What Is a GIF?

How to open, edit and convert GIF files

A file with the GIF file extension is a Graphic Interchange Format file. GIFs (pronounced “gif” or “jiff”) are typically small image files that most people use to create animated images to share on social media. However, a GIF can also be used with large files.

how to use gifs

Although GIF files do not contain audio data, they are often seen online as a way to share video clips. Websites also often use GIF files to display animated objects, such as buttons or header images. Since GIF files are saved in a lossless format, image quality is not degraded when used with GIF compression.

An image in GIF format.

How to open a GIF file

Before looking at the programs mentioned below, first decide what you are looking for. Do you want a program that can play the GIF as an image or video viewer, or do you want something that allows you to edit the GIF?

On almost all operating systems, most web browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, etc.) open GIFs online without problems; you do not need any other programs on your computer. Open local GIFs with the Open or optionally by dragging and dropping into the browser window.

However, with other applications like Adobe Photoshop, while technically the software can open the GIF like it does other graphics, this isn’t really the case. to show the GIF as you expected. Instead, open each frame of the GIF as a separate layer in Photoshop. While it’s great for editing the GIF, it’s not as good for easy playback or viewing as it is in a web browser.

Next to a basic web browser, Windows’ default graphical viewer called Microsoft Windows Photos is probably the easiest way to open them on this operating system.

Some other programs for Windows that can open GIF files include Photoshop Elements and Illustrator from Adobe, CorelDRAW, Corel PaintShop Pro, Canvas and ACDSee from ACD Systems, The Logo Creator from Laughingbird, PaperPort and OmniPage Ultimate from Nuance, and Roxio Creator NXT Pro.

If you’re using macOS, Apple Preview, Safari, and the Adobe programs mentioned above can all work with GIF files. On Linux, use GIMP, while iOS and Android devices (and any desktop OS) can view GIF files in Google Drive.

Some mobile devices open GIF files in their respective default photo apps. It may depend on how old your device is or whether the software is up to date, but most of them can download and display GIFs without you having to install any additional apps.

Considering the number of programs that open GIFs, and the fact that you could have at least two installed right now, chances are the one that’s set to open them by default (i.e. when you double-click or tap two sometimes a ) is not the one you want to use. If you find this to be the case, you can modify this default GIF program.

How to convert a GIF file

Converting a GIF file to a different file format is easier if you use an online file converter. In this way, you don’t need to download a program just to convert some GIFs.

FileZigZag is a wonderful website that converts GIFs to image formats like JPG, PNG, TGA, TIFF, and BMP, but also to video file formats like MP4, MOV, AVI, and 3GP. Zamzar is similar.

The GIF viewers mentioned above may be other options to save the GIF file in a new format. Most of these programs are image editors, so you can probably use them to edit the GIF and save it to a video or image file format.

How to create GIF and download GIF for free

To create your own GIF from a video, use free online GIF-making tools. Imgur, for example, creates GIFs from online videos by letting you choose which section of the video should be a GIF. It even allows you to overlay text.

Along with Imgur, GIPHY is one of the best places to find new and popular GIFs that you can then easily download or share on other websites. You can share the GIF on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and more places, and download it yourself. GIPHY also posts a link to the HTML5 version of each of their GIFs.

The Workflow Automation app available on iPhone and iPad is another easy way to create GIFs from your own photos and videos.

More information on GIF files

Parts of a GIF file can be made transparent to reveal the background behind the image.

Since GIF files generally have a limited number of colors they can display (only 256), other graphic formats like JPG, which can store many millions of colors, work better for full images like those created with a digital camera. Therefore, GIF files are used on websites when a wide range of colors is not required, such as buttons or banners.

GIF files can actually store more than 256 colors, but this involves a process that makes the file much larger than necessary, which JPG can achieve without affecting size as much.

A bit of history about the GIF format

The original GIF format was called GIF 87a and was released by CompuServe in 1987. A few years later, the company updated the format and called it GIF 98a. It was the second iteration to include support for transparent backgrounds and metadata storage.

While both versions of the GIF format allow animations, it was the 98th that included support for delayed animations.

frequent questions

  • How to create a GIF in Photoshop?

    To create a GIF in Photoshop, select Case > To matter > Layered Video Frames and open the video you want to turn into a GIF. Select part of it using Only selected rangethen go to Window > Chronology to preview or make changes.

  • How to edit a GIF?

    Using the free online tool, open the GIF you want to edit in GIF Maker. Then you can rearrange the order of the images, skip the images you don’t want included, resize the GIF, and more. Check out Lifewire’s guide to editing a GIF without Photoshop for more detailed information.

  • How to post a GIF on Facebook?

    Start a new post on Facebook, then go to Add to your post section and select the Later icon (three horizontal dots) > gifs. Choose one of the recommended offers or use the search bar to find a specific GIF to add to your new post.

  • How to create a GIF from a YouTube video?

    Copy the link to the YouTube video you want to use, then go to Paste the link in the required field and select Continue. Once the video loads, you can use the sliders to choose the start and end times for your new GIF, crop it, add stickers or captions, or add special effects like blur.

  • How to put a GIF on Google Slides?

    To select Insert > Image. You can choose to upload the file from your computer or search the web for a suitable GIF. Once you find the GIF you want to use and insert it into your presentation, you can adjust its size and position on the slide.

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