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Graphics Interchange Format (.gif)

GIF which stands for Graphics Interchange Format is developed by CompuServe to store multiple bitmap images in a single file. It supports animation, interlacing, multi-page, storing metadata, and preserving layers. GIF also supports transparency, which is a 1-bit per pixel plane-only mask using a color index. It's a lossless image format that uses LZW (Lempel–Ziv–Welch), a universal compression algorithm.

GIF has been extremely popular for many years, because of its simple structure and compatibility. It's widely known among internet users, when animated GIFs started to be used for short videos, internet memes, and other mediums to convey emotion and feelings, as a reaction in online messaging.

GIF Specifications

Name Graphics Interchange Format
File Extension(s) .gif
Category Raster Images
Use For Small animations and low-resolution video clips, internet memes, low-color sprite data for games, and sharp-edged graphics with a limited number of colors, such as logos.
Developer CompuServe
MIME Type(s) image/gif
License While the GIF format itself is open, the LZW compression algorithm was covered by patents until the early 2000s. As of July 7, 2004, all relevant patents have expired and the GIF format may be used freely
File Sample(s) N/A
Compression Lossless (LZW)
Max Dimensions 65,536×65,536 pixels
Color Modes
Mode Bits Description
Greyscale N/A GIF does not include a dedicated greyscale format.
True color N/A GIF does not support true color pixels.
Indexed color 8 Each color in a GIF palette is defined as 8 bits each of red, green, and blue (24 total bits per pixel).
Greyscale with alpha N/A GIF does not provide a dedicated greyscale format.
True color with alpha N/A GIF does not support true color pixels.
Animation Yes
Transparency Yes
Interlacing Yes
Metadata Yes
Layers Yes
Multipage Yes
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