Online “visual” reactions have come a long way since the first sideways smiley-face emoticons appeared four decades ago. Animated GIFs – files that show a few seconds of switching motion, like Karmit the Frog waving his hand in excitement – are ubiquitous in text messages, online forums and chat applications, thanks to the meme culture of the Internet.
But animated GIFs don’t have to come from the Internet: you can create your own GIFs from photos and videos on your phone. And you don’t even need extra software to do that. Here is a guide.
A little bit about GIF
When it comes to matching short video clips, animated GIFs have a technical difference from video. Both file types use a series of images to display motion, but the GIF does not include audio, so you see captions on some of them. And the traditional GIF format (dating to 1987) only supports 256 colors, much less than many modern video formats – and even new competitive image formats, such as AV1, also known as AVIF.
Most GIFs are a few seconds long, play automatically on the loop, and join emoji as a versatile way to express yourself online.
And GIFs are image files that make it easy to share them in mail and messages. Some messaging and keyboard applications also include a GIF library for quick access to your conversations.
(What’s less clear about GIFs is how you pronounce the acronym. Like a peanut butter brand, or like a “gift” without tea? The choice is full.)
Create GIF with iOS
There are plenty of third-party programs, but before you go to the App Store, you’ll be able to create GIFs with programs already on your iPhone or iPad. For example, if you’ve got the right shot with Apple’s Live Photos feature (which records the action 1.5 seconds before and after the picture), you can add effects and save it as an animated GIF.
Just go to the Photos app, open an image from the Live Photos album and tap the gray live icon in the upper-left corner to add a loop or bounce effect. To convert a live photo to a GIF, open the iOS Shortcuts app for automating actions or get one from the App Store if you don’t already have one. Find the shortcuts gallery for Mac GIF shortcuts and add them. Tap on the Mac GIF icon and select your live photo to convert.
The Shortcuts Gallery also has Convert Burst to GIF automation that you can use to convert a series of photos taken in Burst mode, and others, called Video to GIF, that convert video clips.
Create GIF with Android
Options for creating animated GIFs from photos on Android-based phones may vary depending on the carrier in the hardware, software and mix. Some Samsung Galaxy phone owners will be able to use the free gallery app to create GIFs for photos and videos.
If you use Google Photos on Android (or iOS), you can create animated GIFs from your selection of pictures. Just tap on Library, then Create Utilities and New. Select animation, select photos, and tap Create.
Burst-like “motion photos” captured on some Google Pixel phones can be converted to animated GIFs on the device or through a third-party application. (Many Samsung Galaxy phones have the same “motion photo” feature.)
For example, to create an animated GIF on the Google Pixel 4 XL, open Google Photos and select the saved image as a motion photo or use the search tool to view the “motion photo”. (Top shot or motion setting must be enabled in the camera app’s settings.) When you find the motion 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. . Next, swipe along a 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 application
Free tools that come with your phone can quickly create a simple GIF, but if you want to add text, have more control over looping, or browse GIF archives for ideas, visit your App Store. Lots of GIF-building apps are available, and the most popular is the free Giphy software for Android and iOS; Giphy also has a large archive of animated GIFs, its own GIF-making tutorials and best practice guide.
If you find Gifi overwhelming, you have plenty of other choices. Many apps are ad-supported but charge a few dollars to remove the ads. These include ImgPlay (for Android and iOS; 8 or less); Video to GIF (iOS; $ 2) and GIF Maker GIF Editor Pro (Android; $ 3). You can also create a GIF from a selfie clip for a really personal reaction shot – or just have fun with related animal behavior.