capture anything within its own edges while recording. (Click picture to enlarge)

These short clips are also ideal for documentation pages. It is a good idea to keep these short, because as a looping GIF picture, there’s no way to pause/rewind/fast forward for the user.  Most phones and web email clients show the animation as well, but Outlook desktop users have to click through the image to see it play in their web browser because Outlook does not animate GIF pictures.

GIFs are ubiquitous, compatible, and highly shareable on Twitter and Instagram, but I’ve also used them when recording bugs in Atlassian Jira and other trackers.  Indeed I’ve had lots of great feedback from developers and stakeholders that appreciate a short 5-second demo of a problem that is difficult to explain in writing or a single screenshot.

Below are some additional samples of these animated captures I’ve created using the LICEcap tool.

QAlt-Escape, one of the best kept multi-tasking keyboard shortcuts secrets.
Alt-Escape, one of the best kept multi-tasking keyboard shortcuts secrets. Hold Alt then hit Escape to send the current window to the back of the stack without minimizing it. Great when you need it available or even partially in view.

 

You know you can size a column to fit by double-clicking the right resize devider, but did you know you you can press Ctrl + [NumberPad Plus Sign] to size them ALL at once?
You know you can size a column to fit by double-clicking the right resize divider, but did you know that you can press Ctrl + [NumberPad Plus Sign] to size them ALL at once?
You know you can put your favorite programs on your taskbar, but did you know they get automatic keyboard shortcuts with them?
You know you can put your favorite programs on your taskbar, but did you know they get automatic keyboard shortcuts with them?

One final note: if you have a high-DPI (aka “Retina” screen), you’ll want to set the compatibility options on this tool to disable display scaling, so that it can capture the pure pixels it sits over, rather than a scaled version.  If you have a high-DPI monitor, just right-click the shortcut to the program, go to properties, and set it as such:

Disabling high-DPI display scaling for a super-high-def monitor will keep your screen caps looing crisp.
Disabling high-DPI display scaling for a super-high-def monitor will keep your screen caps looing crisp.