How to Create and Share GIFs With Google Photos

03 December 2015

It’s trivially easy to create GIFs using Google photos, as long as you’re using the Android or iOS app. If you’re on the web client you’re fresh out of luck; there’s no simple, built-in functionality for that yet. Fortunately for you, the app is free on either mobile platform. Just download it from the Apple App Store or Google Play and you’re ready to go.

This feature only works for pictures; you cannot convert videos to GIFs this way. If you want to make a video-like GIF, use the burst-fire mode on your camera. Most modern smartphones have this option, which can generally be activated by holding down the shutter button, or through the camera app settings.

How to do it

Open up Google Photos and select between 2 and 50 images.

Tap the + icon at the top of the screen, and select Animation.

That’s it, you’re done. You now have a fresh GIF file. It's not stored on your phone, but in the Google Photos cloud, where you have infinite storage space. You can download it to your device if you want, but that doesn't increase its functionality, or make it easier to share.

Sharing is caring, but take care how you share

Of course you want to show off your new creation, but the method you choose will affect how badly, or little, the image quality is affected.

Instant messaging

Different instant messaging platforms vary largely in how much they compress, and thus affect, the file.

Facebook Messenger, for instance, lowers the quality a lot. Conversely, and perhaps unsurprisingly, Google Hangouts makes almost no difference.

If you use any one of the countless other IM alternatives out there, be prepared for anything. If it’s terrible quality, or fails to work entirely, just try a different service, or method.

Traditional messaging

You cannot send it via text or MMS; on the other end all that will be received is the first still frame.

Uploading to Facebook

When you share your GIF as a Facebook status update, what you’re actually be posting is a still image and a link to your Google+ page where the GIF is hosted. It loads pretty quickly, but it’s not as seamless as you might be hoping.

Don’t try and get around this by downloading the GIF file to your hard drive and posting it manually; it doesn’t work. All you’ll get is a still image of the first frame and probably some confused friends.

At least it’s full quality.

Share Link

The most universally-successful option is to hit the “Share Link” option after you tap the Share icon. This simply shares the link to where the GIF is saved on your Google profile.

Anyone who clicks the link can view it, even if they’re not one of your Google Contacts/Friends/Circle members and you have your Google account on lockdown.

As you might expect, whoever views it gets the full quality experience.

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