How to Make a GIF in Photoshop

Create the web's most popular form of expression

Photoshop timeline

Distil/Pexels

No matter where you stand on the debate for how to pronounce their name, GIFs have become a mainstay in internet-based culture and communication. From animated reactions to memes to easily accessible video without a streaming service, GIFs are super popular and useful. So if you know how to create a GIF in Photoshop, you can make the web a more personal place for you. Here's how to do it.

Note: The following guide focuses on Adobe Photoshop CC version 20.0.4. Most methods will also work with older versions of Photoshop, but the methodology may not be as exact.

How to Create a GIF in Photoshop With Video

There are a number of great services that can create GIFs from video for you, but if you can't get online or just want to understand the nuts and bolts of the process behind it, learning how to create a GIF in Photoshop is a great notch in your belt of web skills. Creating one from a video is a great place to start.

  1. Grab the video that you want to turn into a GIF. You could rip it from YouTube if you don't plan to use it for anything commercial, but there are a number of websites like Pexels, which have a great number of royalty free videos you can use with and without attribution. 

  2. Open Photoshop if you haven't already, then navigate to File > Import > Video Frames to Layers.

  3. Locate and select the video you want to convert and select Open.

  4. Either select From Beginning to End, if you want to convert the whole video, or use the sliders for Selected Range Only to define a portion of the video you want to import.

  5. When you're happy with your choice, select OK.

    This process can take a long time if you're trying to convert a long video or if your computer is on the slow side. We would recommend selecting no more than 20 seconds of video.

  6. Select Window > Timeline. This should bring all of the layers into the Timeline as individual frames. 

    If it doesn't, or you're using an older version of Photoshop which requires it to be commanded manually, select the four-line menu icon in the bottom-right of the main window and select Make Frames from Layers.

  7. Use the Timeline media controls to preview your GIF. If there are any frames you don't want included, you can drag and drop them into the trash can icon in the bottom-left. Alternatively, select them, then select the trash can icon.

    Photoshop Timeline
  8. Make any changes you’d like to the color, contrast, or even make each frame black and white if you choose, by selecting individual layers from the Layers menu.

    You can alter multiple frames at once by selecting multiple layers, but make sure not to merge them together if given the option.

  9. You can also adjust the time each frame takes before transitioning in the Timeline window. You can set that to whatever you like for smoother or choppier transitions. Make sure it has “Forever” listed in the bottom-left if you want the GIF to loop.

    If you change your GIF in a way you don't like, press Ctrl (or CMD) Z to undo your action. Alternatively press Ctrl (or CMD) +Alt+Z to take several undo steps.

  10. When you're happy with the GIF you've created, it’s time to save it. Select File > Export > Save for Web (Legacy), or press Ctrl (or CMD)+Shift+Alt+S.

  11. There are a myriad of potential settings you can choose and play around with, but we would recommend the following: Set the Preset to GIF 128 Dithered and Colors to 256. If you are concerned about file or physical size, use the Height and Width settings to adjust the size of the GIF to better suit your needs.

    Select Forever in the Looping Options if that's what you want the GIF to do.

  12. When you're happy with your settings, select Preview to see what the GIF will look like in a browser. If it looks good to you, select the Save icon, then choose a name and destination for your new GIF.

    GIF preview

Create a GIF in Photoshop With Photos


If you have a series of images you want to turn into a GIF, the process is much the same as with a video, except you won't need to pull the frames into layers first. Here's how to get started.

  1. Photoshop has a great tool for grabbing all the images you want to use and getting them ready for you. Select File > Scripts > Load Files into Stack.

  2. From there, select Browse and navigate to the folder your images are in. Select the files you want to import and select Open. Then select OK.

    If you don't see any files, it’s possible Photoshop has defaulted to look for a different kind of file type. Use the selection in the bottom right-hand corner to select All Files

  3. After a moment or two, you should see your new canvas with all of your images loaded into separate layers. Select Window > Timeline.

    Photoshop GIF timeline
    OzgurDonmaz/Getty Images​

    If you like, you can use the Attempt to Automatically Align Source Images toggle to have Photoshop try to line up all the pictures for you. It can be handy, but isn't required in most cases.

  4. Select all of the new layers. In the Timeline window, select the drop-down icon, then select Create Frame Animation

    If you can't see the Layers window, select Window > Layers to open it.

  5. Select the four-line menu icon in the right-hand corner of the Timeline window and select Make Frames From Layers.

  6. Select the play icon in the bottom left-hand corner to see how your new GIF animation plays. If it looks to be playing in reverse, select the four-line menu icon again, then select Reverse Frames.

  7. Make any adjustments you might like to each of the individual images by adjusting their layers. You can also change the length of time each image will display in the animation using the numbered controls under each image in the Timeline window.

  8. When you're happy with the GIF you've created, save it; select File > Export > Save for Web (Legacy), or press Ctrl (or CMD)+Shift+Alt+S.

  9. Set the Preset to GIF 128 Dithered and Colors to 256. If you’re concerned about file or physical size, use the Height and Width settings to adjust the size of the GIF to better suit your needs.

    Select Forever in the Looping Options if that's what you want the GIF to do.

  10. When you're happy with your settings, select Preview to see what the GIF will look like in a browser. If it looks good to you, select the Save icon, then choose a name and destination for your new GIF.

How to Make a Photoshop Animation With Text

If you want to animate a GIF with text and nothing else (you can always stick text over individual layers when making a GIF with images) the steps are much the same, but you have to create the layers yourself.

  1. Open Photoshop and select File > New, choose the dimensions you want your eventual GIF to be, then select OK.

  2. Add text to the image and make any adjustments to it you like, including color and size.

    GIF Text
  3. If you want your GIF to include the same text on the next frame but in a different size or color, press Ctrl (or CMD)+J to duplicate the layer. If you want to have the next frame say something else, select the New Layer icon in the Layers window, second from the left at the bottom.

    Repeat this step as many times as you need for as many frames as you want. 

  4. When you're happy with your various layer creations, select Windows > Timeline, then select the drop-down icon in the middle and select Create Frame Animation

  5. Select the four-line menu icon in the right-hand corner of the Timeline window and select Make Frames From Layers.

  6. Select the play button in the bottom left-hand corner to see how your new GIF animation plays. Make any adjustments you might need to the times the frames display using the number beneath each frame.

    If you want the GIF to loop continuously, select Forever in the bottom left-hand corner.

  7. When you're happy with the GIF you've created, save it; select File > Export > Save for Web (Legacy), or press Ctrl (or CMD)+Shift+Alt+S.

  8. Set the Preset to GIF 128 Dithered and Colors to 256. If you’re concerned about file or physical size, use the Height and Width settings to adjust the size of the GIF to better suit your needs.

    Select Forever in the Looping Options if that's what you want the GIF to do.

  9. When you're happy with your settings, select Preview to see what the GIF will look like in a browser. If it looks good to you, select the Save icon, then choose a name and destination for your new GIF.