Here's How You Can Use Tumblr's GIF Search Engine

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Get Started with Tumblr's New Built-in GIF Search Engine

Photo © Fancy Yan / Getty Images

If you're an active member of the Tumblr blogging community, then you know just how big of a deal animated GIF images are on this platform. Besides maybe Reddit and Imgur, Tumblr is the place you want to be if you absolutely love GIFs.

The First GIF Search Engine

Giphy stepped into space not too long ago and gave GIF lovers something they needed -- a search engine for finding GIFs according to what's trending or by entering specific search terms. Emotional reactions and pop cultural trends are extremely popular in particular, and Giphy is still a really great source for this type of content.

From Giphy Now to Tumblr

Tumblr knows it's a top source for GIFs and that its users love to share them in their posts, which is why a native GIF search function was just rolled out. As of now, you can use this cool new feature to:

  • easily search by keyword for GIFs already hosted on Tumblr;
  • insert GIFs into text posts;
  • insert GIFs into other types of posts' captions; and
  • insert GIFs into reblogged posts.

If you regularly go searching for GIFs on other websites and end up saving them to your computer for future use, this little feature is going to save you a lot of time and frustration from using that method.

To see exactly how to use Tumblr's GIF search engine, click through the following slides for screenshots.

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Create a New Text Post and Click the Plus Sign Button

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For this tutorial, I'm going to show you how to use Tumblr's search engine feature on the desktop web. The feature hasn't quite rolled out on its mobile apps just yet, but it would seem appropriate that it would be added in a future update.

From your Tumblr Dashboard page, click the "Aa" button at the top, which allows you to create a new text post. (If you don't have a Tumblr account yet, you can sign up for one for free at

You should see a white plus sign (+) button to the far left, beneath your user photo. When you click it, a collection of formatting features will pop up on the draft page.

Click the one in the middle, labeled "GIF."

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Enter a Keyword or Phrase in the Search Field

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As soon as you click that "GIF" button in the formatting options, a box will pop up with a search field at the top with a grid of popular and trending GIF images beneath it.

You can scroll through what's hot right now if you're not set on a particular search, or you can find more specific results by entering whatever words, phrases, or even hashtags to see what comes up. What's really great about this little feature is that you can see GIFs in full animation as you search, even before you choose one.

In this example, I'm searching for a funny cat GIF, so I'll just do a simple search for "cat." When I find one that I like, I'll click on it to insert it into the post.

At this point, GIF searches don't give you endless scrolling results the way your Tumblr dash or regular searches do. That could change in the future, though.

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Fill in the Title, Description and Tags Before Publishing Your Post

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Now I've got this funny GIF image of a cat with a slice of bread on its face and a pair of animated hands trying to get it off, and hopefully, you have the GIF you want to use for your own post. A credit link is also included, and when you publish the post, the original creator will receive a notification that you shared their GIF.

Keep in mind that this is a text post, which is different from photo posts or photoset posts you can create from the dashboard. The GIFs you use from Tumblr's search function in text posts will appear large inside Tumblr, but on your actual blog (found at it will be reduced to its original size.

It's unclear whether Tumblr will open up this feature to used for photo and photoset posts in the future, but as of right now, you can only add photos to photo posts or photosets from your computer or web links (with the GIF function only available in the caption area). It would make sense that the feature might be expanded to include these post formats in the future since most people use them for GIFs.

For now, you'll have to stick with text posts. You can fill in an optional title, description, and tags or even add more GIFs by again clicking the plus sign button and searching for others.

When you like how your post looks, you can preview it, put it in your queue, or publish it immediately.

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Add GIFs to Posts You Reblog, Too

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Tumblr isn't just about posting your own stuff -- it's a community-driven viral powerhouse of reshared content. Or "reblogged" content in Tumblr-speak.

Users absolutely love to insert reaction GIFs in the captions of other users' posts before reblogging them, and in many cases, it's those GIFs included by other users that make the post so shareworthy. 

You can use the exact same strategy outlined in this tutorial for adding GIFs to other users' posts that you want to reblog. Simply click the reblog button, click inside the caption so your cursor flashes, and look for the plus sign button to the left to add a GIF.

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