How to GIF for Newbs

This week presents a culmination of many realities for me this school year:

  • I’m taking lead on my school district’s improvement plan for the first time.
  • I’m busy coordinating funding and professional development for our district-wdie STEM programs for next year.
  • I’ve finally admitted that without actually writing anything, it’s difficult to actually publish a new blog post.
  • AND…
  • There’s an excellent “end of the school year” #michED Twitter chat coming on Wednesday evening hosted by Ann Smart, one of the happiest and goofiest (in the best sense of the word) human beings that I know.

So why is this post about GIFs? Well, to put it bluntly…I’m crazy stressed out over the responsibility that I’m tasked with over the next month. However, rather than let it get to me, I’m going to embrace the stress train, relieve the anxiety with a GIF filled chat this Wednesday evening at 8 EST, and rock and roll through my work!

If only I could express how pumped up I am with an animated GIF. Oh wait, I can!

How about some epic air guitar courtesy of Bill and Ted?

Bill and Ted Air Guitar

Or what about Rocky Balboa celebrating an excruciating training regimen?

Rock Balboa

Oh wait, I know! The most epic high five that Jake and Finn could devise!


Impressive, yes? Alright, not really. But it was fun to create them, and with a couple of ridiculously easy tools, even the lowliest “GIF newb” can create their own GIFs from any video on Youtube, Vimeo, or other HTML5 video sharing site.

Easy Video to GIF Tools

IMGUR Video to GIF – FREE, doesn’t require a login, and walks you through the entire process. Find a video clip, copy and paste the URL into the box, select when you want your GIF to start and end, then hit “Create GIF.” Not ONLY will it strip out the audio for you, but it will compress the video file to a manageable size, and then give you a link to copy and share the GIF or download. You can even add text to the GIF if you’d like for a nice “meme effect.” Jim Groom has an excellent tutorial on how to use the tool for those that want a play by play.

GIPHY GIF Maker – Another completely FREE tool that doesn’t require a login, and has a similarly easy way around turning a video into a GIF. Text caption, and automatic sharing to GIPHY are included as well. Don’t feel like creating your own? GIPHY is one of the largest GIF hosting and directory websites on the net, so searching for the perfect GIF is easy if you don’t feel like creating your own. GIPHY has a nice tutorial (complete with GIFs) on how to use their tools.

Mobile GIF Tools

Want to create GIFs on the go? I do all the time, but I’m a bit of a GIF snob, and I like to craft them by hand, from still images or video I’ve gathered myself and then painstakingly re-assembled frame by frame. Kidding…the GIF tools I use on mobile are no longer available on the App Store; GIF apps are a dime a dozen, and with hundreds of them out there, even successful ones don’t last long as they rarely make much money given how many free mobile GIF apps are available.

However, Lifewire has an excellent post on five currently popular GIF creation tools on iOS and Android. Personally, GIPHY cam is one of my favorites on iOS, and has all sorts of fun overlays for creating GIFs live from your device’s camera. It’s also available on the Google Play Store.

Your Turn

So, regardless of where you are in your GIF journey (and honestly, being a newb is awesome, because the bar for creation is really low), do you have any favorite GIF sharing apps or websites? If so, share in the comments!


  1. Hello,
    I was wondering if you are using these GIFs as an educational tool for use in the classroom. I think this would be a fun way of getting students attention. What is the best way to use GIFs in the classroom without overusing them.

    1. So the funny thing is, Lee, I don’t really think about GIFs as an “educational tool.” I think of them as a communication tool. Regardless of the environment, it really comes down to the purpose for me; am I trying to communicate a feeling, emotion, or common situation that we all share? It’s easy to find a GIF to express an emotion. There are no “best” ways to use them without over-using them; you need to sort of feel that out for yourself. Try a few, see where it takes you. If you open up the GIF creating and posting to students, you’ll likely see them become much more useful in the long run, especially if you let students submit them on assignments or sneak them into presentation.

  2. I know this is an old post but thank you – I too love GIFs and agree they are a communication tool.

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