Please note: We are retiring the free Snagit for Google Chrome extension August 31, 2016. Details here.
This post was written by guest author, Neil Boyd.
With the release of the newest version of Snagit for Chrome, TechSmith included a wonderful GIFt. We were GIFen no clues and it’s still a little bit of a secret but the wonderful Kelly Rush, Product Owner of TechSmith Snagit for Google Chrome, has asked me to GIF some ideas on the feature. Fear not, it will not take long. I’ll be done in a GIF’y.
The term TechSmith uses for creating the animated GIF is “cooking” and so with that in mind, let’s leaf through the Snagit for Chrome Cookbook and glimpse the animated GIF recipe.
Gather all the ingredients. These are both free and always available in the Chrome Web Store. A simple search for “TechSmith Snagit” will reveal both parts. Install them both.
- Part 1: Start a New Screen Recording
- Part 2: Record the screen for 20 seconds or less
Part 1: Start a New Screen Recording
With the latest version of Snagit for Chrome the Screen Recording can be started from one of two places:
Either from the Google Chrome Snagit extension bar button to the right of the Omnibox:
- Click on the Snagit extension button
- Click on Desktop from the bar panel that appears on the right side of the browser window
Or from the TechSmith Snagit app:
- Open the TechSmith Snagit app from the Apps Launcher
- Look to the top left of the TechSmith Snagit Library window just below the logo: Click the + symbol
Part 2: Record the screen for 20 seconds or less
- Having clicked Desktop or +, a new window pops up showing thumbnails of what can be recorded (referred to as sharing): either the whole screen or any open browser window or any open app window. Click on the screen thumbnail to be recorded.
- Click Share
- Record for 20 seconds or less
- Click Stop
When the recording is stopped, the TechSmith Snagit Video Player opens. From here the video recording can be watched. At the bottom right of this window is a blue button.
- Click the Blue button
The blue button hides the secret key, an Animated GIF button.
- Click Animated GIF button
As soon as the Animated GIF button is clicked the GIF starts cooking. When it is finished there is the option to “Grab link” or “Download” the freshly cooked GIF. What also happens is that the freshly cooked GIF is automatically saved to the TechSmith folder on Google Drive.
Tricks and Tips
There is one final magic ingredient in making a Snagit for Chrome animated GIF and that is a sprinkling of imagination combined with a little ingenuity.
Some things to be aware of
Technically, when Snagit for Chrome records a screen it reduces the height of the final video recording to 720px if the screen or window is larger than that size. The width is proportional to the original screen or window. When it cooks the GIF, the maximum height is 480px. This is to have the best looking output with the smallest possible file sizes and easiest processing for the variety of computers, Chromebooks, Windows and Macs, that can use Snagit for Chrome. Currently, you cannot select a small part of the screen and record that. This means that details in a GIF are four times smaller than on a video screen recording. Ideally everything wants to be big and clear to be easily seen and understood in the final animated GIF.
To create the animated GIF, the original screen recording video must have been made using Snagit for Chrome and must be 20 seconds or less from starting the screen recording to stopping the screen recording. Currently you cannot pause a video recording.
When you record the Desktop, the Snagit Stop button is also recorded. When you record a browser or app window the Snagit Stop button is not recorded. When recording a window, the drop-down menus in Google Docs, for example, are technically a separate window. Being a separate window from the original one selected to record means that the menus are not recorded. If you want to show drop-down menus, record the Desktop.
There are subtle differences between Chromebooks and Mac or Windows computers in the way the Stop button shows on full screen Desktop recording.
These are limitations but they can be used to advantage.
- Make use of the keyboard shortcut to start a screen recording. An shortcut can be added via the Keyboard shortcuts link at the bottom of the Chrome Extensions page
- Take advantage of recording Windows and Desktop in full screen mode
- Use simple words and big text
- If you want the cursor to be seen in the final GIF change the computer’s Display Settings to be as small as possible
- If you want the cursor not to be seen in the final GIF make the Display Settings to be as large as possible
- Don’t be afraid to try and try again until it looks as clear as possible. Each go can only be 20 seconds. Once you have the final version you can delete all the trials.
- Write down the sequence of steps you want to perform. It is unlikely there will be time for more than five different steps before the 20 seconds is up. As an example this is one I wrote for my Google Drawing example:
- Would it be possible to
- Create a Drawing
- Undo the changes
- Start a GIF recording
- Redo the drawing to go back to the original
- …and so create a time-lapse-like animated GIF
Animated GIFs are silent movies. They need to be up close and personal. They need to be short and sweet.
- Have you got a nugget of knowledge that can be shown in 20 seconds or less?
- Can it be explained in pictures with no sound?
One thing about recording the video to create the GIF, it does not matter how noisy the background room is because animated GIFs are silent.
Hopefully these examples show that animated GIFs are not just for memes on Tumblr but they can be a useful tool for learning, creativity and understanding. With this great, new feature in Snagit for Chrome, creating animated GIFs is easily accessible to everyone and free.
1. Snagit with Google Docs
This shows how animated GIFs can be added to a Google Docs file and still remain animated.
2. Snagit with Google Sheets
Demonstrating a formula is also animated GIF worthy.
3. Snagit with Google Presentation
This shows the idea of creating an animated GIF as a thumbnail reminder of a presentation or its key points. The GIF can be more easily previewed than by opening the original file. It could be added to a document to make notes about the presentation.
4. Snagit with Google Drawing
This I left as a raw, rough draft of an idea because I felt it demonstrated the technique but left lots of room for improvement. The animated GIF was done by making the Drawing, Undoing all the changes then Redoing all the Undos whilst recording the screen.
So let the fun begin and get animating before the next Snagit for Google Chrome feature comes scroll, scroll, scrolling in.
About the Author
I like to find ways around problems. I like to do things that are not obvious but can be done with a little sideways thinking.
For me, the pleasure is in the journey not just the arrival. It is during the journey that I learn, play and find fun.
You can find me on Google+ at google.com/+neilboyd