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How To Make A GIF Without Photoshop

Photoshop is great if you're a millionaire graphic designer (it's expensive and hard!). For everyone else, here's the simple way to be a GIF maestro.

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You've tried Photoshop, but it feels basically like:

If you think Photoshop is easy, I'm very proud of you and I'm sure that is wonderful. The rest of us, however, see it as a giant hot mess that costs a billion dollars (we do not condone stealing software here) and is impossible to use.

Well fuck it, you're crashing this party.

Universal Pictures / Via

For this guide, we're talking about making these types of GIFs like Johnny Depp here, where the gif is a clip from a video.

For a gif that's flipping between two to three still images, I recommend But that's BORING. We're talking fun video clip GIFs here.

There are some free online GIF makers out there.

They're not great, but if you you're looking for something super quick and with no bells or whistles, they'll get the job done.

MakeAGif Pros: Just drop in a YouTube link, select start time and if you want it between 1-5 seconds. Cons: leaves a "" watermark on your gif. Also, the timing can't get too precise for the start and end times of the gif. UPDATE: MakeAgif founder Troy Osinoff tells us that you can avoid the watermark by creating a free account and logging in. Thanks, Troy!

ImgFlip Pros: Allows you to add captions to your gif easily, more control over timing. Cons: It prompts you to download a YouTube video using KeepVid, which can be wonky.


STEP 1: In order to make a GIF from a video, you need to have the video file on your computer. There are two ways to do this:

Muse Productions / Via

Of course, if you already have the video file on your computer, skip this part. For example, if you took a video on your phone of your friend dancing weirdly and you want to GIF it, just send yourself the video file and proceed to Step 2.

OPTION A: Use Quicktime's Screen Recording to record a YouTube video

Just size the recording screen to the video and you're good to go. The only downside is that if it's a long video clip and you don't know what part you'll want to GIF, you have to sit through it all now. But it's OK. You'll live.

"Export" to name and save the file somewhere you'll remember it.


Option B: Use a browser extension to grab the video. There are a lot of these, and they break all the time, so this isn't 100% reliable. We recommend the KeepVid bookmarklet. On the YouTube page, click the bookmarklet to get to the download options:

One thing about KeepVid: we've noticed that as of a few months ago, it only works when you use the bookmarklet, not when you just paste in the YouTube link into

STEP 2: Now open GifBrewery — it will immediately give you the "Open File" screen. Find your video file.

I saved this video in my "Movies" folder because my desktop and downloads folders are hella messy.

STEP 3: Crop your video in GifBrewery so that it's the exact moment you want.

For GIF length, the shorter, the better. A GIF is more funny if it starts and ends exactly where the joke is, no extra preamble or dragging on after. Going frame by frame to the exact moment you want is crucial for good reaction GIFs.

Plus, the longer the GIF, the bigger the file size. And you want to keep that file size down.


Hmmm... This file is too big for my purposes (2.96 MB). Let's see what we can do to make it smaller.

The kinds of places you'll want to post your GIF creation usually have size limits.

For BuzzFeed and Imgur, it's 2 MB. For Tumblr, it's 1 MB.


Katie Notopoulos is a senior editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Notopoulos writes about tech and internet culture is cohost of the Internet Explorer podcast.

Contact Katie Notopoulos at

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