How to Edit a GIF File

By Carlye Jones

Whether it's a hand-drawn image, or coimputer-generated, it's easy to edit a GIF file.

GIF files are made for the web. They compress a lot of graphic information into a very small file, saving both disk space and bandwidth. They are also the most common format for simple animations and for line art. Nearly any graphic can be turned into a GIF, with the exception of highly detailed photographs, which tend to lose detail when turned into a GIF. If you're building a website, or simply wanting to speed up loading time on your blog, GIFs are a great way to go.Editing a GIF file is very simple, and not much different than editing any other type of graphic. Here's how to edit a GIF file.

Open the GIF file you want to edit in your editing software. You can use software designed for editing photos or for other graphics. Either: (a) Go to "File" and "Open" and navigate to where you have the GIF saved, or (b) if you are at the GIF file, right-click it and choose "Open With," then choose your editing program.

Make a copy of your GIF file.This is optional, but highly recommended. Most software programs do offer an "Undo" option if you make a mistake, but many limit the number of actions you can undo, so if you change your mind or find a mistake you made earlier after working a while, you may not be able to get back to your original.A quick and simple way to make a copy is to click "File," then "Save As" and save a copy under a new name.

Make the changes you want to your GIF. You can do just about anything to a GIF that you can to a photo or any other type of graphic file. GIFs are also ideal for creating animations. You can crop, change colors, add layers, draw on top, add filter effects, or just about anything else you wish.

Save your GIF.In most editing software, you can simply click "File" and "Save" and your changes will be saved. Depending on the changes you've made, or your software's settings, however, your edited GIF file will be saved as a different file type if you don't choose to save it as a GIF. Check the file name before finalizing the save and make sure it has the ".gif" extension. If not, choose your file type and change it to ."gif". Once your changes are saved, you are done and ready to use your GIF!


A handy way to keep track of copies of original GIF files is to simply add "copy" to the original file name. For example, if I have a GIF file named "Mouse", the copy would be named "Mouse_copy".


Double-check that the file type hasn't been changed from GIF to something else before finalizing the save. If it has changed, simply change it back to GIF.