GIF file icon

GIF File Extension

Graphical Interchange Format

What is GIF file?

Graphic Interchange Format (GIF) is an extension used in raster graphics. File contains a lossless bitmap image. GIF gain high popularity in Internet – only JPEG is more popular. It was developed by the CompuServe company and deployed on the market in 1987.

How is GIF format used?

As mentioned above, GIF is often used in Internet because it provides wide support and it can be easily transferred between different platforms and applications. In Internet graphics it is specifically often used for purpose of showing short video clips, because this format may include not only singular images, but also sequences of images. Therefore many GIFs are used to depict uncomplicated animations. This format is used also on web sites to display small graphics as a navigation buttons or header images.

Restrictions of GIF format

GIF graphic is useful in presenting images characterised by not complicated structure, because it has certain restrictions. This format supports in images up to 8 bits per pixel, therefore a single GIF image may be comprised of 256 different colours in 24-bit RGB. In animated GIFS each frame also supports the 256 colour palette.

Additional information about GIF

  1. GIF images are compressed with the Lempel-Ziv-Welch (LZW) lossless method of data compression, which enable to reduce size of the file without interfering with the quality of the image.
  2. GIF format supports also transparent pixels, however, there is a restriction – they have to be completely transparent or non-transparent, therefore an intermediate value is impossible.

Programs which support GIF file extension

Below you will find an index of software programs that can be used to open GIF files divided into 4 categories according to system platform supported. GIF files can be encountered on all system platforms, including mobile, yet there is no guarantee each will properly support such files.

Updated: 10/18/2019

How to open file with GIF extension?

There can be multiple causes why you have problems with opening GIF files on given system. Fortunately, most common problems with GIF files can be solved without in-depth IT knowledge, and most importantly, in a matter of minutes. The list below will guide you through the process of addressing the encountered problem.

Step 1. Install Adobe Photoshop software

Install software to open GIF file The main and most frequent cause precluding users form opening GIF files is that no program that can handle GIF files is installed on user’s system. This one is an easy one. Select Adobe Photoshop or one of the recommended programs (for example, CorelDRAW, Adobe Illustrator, PaintShop Pro) and download it from appropriate source and install on your system. On the top of the page a list that contains all programs grouped based on operating systems supported can be found. If you want to download Adobe Photoshop installer in the most secured manner, we suggest you visit Adobe Systems Incorporated website and download from their official repositories.

Step 2. Verify the you have the latest version of Adobe Photoshop

Update software that support file extension GIFIf the problems with opening GIF files still occur even after installing Adobe Photoshop, it is possible that you have an outdated version of the software. Check the developer’s website whether a newer version of Adobe Photoshop is available. It may also happen that software creators by updating their applications add compatibility with other, newer file formats. If you have an older version of Adobe Photoshop installed, it may not support GIF format. All of the file formats that were handled just fine by the previous versions of given program should be also possible to open using Adobe Photoshop.

Step 3. Associate Graphical Interchange Format files with Adobe Photoshop

After installing Adobe Photoshop (the most recent version) make sure that it is set as the default application to open GIF files. The next step should pose no problems. The procedure is straightforward and largely system-independent

Associate software with GIF file on Windows

Selecting the first-choice application in Windows

  • Choose the Open with entry from the file menu accessed by right-mouse clicking on the GIF file
  • Click Choose another app and then select More apps option
  • To finalize the process, select Look for another app on this PC entry and using the file explorer select the Adobe Photoshop installation folder. Confirm by checking Always use this app to open GIF files box and clicking OK button.
Associate software with GIF file on Mac

Selecting the first-choice application in Mac OS

  • Right-click the GIF file and select Information
  • Open the Open with section by clicking its name
  • Select Adobe Photoshop and click Change for all...
  • If you followed the previous steps a message should appear: This change will be applied to all files with GIF extension. Next, click the Continue button to finalize the process.

Step 4. Check the GIF for errors

You closely followed the steps listed in points 1-3, but the problem is still present? You should check whether the file is a proper GIF file. It is probable that the file is corrupted and thus cannot be accessed.

Check GIF file for viruses
1. The GIF may be infected with malware – make sure to scan it with an antivirus tool.

If the file is infected, the malware that resides in the GIF file hinders attempts to open it. Scan the GIF file as well as your computer for malware or viruses. GIF file is infected with malware? Follow the steps suggested by your antivirus software.

2. Verify that the GIF file’s structure is intact

If you obtained the problematic GIF file from a third party, ask them to supply you with another copy. The file might have been copied erroneously and the data lost integrity, which precludes from accessing the file. If the GIF file has been downloaded from the internet only partially, try to redownload it.

3. Ensure that you have appropriate access rights

Sometimes in order to access files user need to have administrative privileges. Log out of your current account and log in to an account with sufficient access privileges. Then open the Graphical Interchange Format file.

4. Check whether your system can handle Adobe Photoshop

The operating systems may note enough free resources to run the application that support GIF files. Close all running programs and try opening the GIF file.

5. Verify that your operating system and drivers are up to date

Up-to-date system and drivers not only makes your computer more secure, but also may solve problems with Graphical Interchange Format file. It is possible that one of the available system or driver updates may solve the problems with GIF files affecting older versions of given software.

Do you want to help?

If you have additional information about the GIF file, we will be grateful if you share it with our users. To do this, use the form here and send us your information on GIF file.

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