After 26 years, you’d think Steve Wilhite, GIF inventor extraordinaire, would stop bickering over the whole pronunciation thing (sorry bud, even the best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry). The file format – commonly pronounced with a hard “G” – has gone from a little Internet sensation to a widespread phenomenon, donned with its very own dictionary definition that is both a noun and a verb. Nowadays, GIFs serve as mainstream digital flip books, providing brief glimpses into our world history, pop culture, and trends within a matter of seconds.
Although you could peruse Google images or robust sites like the aptly titled Giphy for all your entertainment needs, they aren’t going to help you when it comes to crafting and sharing GIFs of your own creation. Luckily, there is a host of terrific apps and additional programs should you decide to avoid our guide on how to make animated GIFs with Photoshop and opt for one of the free, online tools available. Looping scenes of adorable cats and the more heartwarming moments of Breaking Bad will never be a chore again.
Here are our top picks for the best apps to make animated GIFs. Whether you say “GIF” with a soft or hard “G” is entirely up to you (though it really shouldn’t be).
Choose your platform:
ImgFlip – Free
ImgFlip may be a poor choice of name considering the GIF creator deals more so with moving footage than it does still images, but it’s still one of the best Web-based creators available at your fingertips. Video URLs can be pasted in an appropriate link field, or directly uploaded if under 35MB, but there is no need to do so if another user has uploaded the same video previously.
Once uploaded, users can perform a variety of adjustments including resizing the width, changing the FPS, and adding various tags. There is even an option for marking the GIF as NSFW, so your GIF will not appear unless your audience specifically searches for that sort of content. The off-gray interface is underwhelming, with a homepage feed featuring the latest GIFs running the length of the page and options for creating your own GIFs housed on the right-hand side, but the simplicity makes navigation effortless. It’s also quick, generating the GIF in a matter of seconds and presenting all the usual avenues for sharing via Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and the like.
The site is ad-heavy, but not overly obtrusive, and a premium version of the software ($10) is available for those who wish to opt for increased frame rate, resolution and file size. However, the average user shouldn’t need all the added perks associated with the pro model given how short and sweet the bulk of GIFs are these days.
Picasion – Free
The beauty in Picasion is not in the uploading capabilities, but those for capturing photos. In addition to general uploading options for importing photos straight from your computer, Flickr, Picasa, or a URL, Picasion users can allow the application to access and take a series of timed photos using their computer’s webcam. Once capture and spliced together, a process that requires all photos be sized accordingly to the same dimensions, GIFs can be slightly tweaked to a specified width or a maximum speed up to 10 seconds in duration. The site sports an interface that is borderline gimmicky, but rest assured the software works efficiently as intended without any unnecessary strain on your computer.
Picasion doesn’t feature any advanced tools other than an option to add the resulting GIF to your existing library, but the site does include utilities for creating avatars, resizing images, and making something called a “glitter.” Additionally, the software is available in four languages (English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Russian), providing innate functionality for many users without requiring any translation software whatsoever. It’s also laden with ads ushering you to visit risqué feature stories from around the Web, but these can easily be bypassed if you stay within the confines of the uploader and image editor in the upper-right corner of the interface.
Alas, there’s currently no premium version of the software to help you opt out of the ads, so you’ll have to make do for the time being. Still, the various uploader resources and the bundled webcam functionality make Picasion one of the best Web-based solutions for creating personalized GIFs without an external software.
GIFMaker – Free
GIFMaker is certainly not the most industrious of all the Web-based software on our roundup but it’s definitely the most visually appealing. The free site allows users to upload and subsequently stitch together a series of images, from JPEG to GIF, before viewing the final product in a preview window located on the right side of the page. Once the images are uploaded, users can refine adjustments to canvas size (up to 360,000 pixels) and animation speed (up to 10,000 milliseconds). Other adjustments are nonexistent, but the site will allow you to embed your GIF with audio segments captured directly from YouTube if you find yourself in need of a bit of the Beib’s to go with your brief visual clip.
Unlike most of the sites on our list, GIFMaker doesn’t look like it’s bloated with adware and pop-ups. In fact, the site is completely devoid of ads and features a gray, textured background that is as attractive as it is easy to work around. The site even boats several tools for working with GIF images after the fact, such as a handy splitter that allows you to extract individual frames from within an animated GIF and a reverser that will allows you capture and edit a GIF playing backwards. All GIF files, whether captured or uploaded, are immediately available for viewing and download upon completion.
Users may find the software lacking in the text department, meaning you still can’t overlay text like you can in the aforementioned ImgFlip, but the additional GIF utilities provide more than enough flare to draw you in if you’re looking for more than just a simple creation tool.