Saving Images as GIFs in GIMP

How to Save Images as GIFs in GIMP

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Much like Photoshop, files that you create in GIMP are saved in XCF, GIMP's native file format that allows you to build up images with multiple layers. However, you may want to save your image in a different format when you've finished working on it. For example, a GIF file might be appropriate if you’re using a simple graphic in a web page or an animation. GIMP can be used to produce GIF files with these easy steps.

The 'Save as' Dialog

In Gimp, the Save As or the Save a Copy dialog does not allow to save in a GIF format. Gimp will only save in the following formats: XCF, BZ2, XCFBZ2, GZ, XCFGZ, and XZ. To save an image in the GIF format, you’ll have to use the Export As option instead.

Export the File

The Export File dialog will open if you're saving a file with features that aren't supported by GIF, such as layers or other image formats. Unless you've specifically set up your file to be an animation, you should select Flatten Image. GIF files use an indexed color system with a maximum limit of 256 colors. If your original XCF image contains more than 256 colors, you’ll be offered two options. You can Convert to indexed using default settings, or you can Convert to grayscale. In most cases, you'll want to select Convert to indexed. You can click the ​Export button when you've made the necessary selections. Below is a step-by-step on exporting as a GIF.

  1. Select File > Export As.

    The File menu in Gimp is selected.
  2. Enter your desired filename in the Name field.

    Entering a filename in the Export image dialog box in Gimp.
  3. Select Select File Type (By Extension) then scroll down and select GIF image under File Type.

    Viewing the file types that can be exported in Gimp.
  4. Select Export.

    Selecting the GIF format to export to in Gimp.
  5. This step is very simple as long as you're not saving an animation. Select Interlace under the GIF Options. This will produce a GIF that loads progressively, but it's unnecessary in most cases.

    • The other option is to add a GIF comment to the file, which could be your name or information about the image that you might need in the future. Place a check in the box next to GIF comment, then enter the desired text.
    • If just saving a single image, uncheck Loop forever under the Animated GIF Options.
    The Export Image as GIF dialog box in Gimp.
  6. Select Export.

Saving as a JPEG or PNG

You can now use the GIF version of your image on a web page. If you want to make any changes, you can return to the XCF version, make your amends, and re-export it as a GIF file. If your GIF results in a poor quality image with lots of spots and obvious areas of different colors, you might be better off saving your image as a JPEG or PNG file. GIFs aren’t suited for photographic images because they're limited to supporting only 256 individual colors. Saving in either format will also require using the Export As option.