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Yohan Lasorsa
Yohan Lasorsa

Posted on • Updated on

3 tips for perfect VS Code video & GIFs recordings

As many of us are spending more time these days recording development screencasts, I thought I would share a few simple tips to improve your recordings of VS Code, whether it's for making videos or GIFs.

1. Set pixel-perfect window size

I struggled a bit with this one problem, before finding an acceptable solution:

How to resize VS Code window to a given pixel size?

When I record a 1080p video, I want my VS Code window to have exactly a size of 1920x1080 pixels for perfect rendering. I know that some premium third-party apps can resize any app window, but I wanted a way to do it that works all the time, regardless of my current monitor setup and OS (I frequently switch between Mac OS and Windows).

Turns out VS Code extensions can't do that, as they have access to neither the Electron nor DOM API. But you can use the Developer Tools directly:

  • Open the command palette with Ctrl+Shift+P (Windows/Linux) or Cmd+Shift+P (Mac)
  • Search for Toggle Developer Tools, then press Enter.
  • In the Chrome Developer Tools window that will show up, select the Console tab and enter this code window.resizeTo(1920, 1080):

Chrome Developer Tools screenshot

This will perfectly resize your current VS Code window to the size you chose 🎉.

2. Enable screencast mode

Did you know that VS Code can highlight your mouse clicks and show the keys being pressed? There's a built-in feature called Screencast Mode that allows you to do that, so your viewers can more easily follow what you're doing. To enable Screencast Mode:

  • Open command palette with Ctrl+Shift+P (Windows/Linux) or Cmd+Shift+P (Mac)
  • Search for Toggle Screencast Mode, then press Enter to activate

With this mode enabled, every mouse click will become circled in red and keystrokes will be shown as an overlay, like that:

Animation showing result of screencast mode

You might then think that showing every keystroke will become quickly tiring, but thankfully there's a setting for that:

  • Open user settings with Ctrl+, (Windows/Linux) or Cmd+, (Mac)
  • Search for Screencast Mode
  • Click on Only show keyboard shortcuts in Screencast Mode checkbox

Now only shortcuts will appear as an overlay, neat! 😎

3. Zoom in

This one might seem trivial but is very often overlooked. I know that when developing, having as much screen estate as possible is important. But for your viewers, readability is even more important, and you should definitely try to zoom in as much as possible your editor window.

Your viewers may use small screens like smartphones, use small windows if they are multitasking or simply having a bad internet connection, forcing them to have a low resolution with compression artifacts. For all these reasons, the more you zoom in, the happier your viewers will be:

  • Use Ctrl+= and Ctrl+- (Windows/Linux) or Cmd+= and Cmd+- (Mac) to zoom in/out

Bonus: Make GIFs

If you're searching for good GIFs recording tools, my favorite ones are LICECap on Windows/Mac and Peek on Linux, both free to use.

That's it for my personal tips, but if you know other useful tips for video recording share it in the comments!


Follow me on Twitter, I would be happy to discuss and take your suggestions!

Discussion (6)

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killshot13 profile image
Michael R. • Edited on

Wow, thanks! This definitely helped me create some nice GIF files by directly overlaying VSCode with LICECap. I didn't know about screencast mode features either until reading this bit.

NOTE:
The issue mentioned below has been resolved, so disregard the rest of this comment except for preserving the continuity of the thread.

One small thing; I could read between the lines, but some of your readers might get hung up on the resize function call if they don't know JavaScript.

Reason? The article instructs to use a code snippet written as window.resize(1920, 1080); needs to be window.resizeTo(1920, 1080). 😅

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sinedied profile image
Yohan Lasorsa Author

Thanks for the catch! I updated the article

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killshot13 profile image
Michael R.

No problem, thanks for the quick response.

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Aaron Powell

I was a LICECap user for many a year but I've switched to ScreenToGif as it has a few more features.

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Yohan Lasorsa Author

Looks like a nice one! Too bad it's OSX only, would love a good cross-platform tool like this