Often while trying to explain a problem I have with my PC, a screenshot is not enough.

Is there a tool that lets you capture a section of the screen and save it to a .gif file?

It needs to

  • Work on Ubuntu and Mac.
  • Let you capture a section of the screen not just all of the screen.
  • Be free.
  • Do it has to be directly to a gif? Couldn't be to Video and you can later make the conversion?
    – Braiam
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 14:00
  • 2
    @Braiam i could do that but it would be more convenient if it recorded to gif
    – Qwertie
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 20:44

4 Answers 4


I know this is an old question, but..

Peek is a little open source program designed for doing exactly this. It has packages in most major linux distributions, though I don't know about OS X support.

  • This is awesome. Just what I wanted when I asked the question.
    – Qwertie
    Commented Dec 17, 2017 at 10:24

For a Mac (and Windows) solution, you can try LICEcap

LICEcap can capture an area of your desktop and save it directly to .GIF (for viewing in web browsers, etc).


  • Move the screen capture frame while recording.
  • Pause and restart recording, with optional inserted text messages.
  • Global hotkey (shift+space) to toggle pausing while recording
  • Adjustable maximum recording framerate, to allow throttling CPU usage.
  • Basic title frame, with or without text.
  • Record mouse button presses.
  • Display elapsed time in the recording.

Here is a GIF demonstrating the apps usage on Windows

LICEcap Demo

  • 2
    Licecap is simply the best option if you want to do it on mac or windows. I have a much better screencap in my question here that shows how it works. Feel free to use it if you wish ;)/ Commented Feb 8, 2014 at 9:17
  • Is it working on Ubuntu?
    – danijelc
    Commented Feb 8, 2014 at 14:22
  • No this does not work on Ubuntu unfortunately. I am still looking for one since I would like one as well.
    – aman207
    Commented Feb 8, 2014 at 17:32
  • An rudimentary screen recording app you can find at Linux-based alternative to LICEcap, there is SimpleScreenRecorder too but so far I weren’t able to run it on Ubuntu, so wont suggest an app I couldn’t test or use myself.
    – danijelc
    Commented Feb 8, 2014 at 21:36
  • 2
    Update: LICEcap works fine in wine
    – Qwertie
    Commented Apr 27, 2014 at 4:14

I know you asked for Free, but ...

The Snagit tool from Techsmith (http://www.techsmith.com/snagit.html) has what you need AND a whole lot more for other tasks you have not asked about. I have used this tool for multiple years for multiple purposes: the use-case you describe, creating training videos, annotating defects in software (QA support), creating web elements and much more.

There is a free trial that may get you over your immediate problem (if it is a "one shot" thing, rather than something you are going to be doing often during the next year.

  • Does it work on Ubuntu or Mac?
    – danijelc
    Commented Feb 8, 2014 at 14:22
  • Techsmiths Snagit does run on Mac. Commented Feb 8, 2014 at 14:26
  • Reason been I'm asking it is that main feature requested is to work on Ubuntu and Mac. Snagit is mainly windows tool..
    – danijelc
    Commented Feb 8, 2014 at 14:35
  • 1
    Snagit has added a lightweight way to work on Ubuntu also -- as a Chrome browser addon -- see this description.link Commented Feb 8, 2014 at 20:24
  • Excellent didn’t know Chrome extension of Snagit play nice with Ubuntu. Upvoted
    – danijelc
    Commented Feb 8, 2014 at 21:32

For OS X:

This is a tutorial on how to record with QuickTime and then convert to GIF using ffmpeg. ffmpeg is quick and easy to install using e.g. MacPorts (sudo port install ffmpeg).

  • 1
    tldr - install ffmpeg and gifcicle using brew, record with quicktimethen use the command ffmpeg -i in.mov -s 600x400 -pix_fmt rgb24 -r 10 -f gif - | gifsicle --optimize=3 --delay=3 > out.gif to convert. Commented Jul 27, 2014 at 0:57

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