Online “visual” responses have come a long way since the The first side smiley emoticon appeared four decades ago. Animated GIFs – those files that show choppy movements for a few seconds, like those of Kermit the frog is rowing his arms excited – are ubiquitous in text messages, online forums, and chat apps thanks to the Internet’s meme culture.

But animated GIFs don’t have to come from the internet: you can create your own GIFs from the photos and videos on your phone. And you may not even need additional software to do that. Here is a guide.

While they are similar to short video clips, they are animated GIFs have technical differences from videos. Both file types use a series of images to indicate movement, but GIFs don’t contain audio, hence the subtitles 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 AVIF.

Most GIFs are a few seconds long, play automatically in a loop, and have emojis added as a versatile way to express yourself online.

Credit…Apple; tenor

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

(What is less clear about GIFs is the pronunciation of the acronym. Like the peanut butter brand or like “gift” without the t? The choice is difficult.)

Third-party programs are abundant, but before you head to the App Store, you might be able to create a GIF using programs that are already on your iPhone or iPad. For example, if you have a worthy shot with Apple’s Live photos Function (which records the action 1.5 seconds before and after the picture) allows you to add effects and save them as an animated GIF.


Just go to the Photos app, open a picture 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 the live photo to a GIF, open the iOS connections App for Automation of actions, or Get it from the App Store if you don’t have it yet. Find that Links gallery for the shortcut Make GIF and add it. Tap the Make GIF icon and select your live photo to convert.

The Shortcuts Gallery also includes a Convert Burst to GIF automation that lets you do a number of Photos taken in burst mode and another one called Video to GIF that converts video clips.

The options for creating animated GIFs from photos on an Android-based phone can vary in the mix depending on your hardware, software, and carrier. Users with certain Samsung Galaxy phones may be able to the GIF creation functions for photos and videos in the free gallery app.

If you’re using Google Photos on Android (or iOS), you can get a animated GIF from a selection of your pictures. Just tap Library, then Utilities, and Create New. Select Animation, select the photos and tap Create.


The burstlike “Moving Photos” Pictures taken on some Google Pixel phones can be converted to animated GIFs directly on the device or using a third-party app. (Many Samsung Galaxy phones have a similar one “Moving photo” Characteristic.)


For example, to create an animated GIF on a Google Pixel 4 XL, open Google Photos and select an image saved as a moving photo, or use the search tool to search for “moving photos.” (The top shot or motion setting must be turned on in the camera app’s settings.) When you find a moving photo that you want to use, select it and swipe up or tap the three-dot menu “More” “in the upper right corner of the screen. Next, swipe down the row of icons to export. Tap on Export and choose the GIF option to save the new file to your photo library.

The free tools that came with your phone can quickly create a simple GIF. However, if you want to add text, have more control over looping, or even browse GIF archives for ideas, check out your App Store. Lots of GIF creation apps available, and the free Giphy software for Android and iOS is one of the most famous; Giphy also has a huge archive of animated GIFs, its own GIF creation tutorial and a Best Practice Guide.


If you find Giphy overwhelming, you have many other options. Many apps are ad-supported, but they charge a few dollars to clear the 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 really personal reaction shot – or just have fun with relatable animal behavior.

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