Despite being over 30 years old, GIFs are used more than ever by people to express themselves on their phone or computer, especially over social media. Let’s get this out of the way. The word is spelled G-I-F and stands for graphic interface format. The creators of the GIF pronounce it JIF like Jif peanut butter. But many (many) people say GIF with a hard G. Technically both are accepted ways to say it, but be prepared: People can be quite passionate about their chosen pronunciations.
Finding GIFs to post is pretty straightforward, but making your own is less so. There are dozens of ways you can make a GIF on your phone or computer without using Photoshop.
If you want to follow step by step as I create GIFs, check out the video at the top of the article from CNET’s How To Do It All YouTube channel.
Turn a video into a GIF online
Plenty of sites specialize in turning a video or set of photos into a GIF, but my go-to is Ezgif. I find it straightforward and it also works on either a phone or a computer. To turn a video file into a GIF start by going to ezgif.com.
Across the top of the site are some tools that let you do create a GIF or modify an existing one. Click on the Video To GIF button and then click the Choose File button to select the video you want. Next, click the blue Upload video. You can monitor the progress of your upload in the bottom of your browser window. Once it’s done, you’ll see a playback window with your video in it.
Now you can adjust the length, the resolution and frame rate. All of these will affect the file size of your GIF. If you don’t want to make any adjustments, click Convert To GIF and enjoy the patient kitty cat animation while your video is transformed into a GIF. If you’re happy with your GIF, hit Save. And you’re done. Seriously, it’s that easy.
However, if you want to take your GIF to the next level, you can scroll back up to the playback window and edit the duration. Look for a short and sweet moment between 2 to 4 seconds. As you play your video, you can select start and end times with the blue Use current position buttons under the video player. As for file size, aim for a GIF that is between 5 and 7 megabytes.
Next, you can customize your GIF: Crop it, resize it, rotate it, add effects. I like this because you can change the color and the background as well as add filters, overlays and text. Again, once you’re happy with the results hit Save and you now have a GIF.
I like Ezgif a lot, but depending on your phone there are a few other ways to make a GIF.
Giphy App for iOS and Android
In Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store there are dozens of apps for turning a video into a GIF, but the one I prefer is Giphy. You can create a GIF as well as post it publicly for others to use and share (if you’re into that).
To start, open the app and tap on the plus sign on the bottom. You can record a video from scratch or use an existing one from your phone.
Next, you’ll see a live preview of your GIF that you can trim and add text, effects or stickers to. When you’re done, tap the purple arrow. Once the GIF is created, you can upload it to Giphy for anyone to use or tap Share GIF to save it to your phone or send to a friend.
Samsung Galaxy phone built-in GIF maker
If you’re a Samsung Galaxy phone owner with an or newer, you can make a GIF using the Edge Panel. Basically there’s a tool on the Edge panel that can make a GIF from whatever is on the screen.
On the, for example, go to Settings to turn the Edge Panel on. There are a bunch of panel themes to choose from. Select the one named Smart Select.
To capture a GIF of what’s onscreen, open the Edge Panel by slowly sliding your finger from the right edge to the left. The first time I tried opening the Edge Panel it took a couple of tries. Once it’s open, tap on the GIF icon. A GIF capture window will appear as an overlay. Whatever is inside the window will become your GIF. You can resize and move the capture window and when you’re ready tap the record button.
I should note that while the screen is being recorded, you’re locked out of navigating your phone. When you’ve got what you want, hit stop. You can share your GIF right away or save it to your Gallery.
iPhone Live Photos aren’t GIFs, but Shortcuts can make one
The iPhone ($1,000 at Best Buy) has native ways to record a GIF, but they’re wonky. Also don’t be fooled by Apple’s Live Photos Looped animation option in the Photos app: This creates a video file, not an actual GIF.
But thanks tothere are a bunch of ways to create GIFs. To start, download and open Shortcuts. On the bottom right, tap the Gallery Button. The gallery has thousands of prebuilt shortcuts you can install to do different things on your phone. You can search fpr the word GIF or just scroll down to the GIF shortcut section.
The specific shortcut you’re looking for is Video To GIF. It has a blue rectangle icon. Simply tap to install it. You can access this Shortcut (and really any Shortcuts you’ve installed) via the Share menu or in the Shortcuts app under the Library tab.
To make a GIF, tap on Video To Gif and choose a video (though it calls it an image). You can then trim the video, though sadly there’s no ability to add stickers or text. When you’re ready, hit Save.
Now the GIF will be on your screen, but it’s not actually saved. Hit the Share button on the top right of the screen to save your GIF to Photos, or send it straight away to a friend.
Originally published July 13 at 5 a.m. PT