How To Edit A GIF In Photoshop (Quickly!)

Most people think of Photoshop when editing and creating static images and designs and think they need Adobe Animate when working with animations. However, you can edit a GIF in Photoshop, and the process is relatively easy, even for beginners.

If you have a GIF you created yourself or received from someone else, you can open it in Photoshop and quickly edit the layers that make up the GIF.

I will show you how to open a GIF, edit all the frames together, edit individual frames, change the speed, and export the edited GIF. Even if you’ve never worked with a GIF before, you can follow along easily.

How To Open A GIF In Photoshop

You can open a GIF in Photoshop as you would with any other compatible file. Click the Open button in the Start window, go to File > Open, or use the shortcut Control + O (Win) or Command + O (Mac).

Locate the GIF file on your computer using Windows Explorer or Finder, select the file, and click Open.

Note: The file must be a GIF to open as editable layers. If the file isn’t visible when trying to open it, you may have an incorrectly saved GIF. Ensure the extension is .gif or re-save the file in the correct format before opening it in Photoshop.

Once you open the file, you will notice several layers appear in the Layers Panel. These are all the static images that make up the GIF.

Before editing, open the Timeline Panel by going to Window > Timeline. This will enable you to see the frames and edit the GIF speed, which I explain further in the article.

You will see the frames that create the GIF in the Timeline Panel at the bottom of the workspace.

How To Edit All The Frames Of A GIF In Photoshop

Once your GIF is open in Photoshop, you can edit all the frames at once. Adding edits to a GIF is the same as modifying a static Photoshop file with layers. You can add as many adjustment layers as you’d like to the layer stack, and it will add the effects to all the layers/frames.

For example, if I want to adjust the contrast of my GIF using a curves adjustment layer, I can easily do this. First, select the top layer in the layer stack so that the adjustment is added to the top of the pile.

When the top layer is selected, add the adjustment layer by going to the Adjustments Panel and clicking the Curves icon.

When you add the adjustment, the Properties Panel opens, where you can edit the adjustment layer. I will add contrast to the GIF by editing the Curves graph.

You will see the changes made on the GIF layers. You can hide layers to see the effect applied to all the layers.

If you want to make more changes, you can add more adjustment layers to the GIF. Follow the same method as you did for the first one. You can add the new adjustment above the Curves layers. 

I will go to the Adjustments Panel and select the Color Balance adjustment layer.

In the Properties Panel, adjust the color tones in the image as you’d like. I want the GIF to have a warmer feel. To create this feel, I will increase Reds and Yellows in the Midtones.

You can see the adjustment is added to all the layers once again. 

When you export the GIF, you will see that the effects are added to all the layers, so you have a GIF with warmer tones and more contrast than the original.

How To Edit A Single Frame Of A GIF

If you only want to edit a single frame of the GIF, you may be wondering how this is possible. Adding an edit to a single frame is easy, as you just need to add a clipping mask when you make the edit. 

To add the edit, first select the layer you want to add the edit by clicking on it. I want to add an effect to the second frame, so I select Layer 2.

Once you have selected the correct layer, you can add the edit you want by going to the Adjustments Panel and selecting the effect. I want to create an inverted effect, so I select the Invert Adjustment Layer.

Once you add the effect, you will notice the edit is added to all the frames below the layer you initially selected. You can look at the Timeline Panel to see which frames were affected.

Since I didn’t want the edit to appear on the first frame, I must tell Photoshop to only add it to the current layer using a clipping mask. 

To do this, ensure the new Adjustment layer is directly above the layer to which you want the edit added. Then, hold in Alt (Win) or Option (Mac) and hover your mouse between the adjustment layer and the frame layer until you see a downward arrow appear. Click to add the clipping mask.

Once the clipping mask is added, you will see the downward arrow icon next to the adjustment layer’s thumbnail. This shows that the edit is only applied to the layer directly below it.

You can check in the Timeline Panel to ensure the edit is only applied to the second frame.

You can also click on the second frame in the Timeline Panel to select it and see the edit in the workspace to see how the second frame looks.

You can repeat this process on as many layers as you want. For instance, I want to add the inverted effect to every second layer. To do this, I select the next layer I want to edit and repeat the steps of adding the adjustment layer and the clipping mask.

You can see the edits added to the individual frames in the Timeline Panel.

If you export the GIF, you will only see the edits you added to the individual frame(s).

How To Edit GIF Speed In Photoshop

You can easily change the GIF speed in Photoshop when creating a new GIF or editing an existing one. This allows you to slow down or speed up the changing of frames. You can edit each frame speed individually to set the frames to different rates or quickly change all the speeds at once.

To edit the speed, also known as the frame rate or delay, you must ensure the Timeline Panel is open in your workspace. If you haven’t already, open the Timeline Panel by going to Window > Timeline.

If you look underneath each frame in the Timeline Panel, you will see a number showing how long the frame will show before switching to the next frame. The time is shown in seconds, so currently, each frame will be visible for 0.2 seconds.

Note: The lower the frame rate numbers, the faster the GIF will be, while the higher the numbers, the slower the GIF will be.

To view how long each frame appears before switching to the next one, click the Play button in the Timeline Panel. The GIF will play in the workspace at the set speed.

You can select the frame by clicking it to change the delay on a single frame. Selected frames are a lighter gray than the rest.

Then, click the arrow next to the speed (currently 0.2) to select a new delay time from the options. You can choose from no delay, up to 10 seconds. If you want a custom time, click Other and type in your value.

Once you select a new frame rate time, click on it, and you will see the new time displayed under the frame without the other frames affected.

This is the best technique if you want the frames to have different delays, so some are shown for longer than others.

If you want all the frames to change at the same speed so they are shown for an equal amount of time, you can simultaneously change all the frame speeds. 

To change all the frame rates, select all the frames by clicking on the first frame, holding in Shift, and clicking on the last frame. Check that each frame is highlighted, indicating they are all selected.

Then, click the arrow next to the time on the first frame and select the new frame rate you want to appear for every frame.

You will see every frame change to the new time set. You can click the Play button again to check the new GIF speed.

How To Export The Edited GIF In Photoshop

Once you have finished editing the GIF, individual frames, and adjusting the GIF speed if needed, you need to export the GIF from Photoshop correctly to ensure it works as expected.

To export the edited GIF, once you’re happy with it, go to File > Export > Save for Web (Legacy) or use the shortcut Shift + Control + Alt + S (Win) or Shift + Command + Option + S (Mac).

You will see the Save for Web panel appear.

Then, choose a GIF preset from the Preset options at the top of the panel.

Choosing a preset will automatically adjust the settings, so usually, you won’t need to edit the settings at all. You can choose between Dithered or presets with No Dither and between the color ranges; 128, 64, and 32.

The dithered option uses available colors to add shading to the GIF, while the No dithered option chooses the closest color available. Ultimately, this means that dithered GIFs are of higher quality than GIFs with no dither, but the file size is generally much larger.

The color range options determine how many colors will be shown in the final GIF. The more colors you include, the better the GIF’s quality, but the larger the file size.

After selecting a preset, you can manually adjust the settings to customize them.

You can also change the GIF dimensions, affecting the file size. You can reduce the file size without affecting the quality, but increasing the size too much will reduce the quality. You can also set how much the GIF loops.

Once you have adjusted the export settings, click Save, and you can choose a save location for your edited GIF.

Article By

Brendan Williams

Hey, I'm Brendan! I'm a professional photographer and photo retoucher who has spent the majority of his career shooting or retouching outdoor lifestyle and social media campaigns for brands like G-Adventures, xoxo Bella, P&G, Fitbit, Chevy, Tourism California, and more. These days I primarily focus my efforts on this site, creating guides and tutorials that I wish I had earlier in my career. Each week I publish new tutorials on Photography, Photoshop, Lightroom, and Canva to help you unlock new skills and bring your creativity to new levels! Everything you learn here is backed by real experience, so you can finally skip the fluff and focus only on what matters.

Continue Reading:

How To Invert Colors In Photoshop

Learn how to quickly invert the colors of an image or a layer mask in Photoshop along with tips to selectively invert your colors instead!

How To Invert A Selection In Photoshop

Learn the importance of learning to invert a selection in Photoshop with the help of simple keyboard shortcuts and several other methods.

How To Use The Gradient Tool In Photoshop

Learn the ins and outs of how to use the gradient tool in Photoshop with useful tips to help make the most of this impressive tool!

Adobe Lightroom System Requirements For Mac & PC

Here's a breakdown of the system requirements for Adobe Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC to make sure it will run smoothly on your computer.

How To Add A Watermark In Lightroom Classic & CC

Learn how to add a text or graphic watermark to a photo in Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC to protect your photos from theft.

How To Use Dehaze In Lightroom

Learn how to use dehaze in Lightroom along with five different ways you can use the dehaze tool to improve your images in Lightroom.

35+ Best Fonts For Logos In Canva

Here's a list of the best fonts for logos in Canva to help give you inspiration in your next logo design!

How To Create Curved Text In Canva

Learn how to quickly create curved text in Canva desktop and mobile with just a few clicks to spruce up any design!

35 Best Fonts For Teachers In Canva

Discover the best fonts for teachers in Canva to help with your next worksheet or presentation for your class!

The 9 Best SD Cards For Sony

Discover the best SD cards for Sony to find the most reliable and best valued memory cards for your photo and video needs.

The Best Canon Lens For Low Light (10 Top Picks)

Get a complete view of the best Canon lenses for low light photography and video along with tips to make the right buying decision.

Affinity Photo VS Photoshop – Which Should You Choose?

Let's take a deep look at the similarities and differences between Affinity Photo and Photoshop to see which program you should pick.