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How to make a GIF on your iPhone

While the internet has been transformed over the last 30 years into a kind of engineering fairyland, the popularity of low-tech animated GIFs in the age of social media has held up better than most observers have imagined. Whereas in the old days, before 2000, you needed a computer-based graphical program to breathe life into a series of static images, today GIF-making is automated so that all you need is your smartphone. There are several ways to create GIFs on your iPhone, from using Apple’s Live Photos to third-party apps. We’ll show you how it’s done.

Use a live photo

You can create GIF animations easily with live photos on the iPhone. Apple debuted live photos on the iPhone 6S in 2015, and among the feature’s many attributes is that they can be easily transformed into GIFs. A live photo is actually a three-second video — the phone records video for 1.5 seconds before you tap the shutter button to 1.5 seconds after you tap — resulting in a video complete with sound. Here’s how to turn that into a GIF in iOS 14.

  • Shoot a live photo by launching the Camera app and tapping the Bullseye icon at the top-right of the screen so that it shows an animation and the yellow “live” badge appears.
  • To turn the photo into a GIF, launch the Photos app and tap Albums at the bottom of the window.
  • Under Media Types, tap Live Photos.
  • Choose the image you want to work with and Swipe Up.
  • You’ll see choices of Live, Loop, Bounce, and Long Exposure — use either Loop or Bounce for your animation.
  • Loop plays the three-second live photo silently in a loop, successfully turning the live photo into a GIF.
  • Bounce, a different sort of animation, plays the live photo forward and backward.

Choose a GIF in Messages

If you’re not captivated with building and designing your own unique GIF from the ground up, we suggest trying the GIF finder in Apple Messages. Add a GIF from the #images feature in Messages on the iPhone app to discover and share GIFs with friends and family members.

  • Open Messages and enter a contact or tap an existing conversation.
  • Tap Find Images to search for a specific GIF or enter a keyword.
  • Tap the GIF to add it to your message.
  • Tap Send.

Use the Shortcuts app

In iOS 14, if you press down the Camera Shutter button for longer than it takes to take a single shot, the software will immediately launch the video camera instead of the photo burst feature, as it did in earlier versions. If you’d rather do a photo burst with various still frames at complete resolution, you have to press and hold the shutter button while moving it to the left. Be aware that this particular motion takes a while to grow accustomed to. When seen in a sequence, Burst photos mirror a flipbook animation developed to attract action or produce special effects when you don’t feel like shooting a video. They are particularly helpful in designing animated GIFs on your iPhone with the integrated Shortcuts app. We’ve researched how to do it. Follow these steps: 

  • Launch the Shortcuts app — it comes pre-installed on your phone with iOS 12 and later.
  • Search for and download the Convert Burst to GIF shortcut. While you’re at it, also download the Convert Video to GIF shortcut. If either one does not come up in a search, you can find them via Gallery > Photography > Convert Burst to GIF or Gallery > All the GIFs.
  • You may be asked to allow the app access to your photos or videos, so allow it.
  • Run the shortcut by tapping the Arrow at the bottom-right of the window. It will show a list of all your burst photos.
  • Select one, and it is quickly transformed into a GIF.
  • Tap Doneand you will be prompted to either Share the GIF or Save to Photos.

Just use Giphy

The free Giphy app, clearly the most famous GIF generator out today, is a study in visual madness. Facebook now owns Giphy, but the app is still available on the App Store like it always has been. The only distinction is that now you have to sign up for an account, then you must log in with Facebook, your Apple ID, or face recognition. With Giphy, you can pick from a wide range of free GIFs for every purpose you could think up. You can also use your own pictures from your photo gallery or capture a new photograph or video and decorate it with animated stickers, text, filters, and even some sweet augmented reality (AR) effects. Giphy guides you along the way, allotting as much experimentation time as you can stand before officially saving and sharing your GIF.

  • Download Giphy from the App Store.
  • Sign in with Facebook or your Apple ID.
  • Follow the prompt to create a new GIF.
  • Allow Giphy to access your camera and your photos. You can control which photos Giphy can use if you want.
  • Add all sorts of animated elements to your own image.
  • Or use Giphy’s pre-made GIFs in any category you want.
  • Save, upload to Giphy, or share with your friends.

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Jackie Dove
Jackie is an obsessive, insomniac tech writer and editor in northern California. A wildlife advocate, cat fan, and photo app…
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