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What is a GIF File and How Do You Use It?

Last updated on January 23rd, 2024 at 02:17 am

This post explains what a GIF file is and how to open it. You’ll also learn how to create one and compress it.

GIF stands for Graphic Interchange Format.

A GIF file is popularly used for graphics and logos, among others.

These days GIFs are popularly used over social media platforms. They are often used as memes.

In this post, you’ll learn some important facts about GIFs.

GIF is a basic image, capable of supplying a maximum of 8 bits per pixel.

It can also support up to 256 colors.

You can create a GIF file by combining images and frames. When this is done. the result is a simple animation.

GIF History

Many would be surprised by GIF’s history. You may be thinking image formats like JPEG and TIFF appeared before GIF.

Truth is GIF is the first image format to feature on websites.

GIF was created by Steve Wilhite and his team in 1987 at Compuserve.

GIF had an important function back in the day. It helped speed up the downloading of large images.

It also introduced a colour format for images, replacing Compuserve’s black-and-white image format.

Over the years, GIF evolved into a popular image format offering animation functions.

As early as 1995, it supported loop animation.

Facebook offered support for GIFs beginning in 2015. Instagram followed suit in 2018.

GIF, however, lost out to JPEG as the image format of choice. JPEG has better compression efficiency and superior color depth.

JPEG, these days, is preferred over GIF for photographic images.

Lossless Compression

The GIF format offers lossless compression. There isn’t quality loss when an image is compressed into a GIF.

Back then, the format was preferred when it came to sending and storing graphic files.


Memes are animated GIFs found on some websites. They’re mostly popular on social media platforms.

Memes are a number of related images combined to give the illusion of an MP4 video.

Meme GIF file

They have a low resolution. They don’t come with sound, too.

Most of these memes are humorous clips shared by social media users.

GIF Advantages

GIFs can be easily created. They can be shared on social media platforms and messaging apps like WhatsApp.

Since they come with limited colours, the file size is small. It allows for faster loading on websites.

As mentioned earlier, GIF is a lossless format. So, image quality isn’t compromised when compressed.

GIF Disadvantages

GIF supports only a limited number of colours, namely, a maximum of 256. As such some GIFs may have a low-quality look and may appear blurry.

A combination of multiple images in animated GIFs makes editing difficult in some instances.

GIFs are known to load fast. However, they don’t work well with a slow Internet connection. Image display is delayed and the appearance may not be up to the mark on web pages.

How to Open a GIF File

How do you view a GIF file? You don’t need a special program to open a GIF file.

You can open a GIF file through any modern web browser like Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Microsoft Edge.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Create a GIF file?

You can do it using an online GIF maker. One such service is the EZ GIF Maker. All you have to do is upload your images to the site.

Over at this site, you can also convert a video clip to GIF.

How Do You Compress a GIF File?

Sometimes a GIF may come with a large file size. It may not be suitable to be used over the web. You need image files with small sizes to enable web pages to load faster.

If you have such a large-sized GIF, you can reduce its size by using a GIF compressor.

One such free online service is available at

Compress GIF file

It allows you to set the compression level.

We managed to compress a 2.2 MB GIF to 549kb with this tool.

It is done without any noticeable loss of quality, too.

Where Can I Find Free GIF Images?

You may want to use a GIF on your website or social media platform to make a statement.

If so, there are a number of websites from where you can download free GIFs.

Among them is GIPHY. You can search for the theme of your GIF at the site. Within minutes you’ll be presented with dozens of GIFs that you can download.

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