Animated GIF images are everywhere. You can find them in text messages, instant messages and emails, as well as on social media channels and websites. They are so popular that many mobile device keyboards have a dedicated button to search for GIF images.
A disadvantage of GIFs is that the files can become very large. To help you reduce the size of the GIF images you find or create, we’ve rounded up some of the best GIF compressor and optimization tools. Online tools, Android apps and desktop programs – our list has a few of each.
What happens when a GIF is compressed or optimized?
Think image compression like this. In order to compress an image, some details have to be removed from it, and – this is the most important – some details are more important than others. Compression programs and services find the details that matter least and remove them to get a smaller file. They can reduce the number of colors used in the image or simply resize the image.
It’s hard to know exactly which methods a particular GIF compressor or optimization tool uses. In practice, however, you probably don’t need to worry too much about the details. Most likely, you’re just trying to reduce the size of a GIF file so you can save space on your device or meet the file size limits of a website or app without completely undermining the quality of your GIF. Twitterfor example, limits animated GIFs to 5 MB on mobile and 15 MB on the web.
With all that in mind, we tested some well-known GIF optimization tools to see how good they are. First we have a . created GIF of an mp4 video with Photoshop† With one exception, we used the free option even when a premium service was offered. Let’s see how any GIF compression or optimization tool was able to reduce the file size of our GIF.
Online GIF compressor and optimization tools
These online browser-based GIF compressor tools don’t require you to download anything to use them. We avoided some popular tools that had unreasonably low image size limits for non-paying users, such as Kraken.io and GIFReducer.com.
EZGIF offers many ways to optimize GIFs. You can reduce the number of colors in the file or remove duplicate frames. You can also select Lossy GIF compression or optimize the transparency. The site defaults to Lossy GIF compression, so we tried that with a compression level of 50.
Our original GIF was 5.41 MB. After optimization this was 3.71 MB, a reduction of 31.5%. That result, combined with the options EZGIF offers, makes this our best browser-based recommendation.
After you upload a GIF to Picasion, specify the dimensions of the new image and choose a quality setting (poor, good, better, best). There are options to add sepia, grayscale, or negative effects, and you can also rotate your image. We started with a 600px wide and 5.41MB GIF. In our testing, we didn’t apply any of the optional effects or rotations.
When we selected Good Quality, the resulting file was 5.86 MB, a tiny bit taller than the original file. When we selected Poor quality, the file was 5.86 MB again† It wasn’t until we reduced the size to 350px wide that the file size was reduced to 2.10MB. That is a reduction of about 39%, but the reduced quality was clearly noticeable.
ILoveIMG.com does not seem to have a cap on file sizes for uploads. The website says, “All images are compressed with the best quality and file size ratio.” That sounds good, but it does limit the ways it can achieve a smaller file size.
Our 5.41 MB GIF has been reduced by 30% to a 3.80 MB file. While that’s a good result, we noticed the lack of configuration options.
Android apps for compressing and optimizing GIFs
We tested a few Android apps for compressing and optimizing GIF images. Several have converted our animated GIF into a single static image. Still, we found a few apps that did well for multi-frame animated GIFs.
4. gif Mini
GIF Mini’s interface is simple and intuitive. Open a GIF and then use the slider to scale the image. You can also crop the image, but best of all is the Frames option, where you can choose exactly which frames you want to remove from the GIF. For example, if you delete every other frame from your animated GIF, the result will be a jerkier GIF, but the file size will definitely be smaller.
We scaled our GIF to 90% and removed every other frame. Our 5.41 MB file has been reduced to 2.3 MB, a 43% reduction.
This app is more than just a GIF compressor or optimizer. It is a full-fledged GIF studio. For our purposes, it has options to remove the background of a GIF, crop and remove specific frames.
Our GIF went from 5.41 MB to 1.69 MB using the app’s format and quality options.
PC programs for compressing and optimizing GIFs
Most PC image editing programs can compress and optimize your GIFs, and some are specifically designed to do just that.
Next, we tried the GIF Optimizer desktop application.
It has a very simple interface and does what it advertises without any frills. Open your GIF file, hit the Optimize button and save the resulting file. Our 5.41 MB GIF was reduced by 25% with the click of one button.
Last but not least is the only tool on our list that you have to pay for. It’s not cheap, but there’s a reason Adobe Photoshop is the industry standard. Since it can certainly optimize your GIFs, we would refrain from including it.
Configuration options abound in Photoshop, including transparency, number of colors, and lossy, dither and, of course, image size settings. You can also easily choose which frames to include in your animated GIF from the Layers panel.
Go ahead and optimize
The lesson we learned while testing all these tools is that we weren’t really comparing apples to apples. Each tool uses a different combination of methods to compress and optimize. If one of these tools doesn’t meet your needs, chances are another will, so give them a try.