How to send GIFs without sending GIFs | Cult of Mac

How to send GIFs without sending GIFs


It’s hard to convey a moving photo with a still image, but doesn’t this smoothie look delicious?
It’s hard to convey a moving photo with a still image, but doesn’t this smoothie look delicious?
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Quick question: How do you send a GIF selfie from your iPhone? One answer is just don’t bother. It’s too much hassle. Another way is to use this handy shortcut to make one. But there’s a third way, which is also the best way: Don’t send a GIF at all.

If you and your intended GIF recipient both use iOS devices, there’s a much better option.

Send Live Photos instead of GIFs

If you want to send a short animated clip, then why not skip the GIF and use a Live Photo instead? Live Photos offer several advantages over GIFs:

  • They’re smaller, and faster to send. GIFs are just a bunch of still images played one after the other. A Live Photo uses video compression to make the equivalent clip far smaller.
  • They’re better quality. GIFs are jerky and awful. Live Photos are not.
  • Everybody knows how to pronounce the name. Nobody ever argued about the pronunciation of “Live Photo.” You can’t say that about GIFs.

How to snap a Live Photo

This part is dead easy. Just tap the Live Photo icon at the top of the camera screen when you take a snap. You’ll then get your normal photo, but the camera will also capture a short video clip of the moment at the same time. This clip can then be sent as is, or you can add neat effects, which we’re going to do next.

The other advantage of a Live Photo is that, later on, you can choose a different frame of the video to use as the main image. That’s pretty neat if your subject blinked (and the camera’s blink detection didn’t automatically fix it, which can still happen in group shots).

Looped Live Photos

Next up, we’re going to create a GIF-like loop from the Live Photo. This part is easy. You just need to open the photo’s edit screen.

To see the Live Photos options, just swipe up when viewing the image. You’ll see a row of effects. Here’s the view from the iPad:

There are four ways you can view Live Photos.
There are four ways you can view Live Photos.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Live is the default. It plays back the loop once when you first look at the photo. Long Exposure performs a neat trick where it blurs only the parts that were moving in the original scene, making it look as if you shot the picture with a slow shutter speed.

The ones we want today are Loop and Bounce. These do exactly what you’d think to the clip. I like Loop, because bounce looks gimmicky. But if the start and end of your clip don’t line up, then a loop can turn out janky, and bounce will actually look better.

Tap any of the effects to preview. When you’re done, just swipe these options back off the screen.

That’s it. You’re done. Simply share the looped Live Photo as you would any other image. You’ll see that it continues to loop right there in the Messages App timeline, for you and the recipient.

Now, isn’t this easier, and better, than sending a GIF? No? No problem. Just use our shortcut to create a GIF from your Live Photo, and send that. And the pronunciation of “GIF”? Hard G, not soft. But that’s just like, my opinion, man.