5 Ways to Create Original Animated GIFs Without Photoshop

Author’s Note: This blog post was updated to include information on how to add GIFs to Facebook, Twitter, and popular content management systems. 


Who said GIFs are just for fun? They’re incredibly useful for businesses and marketers.

Aside from social media, companies are incorporating GIFs in paid advertising campaigns on social media platforms, in customer support articles on their website, on landing pages and microsites, and in email marketing campaigns.

Why?

Unlike static photos or videos, GIFs are quick and easy to make, and they require no additional software or plugins. Better yet, GIFs can significantly improve the user experience on your blog or website. Unlike a video, GIFs generally have small file sizes, allowing them to load faster and with better quality.

They can also reduce user friction. Think about it: instead of clicking on an embedded video tutorial on how to use a feature, you can share a series of short GIFs that’ll educate a viewer in half the time.

If you’re interested in incorporating GIFs into your marketing toolkit but don’t have any experience with Photoshop, I’ll show you how to use five free tools to create original GIFs.


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GIPHY’s GIF Maker

GIPHY, the company with the world’s largest library of animated GIFs, now offers a GIF Maker that is free and so much fun to use. GIF Maker allows you to create animated GIFs from video files, YouTube links, existing GIFs, and even still photos.

Here’s How It Works:

Drag and drop a video file, or enter a video URL from YouTube, Vimeo, or another GIPHY page. You can also upload a series of photos to create an animated photo slideshow.

Once you’ve uploaded your file, you’ll be taken to a screen where you can begin editing your GIF.

Next, trim your video to a duration of about 2-6 seconds. This will ensure that your file size is small enough to load quickly on social media and blogging platforms.

Using GIPHY's GIF Maker

If you’d like, you can add a caption, stickers, or drawings to your GIF. Once you’re happy with your GIF, upload it, and add a couple tags to make it easier for other people to find.

Using GIPHY's GIF Maker

And voila! You’ve made your GIF! You can now save it and upload it to your website or blog.

Using GIPHY's GIF Maker

What I Like About GIPHY’s GIF Maker

  • It’s easy to use and navigate
  • Instructions on how to edit the length of your GIF is clear. There are two separate bars for start time and GIF duration.
  • The customizable features (i.e. Animated captions, stickers, etc.) are robust and contemporary.
  • Allows you to create GIFs from several different sources, including static images.

What I Don’t Like About GIPHY’s GIF Maker

  • GIPHY’s GIF Maker doesn’t give you the option of making your GIFs private. Keep that in mind if you create GIFs of your colleagues or your product.

As a free tool, it’s simple to use and has the exact feature I’m looking for. GIPHY’s GIF Maker is definitely a tool I’ll highly recommend.

GIFs.com

Another super-simple tool is GIFs.com, an online tool that turns YouTube videos, Vine videos, and Instagram videos into editable GIFs. Note that while you can create GIFs for free on this platform, you’ll have to become a paying subscriber in order to access some features.

With that being said, they do offer some options that you won’t find anywhere else, like Instant Effects and themed stickers.

Here’s How It Works:

Copy and paste a link to a short video you’d like to turn into a GIF.

Using GIFS.com to create GIFs

On the timeline at the bottom of your screen, indicate your GIF’s start and end time, as well as length. Then, being customizing your GIF with their selection of themed stickers, Instant Effects, and customizable fonts for captions.

Using GIFS.com to create GIFs

When you’re done, add a name to your GIF, some tags to make it easily searchable, and you’re done!

Using GIFS.com to create GIFs

What I Like About GIF.com

  • GIF.com is super easy to use. It took me less than 5 minutes to create a GIF.
  • Offers standard fonts, like Arial, for GIF captions.
  • Offers advanced editing options, like the ability to change the opacity of a sticker.

What I Don’t Like About GIF.com

  • GIF.com don’t offer some key features if you’re a free user. For instance, you can’t remove their watermark from your GIF, you can’t resize or compress the file, and you can’t download the original file to your desktop computer unless you are a paying subscriber.
  • Editing a GIF’s length and duration isn’t very clear.

Overall, while I did enjoy GIF.com’s Instant Effects and sticker options, I wouldn’t recommend becoming a paid subscriber for features you can find for free on GIPHY’s GIF Maker and other online tools.

Imgur’s Video to GIF

Ever use a tool like ClipConverter to turn a YouTube video into an .mp3 file? Imgur does almost the exact same thing by converting videos into GIFs.

If you’re looking for a tool without the bells and whistles GIF.com or GIPHY’s GIF Maker have, Video to GIF is for you. It doesn’t have themed stickers, fun filters, or customizable fonts for captions, but it will help you create a high-quality GIF in no time.

Here’s How It Works:

Enter the URL of the video you’d like to turn into a GIF.

Using Imgur Video to GIF Maker

Under the video preview, Video to GIF will prompt you to select a start time, then indicate the length of your GIF.

Using Imgur Video to GIF Maker

When you’re done, hit the “Create GIF” button and your GIF will be ready to share and download.

What I Like About Imgur’s Video to GIF

  • This is the fastest tool I’ve ever used to create a GIF before.
  • Only supports videos uploaded online. You’re out of luck if you only have an .mp3 file

What I Don’t Like About Imgur’s Video to GIF

  • There aren’t enough options to help customize GIFs (i.e. no stickers, filters, dynamic captions, etc.)
  • The background of the caption is black by default. It really doesn’t look good on an animated GIF.
  • Only available on desktop.

Overall, if you want to create a super-simple GIF in a short amount of time, give Imgur’s Video to GIf tool a try.

Boomerang for Instagram

Unlike other GIF-creating apps, Boomerang for Instagram is a mobile app that takes a burst of photos and stitches them together into a GIF that plays forward and backward with no editing required.

Here’s How It Works:

Press the photo button, hold for a few seconds, and voila! That’s all there is to it. When you’re satisfied with your Boomerang, you can instantly share it on Facebook or Instagram, or save it to share on another platform. Here’s a short video that shows you how it works.

What I Like About Boomerang for Instagram

  • It’s incredibly unique! Having a GIF that plays forward and backward–instead of looping–really makes my GIF stand out.
  • It’s incredibly fast and easy-to-use.
  • Easy to share GIFs directly to social media.

What I Don’t Like About Boomerang for Instagram

  • Can’t use videos or photos to create GIFs.
  • Only available as a mobile app.
  • Cannot customize the video with a caption, filters, or stickers.

Overall, I really like Boomerang for Instagram, especially for creating and sharing original GIFs of your product or team in action.

LICECap

As a marketer, my favorite GIF creator of all time is LICECap, a free animated screen capture tool. It’s allowed me to create several “How To” articles demonstrating how to use features in a desktop app.

It’s also how I created every single GIF in this article!

Here’s How It Works

When you open the desktop app, LICECap will display an open window that you can adjust to fit the whole screen or only a portion of the screen you’d like to capture.

In the bottom righthand corner, hit the record button and select a file name for your GIF. Then proceed to interact with whatever you’re recording. You can also pause the recording and reposition the window if you’d like.

When you’re done, LICECap automatically saves your GIF that you can use in your content.

LICECap GIF Maker

What I Like About LICECap

  • Unlike any of the other tools mentioned above, LICECap allows me to create GIFs of a product in real-time. No URLs or .mp3 files required.
    *It’s also very easy to use. For instance, I save time by not having to set a length or duration.
  • You can also specify a maximum FPS (frames per second) to allow throttling CPU usage.

What I Don’t Like About LICECap
* The saved GIFs files are big and can take up a lot of space, so keep your GIFs short.

LICECap is a tool every marketer and entrepreneur should have in their content marketing toolkit.


The Best Places To Use Animated GIFs

Now that you’re able to create GIFs, you should probably also know the platforms that support GIFs and the different ways to add animated GIFs to your content. Let’s jump right in!

Facebook

GIFs are now becoming way more popular on Facebook–probably because they’re easier to create and share on Facebook than videos.

The problem, however, was that in order to upload a GIF to Facebook, you would have to share it using a GIPHY link, which was far from ideal.

Now, Facebook allows you to search for GIFs and add them to a Facebook post–without any share links! Here’s how it works:

  • Go to your Facebook page and make a Facebook Post.
  • When you create a Facebook post, Facebook will display a drop-down menu that gives you the option to add a photo or video, tag friends in your post, check in at a location, etc. Select the GIF option in that menu.
  • Next, Facebook will display another drop-down menu that allows you to search for the GIF of your choice.

Adding a GIF on Facebook

  • When you’ve found the perfect reaction GIF, select it and it’ll be automatically added to your Facebook post. Note that when you add a GIF to your post, it will appear static, but it will be animated once you’ve published the post.
  • Finally, add a catchy caption, if you haven’t already, and hit Post!

Now, this process only applies to a personal Facebook account. Here’s how to share GIFs on your company’s business page:

  • Find a reaction GIF that you’ll like to use on Google Images or on GIPHY. Download it and save the file to your desktop.
  • Next, log into Facebook, go to your company’s business page, and log into Business Manager.
  • Under the Page tab, scroll down a bit to create a new Facebook post.
  • Write a caption for your post.
  • Next, drag your GIF file from your desktop into the Facebook post. This will upload your GIF as a video. Note: don’t panic if you don’t see a screencap of your GIF in video thumbnail. That just means Facebook hasn’t uploaded your GIF just yet.

Adding GIFs to Facebook Business Page

  • When you’re happy with your caption, go ahead and hit Publish. When your post is published, you’ll see your animated GIF in action!

A GIF on Facebook

Twitter 

Thankfully, Twitter makes it super easy to attach GIFs to your tweets. Here are two super simple ways to add GIFs to your tweets.

  • The Drag and Drop Method: You can add a GIF from your computer by simply dragging your GIF from your desktop to the Compose new Tweet box. After adding your GIF to your tweet, it’ll immediately appear in its animated form. Finally, hit Tweet to publish your post.

Adding a GIF to Twitter

  • Alternatively, you can use Twitter’s integration with GIPHY to search for a GIF to add to your tweet. First, click the GIF option in the Compose new Tweet module. Then search and select a GIF to add to your tweet. Hit Tweet to publish your post and that’s it!

Adding a GIF on Twitter via GIPHY

Content Management Systems

Of course, I can’t forget about uploading GIFs to your website or blog! While every content management system is different, the process of uploading a GIF is exactly the same as uploading a photo or video. Here are instructions on how to upload GIFs on WordPressGhost, and Squarespace.