Share live photos that have been looped or bounced directly to apps or build a workflow using iOS shortcuts to export a GIF. Alternatively, download a third-party app like GIPHY and record, convert, and view export-ready GIFs.
Looping animated GIFs became popular during the early days of the internet, when slow connection speeds made streaming video prohibitively expensive. The format never really went away, so it’s helpful to know how to produce GIFs right on your iPhone.
Share live photos as GIFs
Live Photos are still images that capture a small amount of movement in a small video file each time you press the shutter. You can browse your Live Photos collection by launching Photos and then going to Albums > Live Photos.
To make sure you’re capturing a live photo when you take a photo, look for the live photo icon on the top or side of the viewfinder. They look like three circles. If you see a line in the middle, that means the feature is disabled. Touch it to turn it on.
Live Photos will be converted to GIFs automatically, depending on where you share them. The first thing you need to do is locate a Live Photo within the Photos app. Open it up and you should see a “Live” button appear in the top left corner of the image with a drop down arrow.
Tap the arrow and choose “Loop” or “Bounce” from the menu that appears. Loop will try to play your Live Photo just fine, with varying degrees of success. Loop works best for repetitive movements that go together well, taken from a relatively static perspective. Bounce simply plays and then reverses the entire Live Photo.
Pick one and preview the effect, then when you’re ready to share, hit the “Share” button (which looks like a box with an arrow pointing up). Now choose a destination app, like WhatsApp, and your Live Photo should be sent as a GIF. In some apps, the loop will be sent as a video, in which case you may want to use Shortcuts instead.
Convert Live Photos or Videos to GIFs with Shortcuts
If your Live Photo doesn’t share as a GIF, you can force your iPhone to create a GIF using the Shortcuts app instead. This technique is also great for videos. For Live Photos, you need to follow the instructions above to “Loop” or “Bounce” the animation before you start.
For videos, you must crop your clip to size before attempting to convert it to a GIF. To do this, find the video in your Photos app, and then tap “Edit” in the top right corner of the screen. You can now grab the start and end points on the video timeline that appears to trim your clip to size and then preview it with the “Play” button. Press “Done” to save.
With your Live Photo or video ready to go, it’s time to create a shortcut that will export it to GIF and save it to your Photos app. To do this, launch the Shortcuts app on your iPhone or re-download it from the App Store if you’ve previously removed it. Shortcuts is an application that allows you to create time-saving workflows and has all kinds of uses.
Note: If you prefer to download this shortcut, there is a link at the bottom of this section. Understanding how the shortcut is created and what options are available to you is useful for editing and creating your own in the future.
Open Shortcuts and tap the plus “+” icon in the top right corner of the screen to create a new workflow.
Tap the “Add Action” button to reveal a list of categories.
Search for “GIF” and choose “Create GIF” from the results that appear.
The action will be added to your workflow. Next, tap on the “Content” button that appears and choose “Shortcut Entry” from the list. We’re doing this so that the shortcut points to the video or Live Photo you have open each time it’s activated.
Tap the arrow that appears inside the action to reveal a few options, including the time in “Seconds per photo” and an “Autosize” toggle. Please note that turning off auto-sizing will make your GIFs bulky. You can always edit these settings later if you are not satisfied with the results.
A new action will appear above the “Create GIF” action you added. This allows you to limit the shortcut to set media categories and dictate where it appears in the operating system.
To keep things tidy, tap on the “Images and XX more” variable. Disable the categories you don’t want. We limit it to images, media and files.
Now tap on the “Nowhere” variable and make sure “Show on Shared Sheet” is enabled. This will allow you to enable the shortcut from the “Share” option you see when viewing media.
Finally, use the search box at the bottom of the screen to search for “quick view” and add a Quick View action to the end of your workflow. This will show a preview of the GIF you just created and make it easy to share or save the output.
All that’s left to do is give your new shortcut a name and an icon at the top of the screen. Press “Done” and save your shortcut. It will appear in the Shortcuts app along with your other workflows.
To use your new shortcut, find a live photo or video and hit the “Share” button. From the list of actions that appears, choose “Create GIF” or whatever name you gave your shortcut. Wait a second and your iPhone will convert your media to GIF format. You will then see a preview of the GIF.
Use the “Share” button in the bottom left corner to save, share, AirDrop, and more. When you press “Done”, your GIF will be discarded.
Tim Brookes / Instruction Geek
The GIF above was created from a live photo using “Loop” with “Auto Resize” enabled. We use a “Seconds Per Photo” value of 0.1 seconds to achieve slightly faster movement. Download this shortcut and add it to your Shortcuts app.
Capture GIFs with your camera using GIPHY
When all else fails, third-party apps come to the rescue. GIPHY for iPhone is not just a meme repository, but a complete GIF camera and converter. You can use the app to record GIFs with your iPhone camera and convert existing videos and Live Photos while adding filters, stickers, and effects. The app has a self-explanatory interface and most of the features appear in the “Create” button.
GIPHY allows you to save videos and GIFs, and you don’t have to upload your files to the Internet either. Best of all, there are no watermarks to deal with. It’s a solid option if you don’t like using built-in apps like Photos and Shortcuts.
GIFs that keep on giving
Animated GIFs are synonymous with the early internet for many. By using an inordinate amount of compression and a handful of frames, you could put a nice “under construction” image on your GeoCities page, or stand out from a sea of affiliate sites on a website’s sidebar.
Despite its relatively poor quality, choppy animation, and heavy use of dithering, the GIF is still alive and well. If you love GIFs as much as we do, learn more about one of the web’s most beloved formats.