iOS: How to turn Live Photos into GIFs without Google

You can do it, but why isn't it native to Photos?

Apple, iOS, iPhone, iPhone 6S, Live Photos, Apps, Software, photography
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While we wait for Apple to bake GIF creation tools inside Photos, Google’s grabbing attention with the iOS 9 Motion Stills app, which turns Live Photos captured on an iPhone into GIFs or .MOV clips, but there other ways you can make this happen.

Use a Mac

Sure, we know the future of computing is mobile and it may seem like overkill to use a Mac to do something so simple, but you can easily turn a Live Photo into a GIF manually. You see, a Live Photo consists of two elements: a 12MP JPEG still image and a 3-second .MOV video file – you can’t see both files in Photos, but they do exist. In order to build a GIF, you’ll first need to extract the .MOV file from the image.

There are two ways to achieve this on a Mac:

  • With Photos: As explained here, select your image while depressing the Option key, drag-&-drop that image to your Desktop.  
  • With Image Capture: Connect your iPhone to your Mac and open Image Capture. In Image Capture scroll to the image you want to use, select the .MOV file of that image and drag it to your desktop.

Now you can edit the .MOV to your satisfaction in iMovie, including adding motion and stabilization effects. The next step is to open the edited .MOV file you create in a GIF-creation application, such as GifBrewery, or use Photoshop to do the same thing, or choose and use an online GIF creation service, such as GifMaker.

Use an app

There are many other iOS apps you can use to quickly create GIFs from Live Photos you capture. The attraction is that you don’t need access to a Mac to create and use these things. Each of these apps has some limitations and some unique advantages that make them quite different.

Note: It is annoying that Apple has not created a dedicated Live Photos folder to make it simple for users to identify images they want to use. You have to look for the small circular Live Photos icon at the bottom left of the image in the Photos browser.

lively 2 Apple Must

A degree of precipitation appears to be upon us today.

Live GIF

When installed, LiveGIF ($1.99) will automatically gather all your Live Photos into its camera roll. You can tap on images in this collection to see GIF previews, and if you like the creation you can share these as GIFs or videos. The app’s developer also makes a photo-editing app called Priime, and you can easily edit your images in there.


Free to download (but you pay $1.99 for unlimited exports) the Lively app automates the process of turning your images into shareable GIFs, and also adds playback speeds from .5x to 2x to help bring your image to life.


With a limited selection of tools, Alive’s developers charge $1.99 to remove a watermark from GIFs that are created. However, the 29 effects filters it provides are useful and the way all the Live Photos in its camera roll autoplay makes it engaging to use. It will also make GIFs out of your video clips.

GIF Toaster

This free app lets you browse all your Live Photos from within the app. Select an image you want to use and then tap Encode to create a GIF. You can adjust frame rate, playback speed and resolution size in the app, which also lets you create GIFs from bursts of photographs, though the developer wants $1.99 for some of the apps more sophisticated features.

Motion Stills

Google’s free app also gathers your Live Photos together, and provides effective video stabilization technology that makes your image more impressive. One thing I do like is that (for once) you don’t need to sign-in to Google to use the app.

One more thing

Are you getting everything you can out of using Live Photos? This brilliant article will help you get better results by taking better images.

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