how to make a gif: how to make your own animated GIFs

Online “visual” reactions have come a long way since the first sideways smiley face emoticon appeared four decades ago. Animated GIFs — those files showing a few seconds of jerky motion, like that of Kermit the Frog waving his arms excitedly — are ubiquitous in text messages, online forums and chat apps, thanks to the meme culture of Internet.

But animated GIFs don’t have to come from the internet. You can create your own GIFs from your phone’s photos and videos. And you might not even need any additional software to do it. Here is a guide.

A bit about GIFs
Although they look like short video clips, animated GIFs have technical differences from videos. Both file types use a series of images to show motion, but GIFs don’t include audio, hence the captions you see on some of them. And the traditional GIF format (which dates back to 1987) only supports 256 colors, which is far less than many modern video formats – and even newer competing image formats like AV1, also known as GIF. ‘AVIF.

Most GIFs last a few seconds, automatically loop, and have joined emojis as versatile ways to express yourself online.

And GIFs are image files, which can make it easier to share them in emails and messages. Some messaging and keyboard apps even include a GIF library for quick access to your conversations.

(What’s less clear about GIFs is how you pronounce the acronym. Like the brand of peanut butter, or a “gift” without the t? The choice is tough.)


Create a GIF with iOS


Third-party programs are plentiful, but before heading to the App Store, you might be able to create a GIF with programs already on your iPhone or iPad. For example, if you captured a worthwhile photo with Apple’s Live Photos feature (which records the action 1.5 seconds before and after the photo), you can add effects and save it as Animated GIF.

Just go to the Photos app, open an image from the Live Photos album, and tap the gray Live icon in the top left corner to add an effect like Loop or Bounce. To convert Live Photo to GIF, open the Shortcuts iOS app to automate actions, or get it from the App Store if you don’t already have it. Find the Make GIF shortcut in the shortcut gallery and add it. Tap the Create GIF icon and select your Live Photo to convert.

The shortcut gallery also contains a Convert Burst to GIF automation that you can use to transform a series of photos taken in burst mode and another called Video to GIF that converts video clips.

Create a GIF with Android
Options for creating animated GIFs from photos on Android phone may vary depending on the hardware, software, and carrier in the mix. Those with select Samsung Galaxy phones can use the GIF-making features for photos and videos in the free Gallery app.

If you use Google Photos on Android (or iOS), you can create an animated GIF from a selection of your photos. Just tap Library, then Utilities and Create New. Choose Animation, select the photos and press Create.

Burst “moving photos” captured on some Google Pixel phones can be converted to animated GIFs directly on the device or with a third-party app. (Many Samsung Galaxy phones have a similar “live photo” feature.)

For example, to create an animated GIF on a Google Pixel 4 XL, open Google Photos and select an image saved as an animated photo, or use the search tool to search for “animated photos”. (The Camera app settings must have the Top Shot or Motion setting enabled.) When you find an animated photo you want to use, select it and swipe up or tap the three-dot More menu in the upper right corner of the screen. Then swipe along the row of icons to export. Tap Export and select the GIF option to save the new file to your photo library.


Use a dedicated GIF app


The free tools that come with your phone can quickly create a simple GIF, but if you want to add text, have more control over the loop, or even browse GIF archives for ideas, visit your app store. Many GIF maker apps are available, and the freeware Giphy for Android and iOS is one of the best known. Giphy also has a huge archive of animated GIFs, its own GIF-making tutorial, and best practices guide.

If you find Giphy overwhelming, you have plenty of other choices. Many apps are ad-supported but charge a few dollars to drop ads. They include ImgPlay (for Android and iOS; $8 or less); Video to GIF (iOS; $2) and GIF Maker GIF Editor Pro (Android; $3). You can even create a GIF from a selfie clip for a truly personal reaction photo – or just have fun with some relatable animal behavior.