The animated GIF is the language of the internet.
In reality, a GIF is nothing more than another image file format. It’s not even the best file format. There are others that are more efficient and others still that offer higher quality. However, the GIF has become the preferred file format of animated image creators.
That simple selection has turned the file format into one of the pillars of the internet. You see GIFs on every social media feed, every major website, and every media message board. GIFs of animals, live news…there are some movies and shows that are only popular because of the GIFs they spawned.
It’s easy to find thousands of GIFs to use wherever you want, but what happens when it comes time to make your own? The process of GIF creation is one of those things that most people are completely in the dark on. The general assumption is that it’s a complicated process.
However, that’s not quite the case. Creating complicated GIFs can be tricky, but it’s incredibly easy to make basic ones. Truth be told, it’s not that hard to make slightly more elaborate ones. In fact, the process is so easy that you can even make them on your iPhone.
Starting is really just a matter of finding the right app and following a series of simple steps. With that in mind, here’s what you need to know about making animated GIFs using only your iPhone.
If you want to make high-quality GIFs, you need Photoshop (or a Photoshop equivalent).
Truth be told, most people who make a GIF don’t need Photoshop. Most internet GIFs are incredibly simple and don’t need to be anything more.
What Photoshop offers, though, is incredible flexibility. Photoshop allows you to assemble multiple frames into an animated sequence. In its simplest form, this means you import a video, trim the frames, and turn them into a shortened animated GIF.
Where that process becomes incredible is when you view your many options. Elaborate font, enhanced photo manipulation, After Effects importing…Photoshop lets you make some truly incredible GIFs.
Just search for “High-Quality GIFs” to see what we’re talking about. Sharing custom GIFs of that quality is a sure way to catch people’s attention on social media.
The problem is that it takes much more time to make gifs like that. So, if you’re just looking to share a moment or a quick joke, you probably shouldn’t consider Photoshop your first choice for GIF creation.
However, if you’re willing to learn, then you can follow Adobe’s built-in instructions for making an animated GIF in Photoshop. As long as you’re not diving into the full set of features, the basic process should only take you an hour or so to learn (at most).
The only other thing to consider is that Photoshop is generally easier to use on a desktop. The iPhone version is very good, but it’s another factor that might lead you to considering alternative methods.
The Live Photo Method
If you have iOS 11 installed, then you have access to a pretty solid GIF maker.
Yes, that update allows Apple users to turn Live photos into animated GIFs. The great thing about this feature is that it’s native (i.e. handy), easy-to-use, and surprisingly versatile. It also lets you start making animated GIFs without having to leave your photo album.
The bad news is that it’s somewhat…limited. As you may know, Live Photos allows you easily turn simple images into short videos. Converting those photos into a GIF means that you can’t really customize them all that much. They’re more or less going to be the original Live Photo in GIF form.
Is that a bad thing? It really depends. Most Live Photos are GIF-ready, but others don’t survive the transition as well. While GIF makers can help you spruce them up a bit more, the Live Photo method limits your customization options.
What this means is that it’s hard to rely on this method as your lone GIF creation method. However, if you’re fine with what Live Photos offers, then you’ll here’s how you use that feature.
- Open Photos and go to your Albums.
- Choose your Live Photos album.
- Select the Live Photo that you want to turn into a GIF.
- Swipe up on the photo screen to access animation options.
- Choose your preferred animation options. When you’re done, the result will be in a new Photo Album called “Animated.”
We’re going to talk about the other third-party GIF makers in a second, but let’s spend a little time talking about Giphy.
Giphy is the biggest name in GIFs. That might sound ridiculous, but it’s true. Giphy is often the source of the GIFs you see in your text messages, on social media, and wherever GIFs are available as a stock feature.
Giphy’s huge library is part of the reason it’s so popular. Type in just about any subject, and Giphy will show you an array of GIF options. It’s incredibly convenient and reason enough to not make your own GIFs most of the time.
If you do want to make them, though, Giphy is a pretty good way to do so. Via the Giphy app, you can turn just about any video into a fairly impressive looking GIF. In fact, we’d say that Giphy might just be the best option in terms of effort you put into your creation vs. the results you get from that effort.
Here’s a basic set of instructions for using the Giphy app.
- It starts with a video. Record or download whatever video you want to turn into a GIF. You can also use the app to record a video.
- Use the camera roll icon to select your desired video.
- If necessary, tap the video. This will let you “scrub” the video in order to find the section you want to turn into an animated GIF.
- Select your desired filters, frames, and animations (*Note: This is where Giphy shines. It offers an array of possibilities and lets you customize most of the available options).
- Tap “Next” and app will generate your GIF. From that screen, you can start sharing it.
Those are the basics of using Giphy. There’s quite a bit more the app can do, so don’t be afraid to take your time with it.
The Best Third-Party GIF Apps
There’s no shortage of third-party maker apps out there. In fact, we can’t begin to imagine what a new app in this category would have to feature to truly stand out. There are so many GIF-making apps that are easy to use, versatile, and often cheap (or free).
Since there are too many apps out there that are honestly worth using, we’re going to focus on an elite group of apps that each have something special to offer.
GIFX (Best Overall Free GIF Maker)
For most people, GIFX is all they’ll need for their creative needs.
What makes this app special is the app’s range of features and devotion to professional effects. You can make goofy GIFs in GIFX, but you can also use the app to make some fairly impressive motion images. Said images can be found in the app’s collection of creations from featured artists.
On top of that, GIFX can be learned in mere minutes. Other apps may be the universal standard, but in terms of overall features, GIPHX should probably be your go-to app.
Giphy Stickers (Best AR GIF App)
Giphy Stickers is an admittedly silly app, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
While it’s not a GIF maker in the traditional sense, Stickers lets you post GIFs in the world around you using AR technology. You just search the Giphy library, drag and drop them onto your AR world, and share the chaos you create (if you want).
Honestly, though, the sharing feature is the least interesting part of this app. It’s just a great way to have fun with GIFs.
GifLab (GIF Creation for Beginners)
If you’re opposed to learning complicated creations – or you want something that is as simple as it gets – GifLab is a pretty good option.
GifLab’s main feature is its simplicity. Anyone can create simple Gifs using this simplified software. That makes it a very appealing option for low-level users.
The reason that we hesitate to recommend GifLab is that it’s not a free app. As such, it’s almost easier to recommend downloading a more “complicated” free app and just learning the ropes as you go. Still, it’s an alternative.
Tumblr (Best for Active Tumblr Users)
It might sound strange to recommend Tumblr’s GIF creator when you can easily share created GIFs, but this app has a few things going for it.
First off, Tumblr has a very active GIF community. In fact, it’s become a popular destination for GIF makers wanting to share their works. That popularity is a big part of the reason why Tumblr bothered to add a GIF maker to their app in the first place. As such, it’s easy to recommend that Tumblr users go straight to the source.
It doesn’t hurt that the app itself is pretty good. It’s free, creating a GIF is very simple, it boasts a decent array of features, and Tumblr is generally fun to use.
GIF Keyboard (Best GIF Messaging App)
It’s hard to know how seriously you should take GIF Keyboard, but it is a seriously fun app.
As a GIF creator, GIF Keyboard isn’t the best in class. However, it does add an extremely helpful selection of GIFs to most messaging keyboards you use. Turning your keyboard into an elaborate GIF generation might be overkill for some, but we’re willing to bet others are excited by that idea.
Give GIF Keyboard a shot and see how much you actually get out of it. It’s free, so you’ve got nothing to lose but a little free time.
Giffer Pro (Best Premium GIF Maker)
Somewhere between Photoshop and Giphy is Giffer Pro.
While it’s not quite as versatile as Photoshop and After Effects, Giffer Pro is an incredibly deep creation app
Giffer Pro lets you easily make simple GIFs, but that’s not why you pay for it. The app’s true calling is as a top-tier animated GIF maker. From controlling the speed of individual frames to cinematography features, Giffer Pro is for the GIF maker that wants their creations to look professional.
For some, there is no point to paying for a GIF maker at all. For those with the need, though, this is a great app.
VSCO (Best GIF Maker That is Much More)
VSCO’s isn’t primarily designed to be a GIF maker. That feature came later. To be honest, it’s not even a world-class GIF maker app.
However, VSCO is a pretty good option for mobile video editors who are also interested in making GIFs. VSCO is a fairly versatile editing app that lets you turn otherwise simple mobile videos into something much more cinematic. There are many apps like it, but few are as trusted and popular as VSCO.
VSCO is perfect for the GIF maker who wants to do more or the editor who wants to make GIFs within a full editing app.
5 Seconds App (Best GIF Personalization App).
This isn’t the most popular animated GIF maker in the world, but it’s one of the most beloved amongst those who have downloaded it.
This app is really all about making GIFs that feel at home on social media channels. That means that this app lets you use a variety of filters, easily customize existing gifs, and easily add text and stickers to your GIFs.
All things considered, this is the app that you want to download if you’re looking for a GIF app that will help you create trendy looking GIFs with ease.
Once you start making your own GIFs, you’ll never stop looking for raw footage. The animated GIF is one of the cornerstones of the internet, and contributing to the strength of that cornerstone has never been easier.