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.


This post is from 2013, and things have changed a lot in the last 5 years!

We updated to remove instructions on how to use a YouTube video downloader which is now defunct, added in a newer easy GIF maker, and added a link to outside instructions on how to download videos on Windows.

Unless this is your first time on the internet (welcome!), you're aware there's a massive GIF party going on, and you're wondering if your invite got lost in the mail.

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.

Giphy: This is the best place to find GIFs, and it has an easy GIF maker tool.

GifMaker: You can drop a YouTube link into here to make from a video.

MakeAGif Pros: Just drop in a YouTube link, select start time and if you want it between 1-5 seconds.

ImgFlip Pros: Allows you to add captions to your gif easily, more control over timing.

But here's what BuzzFeed editors recommend: GifBrewery, available in the App Store (sorry, Mac only).

GifBrewery costs $5. Look, I know that's not nothing, but imagine how those 5 clams will go to impress your friends and win the hearts of many with your GIF-making prowess!

STEP 1: In order to make a GIF from a video, you need to have the video file on your computer.

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.

On a Mac, 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.

For Windows, you can use a VLC player. More detailed instructions here.

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.

Obvs we want to "Add Caption." You can play around with the colors and fonts. I think yellow will look best here.

Click "Create GIF" and it will show you a preview of how your sweet-ass GIF will look:

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 5 MB. For Tumblr, it's 1 MB.

Use the "Crop" function to crop it (duh).

"Resize" can make it smaller (this helps make the file size smaller too).

Let's get that file size even lower.

Check the "Reduce colors" option to make it even smaller.


Now you're a GIF genius! Go forth and GIF THE WORLD!

Hell yeah, lil' buddy. GIF on.