How to Add Text to an Animated GIF Using Photoshop [Quick Tip]

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Brittany Leaning
Brittany Leaning



What's the deal with animated GIFs these days?

In January 2014, Pinterest announced that they were now supporting animated GIFs. Then, in June 2014, Twitter followed suit and announced that they also were supporting animated GIFs.Otherwise known as "Graphics Interchange Format," you'll find these looping, animated clips featured all over social media, blogs, websites, and more. Heck, you might even remember them from your former MySpace days.Download Now: The Marketer's Guide to Photoshop

These cute animated videos can be used for fun, or also as marketing collateral to help promote your products, services, or events. Take the customized animated GIF above as an example. This animated GIF is a clip from the movie The Big Lebowski and was taken from With the text on top, it can be used to promote our INBOUND 2014 conference in a fun way.

Want to learn how you can add text to animated GIFs, too? Read on for the full tutorial.

1. Search GIPHY for the perfect animated GIF.

Go to and search for a keyword or phrase. This could be a TV show, a movie character, or a general verb or noun. See an example of this below:


Each GIF is tagged with a few words or phrases that describe what the animation is from, and what feeling you get as a result of watching it. As you search for your keyword or phrase, you'll see a list of GIFs pop up in a tile format. Click on one of these GIFs to see a bigger version of it. 

Here's the GIF we chose: 



When using a GIF from, make sure you properly cite the original source. For more information on how to do this, check out GIPHY's FAQ page. You can also use a GIF that you've created on your own if you'd prefer not to use GIPHY.

2. Right click and choose "Save Image As..."

Once you've found the perfect GIF, right click on the image and select "Save Image As..." A screen will pop up where you can name your file and save it to your desktop, downloads, or some other folder.


3. Open your GIF with Photoshop.

Once you've saved your GIF on your computer, open that file with Photoshop. If you don't have Photoshop, you can also add text to your GIF using GIMP, a downloadable program for manipulating images.

4. Show your Timeline.

When you first open your GIF in Photoshop, you'll probably see a set of layers in the right side panel, but the image won't be animated. In order to access this animation, click "Window" > "Timeline" to show the sequence of images in a linear animation. You can view the animation by clicking on any frame in the timeline and hitting the space bar.


5. Make sure have the top layer selected in the right side panel.

This step is important if you want the text to be applied throughout the entire animation. In this case, the top layer is "Layer 8." If you have a different layer selected, your text will only show on the layer you've selected, and on the layers below it. For example, if I selected "Layer 6" here instead of "Layer 8," my text would only show on layers 1 through 6.


6. Add text to your GIF.

Here's the part you've been waiting for! To add text to your GIF, select the Text tool in the left side toolbar and drag a box over the image. Start typing your message out -- in this case we wrote "Goin' to INBOUND 2014!" to complement the excited emotion shown in the GIF. To change the font, weight, size, color, and alignment, look to the top text bar.


If you did this step correctly, you'll see your text appear at the top of your layer panel. If your text is not the top layer, that means you didn't have the top layer selected in step five. (If that's the case, go on and drag the text layer to appear at the top.)


If you'd like to test your GIF to see how it's working, simply navigate down to your timeline, click on a frame, and hit the space bar to watch it in action.

7. Select "File" > "Save for Web..."

Once you've finished adding text to your GIF and you're satisfied with your final product, you'll need to save it in a .gif format. To do this, click "File" > "Save for Web..." 


If you select the typical "File" > "Save As..." setting, your GIF will be saved as an immovable image and will not animate properly.

8. Double-check your settings, then click "Save..."

Once you've clicked "File > "Save for Web..." you'll be brought to the screen below. If you'd like to change any color or sizing settings, you can do that here. Otherwise, simply click "Save..."


9. Name your file and save it.

Once you've clicked "Save..." you'll be brought to a screen where you'll need to name your file and select the folder where you want this file to live. After you've named your file and put it in the appropriate location, click "Save."


10. Post your new animated GIF everywhere!

Voila! See this final Big Lebowski GIF with an INBOUND 2014 twist: 


Now that you know how to take a clever animated GIF and add customized text to it, you'll be able to use these in blog posts, on your website, or in social media posts.

How do you use animated GIFs in your marketing? Tell us in the comments below!

Marketer's Guide to Photoshop

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