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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

Taking screenshots of iOS features in motion

Note: This story has not been updated for several years.

We tech writers need to think about screenshots more than most people, it’s true. While writing up a story this week, I realized I needed a screenshot of a particularly hard-to-capture feature: swipe typing with SwiftKey. The third-party keyboard lets you enter words by swiping from key to key without ever lifting your finger, and it illustrates this by showing you a trail of where your finger has been. Trouble is that trail “evaporates” quicker than I can take a screenshot. What to do?


Good old QuickTime Player to the rescue! Since Yosemite, you’ve been able to use the app to record the screen of your iOS device. Just plug your iPhone or iPad into your computer with the USB-to-Lighting cable, open up QuickTime Player, and choose File > New Movie Recording. Then from the dropdown menu next to the Record button, choose your phone from under Camera.

Voilà! Now everything you can see on your phone’s screen is mirrored in QuickTime Player; just hit record to create a screencast. For my purposes, I simply selected a frame of my recording that showed the keyboard in mid-swipe and took a screenshot of the QuickTime Player window. But for an animated GIF version of the screen capture, you can just export the screencast and run the resulting movie through GIF Brewery, as I’ve done here. In my experience, it’s by far the easiest way to create screenshots of iOS’s more kinetic features.

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at or reach him by email at His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is out now.]

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