GIFs are a fun way to communicate with others and have become highly popular. There are multiple ways to find and send GIFs on an iPhone, let’s look at the option Apple has built-in to iOS as well as some popular third-party choices.

What does GIF stand for?

GIF is an acronym for Graphics Interchange Format. It was developed in the late 1980’s by Steve Wilhite while working at CompuServe and has gained world-wide popularity with its wide support and portability. The most commonly used GIFs are animated.

How to get the iMessage GIF keyboard

As long as you’re running iOS 10 or later you’ll have a GIF keyboard built-in to the Messages app (it’s called #images). There are also third-party options we’ll look at in a moment.

  1. Open Messages and compose a new message or open an existing one
  2. Tap the ‘A’ (Apps) icon to the left of the text field
  3. If #images don’t pop up first, tap the icon with four bubbles in the bottom left corner
  4. Tap on #images to browse, search and choose a GIF

Here’s a more detailed walkthrough of finding GIFs in Messages:

Once you’ve pulled up the #images GIF app in Messages, you can browse and choose from popular GIFs or use the search bar to find something in particular.

Once you’ve chosen a GIF you can add text to go along with it before sending it.

How to get third-party GIF keyboards

If you’d like to get a third-party GIF keyboard for a wider variety of GIFs, two of the most popular options are GIPHY. and GIF Keyboard. Both are free apps and can be downloaded either through the App Store app or within the iMessage App Store.

In Messages, tap on Store (the + icon) to browse and find third-party apps that can be used within Messages. If you download an app through the iMessage App Store a standalone app will also be downloaded to your Home screen in most cases.

If you’re browsing the App Store app, you’ll notice an indication of iMessage App compatibility below the apps icon. Once you download the app, you’ll see it also show up within Messages.

You can also create your own GIFs with GIF Keyboard and GIPHY CAM. and many other third-party apps. For more help getting the most out of your Apple devices, check out our how to guide.

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About the Author

Michael Potuck

Michael is an editor for 9to5Mac. Since joining in 2016 he has written more than 3,000 articles including breaking news, reviews, and detailed comparisons and tutorials.