Way back in the day, back before Intel Macs, Safari, Firefox, or even Netscape, one of the two major graphic file formats for the newly minted public internet was GIF (the other being .JPG).
GIFs, the graphic interchange format, is a bitmap image format dating back to the 1980s. It supports up to 8 bits per pixel, up to 256 different colors, as well as animation frames. GIFs are everywhere even though newer formats like .PNG are improvements over the original. GIFs are not dead. They’ve been resurrected in a most unusual way.
GIF Is Not Peanut Butter
There’s a new Mac app available that captures the Mac’s screen. Big whoop, right? I mean, there must be 50 such apps. But this is the only one I know of which records your Mac’s screen as an animated GIF.
It’s called Capture GIF and it works much like any Mac screen capture app, including QuickTime movie player which is already installed on your Mac and free. Click the Record selection from the Menubar drop down menu to start recording. Click Stop Recording to, well, stop the recording.
Capture GIF is simple but not completely devoid of extra features. First, it records any connected display on your Mac. There’s an option to capture the screen pointer (or not). It even records the OS X Menubar, or any area on the Mac’s screen.
Because the technology is GIF-based, you can set the frame rate (FPS) for recording the screen as a movie; really, it’s more of an animated GIF. You also control the delay time and loop count, and it generates files based on the newest version of GIF, GIF89a.
I’m not sure why animated GIFs have made a comeback, but the various app stores have utilities which convert a string of photos into animated, movie-like files; lower quality than H.264, but decent enough to share.
Now, one more thing. Let’s settle how to pronounce GIF. The link above lists both ways. G-IF with a hard G, and JIF, with a J, like the peanut butter. I say it’s a hard G. GIF, rhymes with if, sounds like the G in girl. Why a hard G? GIF is short for graphic interchange format, and graphic uses a hard G, so hard G it is.