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Create an Animated GIF from a Quicktime Screen Recording

Projects need documentation. Lately, I’ve been jazzing up my docs with animated gifs made from screen recordings (MOV files) out of Quicktime. Its surprisingly easy!

There are some tools and Terminal commands, but I like the fact that I don’t need to upload something to a website and then download the results. I’m technical, but not super technical, so this was just the right level for me.

I used instructions from a GitHub Gist which details installation and running the conversion commands. Here it is again for posterity, with my own additions from my experience:


The conversion process requires ffmpeg to process the video file and gifsicle to process the animated gif. The following command-line directives use HomeBrew to install and manage the packages:

$ brew install ffmpeg 
# dependency for gifsicle, only required for mountain-lion and above
$ brew cask install x-quartz 
# runs the XQuartz installer
$ mopen /usr/local/Cellar/x-quartz/2.7.4/XQuartz.pkg 
$ brew install gifsicle


There are other tools out there for creating screen recordings, but any Mac user should use the included Quicktime software to get it done. Its super easy and nothing extra needs to be installed.

  1. Open Applications > Quicktime
  2. Choose File > New Screen Recording
  3. Follow the instructions, or click and drag on the section of the screen you wish to record
  4. An optional effect is to have Quicktime highlight the mouse clicks. Give it a try, you might like it.
  5. Save the movie to the directory of your choice


In the Terminal (or any command line interface), navigate to the directory in which your videos are stored. The command I run is this:

$ ffmpeg -i -s 600x480 -pix_fmt rgb24 -r 10 -f gif - | gifsicle --optimize=3 --delay=8 > output.gif

Where is replaced with the name of your video file and output.gif is replaced with the name you wish to give the new animated gif.

A few notes on portions of that command:


And now my online tutorials and client training documentation look great. It can really help to see an animated gif of someone moving through a particular feature — it explains it better to see it in real time rather than just explained in static text.