An acronym for Graphics Interchange Format, GIF is a graphics file format commonly used on the World Wide Web.
GIF uses a compression scheme originally developed by CompuServe, which allows the file to be quickly and easily transmitted over a network. The GIF file format only supports 8 bits per pixel, limiting the color palette to 256 colors. Because of this limitation, the GIF format is rarely used for color photos, but rather for less-complex images such as web graphic or company logos that contain mostly solid colors.
The GIF format can also support simple animation and short, low-resolution film clips. Because of their small size and the ability to animate simple images, GIF files are commonly used for avatars on forums and chat rooms.
Also See: Bitmapped Images, JPEG, PNG
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I create GIF images?
Any image file can be converted to a GIF utilizing most photo editing software. Keep in mind that most images will need to be compressed for this, and you will likely lose quality during the conversion. Your photo editing software may allow you to specify a form of dithering to help lessen the visible loss of quality as result of the compression. If you want to create an animated GIF, there are several programs available online that will allow you to convert a short video clip into GIF format. Some sites are also available that will allow you to convert a stationary image into an animated GIF. Or, if you are more artistically inclined, you can use animation software to create your own GIF animations.
Can I use GIF images on any site?
While you can typically utilize a GIF image on any site, whether creating your own website or uploading images to a social networking site, many sites do not allow animated GIF images, either for aesthetic reasons or to limit the bandwidth required by other users viewing your content. Since animated GIFs play on a continuous loop, it can be very distracting if a page is loaded with too many and can significantly impact a slower Internet connection.
Can I convert a GIF to another image or video format?
Most image editing software will allow you to convert GIF images into another image format, such as BMP, JPEG, or PNG. However, since GIF files only store 8 bits of data for each pixel, you won’t see any improvements in quality by converting them to another format. Likewise, there are plenty of conversion tools available for converting animated GIFs into another video format, such as MP4, but the quality will remain very low, regardless of the formatting you choose.