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Opening GIF files

Have a problem opening a .GIF file? We collect information about file formats and can explain what GIF files are. Additionally we recommend software suitable for opening or converting such files.

What is the .GIF file type?

The .gif extension associates with the Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) introduced by CompuServe in 1989. GIF was the first format specifically designed for network graphics, and it became a de facto industry standard for decades. Strong points of the GIF format are small size, transparency/animation support and universal accessibility.

The GIF format is an 8-bit bitmap palette-based format with a maximum palette width of 256 colors. It employs lossless LZW compression and supports simple cycled animation by storing a series of GIF images in a single .gif file.



GIF images are well suited for lineart and logotype graphics with large uniform-color areas, crisp lines and sharp color changes. Using .gif images for photographic pictures would be improper and clumsy, as those are much better handled by the JPEG format.

GIF images are supported by all web browsers and image viewing software on any user platform. Until the advent of the PNG format, the GIF format was the only choice besides JPEG. GIF images are still very popular on the Web.

Software to open or convert GIF files

You can open GIF files with the following programs: 

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