File Type Graphical Interchange Format File IconGraphical Interchange Format File
File Format Standard (developed by CompuServe)
Usage Referenced by an application; not meant to be opened manually; may run a program or script when opened
Rank ★ ★ ★  Common

GIF files are saved in a compressed, indexed-color format and are commonly used for Web graphics. They use lossless compression, which means they do not lose any quality when compressed.

The GIF format supports up to 256 colors (including transparent pixels), which may be predefined or selected by the user. GIFs can also be animated, making them popular choices for buttons and other small Web graphics. However, since GIF images can only contain 256 colors, they are not ideal for digital photographs. This is why most digital photos are saved as .JPG files.

Open With

IconMicrosoft Windows Photos

IconMicrosoft Windows Photo Viewer

IconMicrosoft Paint


IconApple Preview

IconApple Safari

IconAdobe Photoshop



IconOther picture viewer or Web browser

Updated June 1, 2009