back to top

How To Animate Your Twitter Avatar

Ever wonder how people get animated Twitter avatars? Or why yours don't work? Here's the secret to making your Twitter avatar 100 times better and/or more obnoxious.

Posted on

Twitter doesn't officially support animated GIFs. In fact, the company basically prohibits them:

Twitter supports JPEG, GIF, and PNG file formats. We do not support animated GIFs. All existing animated GIF images will be left as they are, but no new ones can be uploaded.

But this isn't quite right. While uploading a gif as your avatar is discouraged, it's still possible. — you just need to follow a few hidden, but simple, rules. Here's how to do it.


A couple notes: Don't choose an especially long GIF, since Twitter has a 700KB file size limit. And make sure that you're happy with the first frame of your GIF, because not all Twitter clients show animations. The main site does, as does Tweetdeck. But Twitter for iPhone, for example, does not.

Advertisement is the best tool for this. Make sure the dimensions are exactly square — in this case, I cropped to 250px by 250px.

This is the BIG SECRET: Animated Twitter avatars only seem to work properly in certain sizes: 48px, 96px, 128px, 192px, 384px. If you upload another size, it either won't work at all, or it'll get mangled. This egg is just supposed to be shaking slightly; Twitter's automatic resizing tools made it pulse:

Advertisement works for resizing, too.

You'll get the best results with a 192-pixel image, but feel free to use a smaller size if your GIF is too large, or if the 192-pixel version malfunctions, which it sometimes does.


Here are a few good posts for finding your new GIF avatar:

- 125 Fantastic Gifs To Stare At When You're High

- Hey BuzzFeed, How Is Everyone Feeling Today

- What's Your Favorite GIF?

Fair warning: GIF avatars are divisive. Some people are going to ask you to change yours back — maybe even the CEO of Twitter:

But don't do it. Stay strong.

And welcome to the GIF life.

Thanks to Sarah Pavis for my current Sharkvatar. And special thanks to @gleuch and @straythenomad for their vital research on this subject.

Contact John Herrman at

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.