This article analyzed by MiniTool Software mainly introduces the meaning of GIF format and its alternatives, including APNG, WebP, AVIF, MNG, FLIF, AVG, Spire, CSS3, HTML5, WebM, etc. It explains why they are regarded as substitutes for GIFs.

What Is GIF?

The GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) is a bitmap image format designed by a team at the online services provider CompuServe led by American computer scientist Steve Wilhite. This image format was first released on June 15, 1987, and it has come into widespread usage on the World Wide Web (WWW) for its wide support and portability between applications and operating systems (OSes) since then.

GIF supports up to 8 bits per pixel for each image, permitting a single image to reference its palette of up to 256 different colors selected from the 24-bit RGB color space. Also, it supports animations and allows a separate palette of up to 256 colors for each frame.

Advantages and Disadvantages of GIF

GIF is less suitable for reproducing color photographs and other images with color gradients due to those palette limits. Yet, it is well-suited for simpler images like graphics or logos with solid areas of color.

GIF images are compressed using the LZW (Lempel-Ziv-Welch) lossless data compression technology to reduce the file size without degrading the visual quality. That compression technique was patented in 1985. Controversy over the licensing agreement between CompuServe and the software patent holder, Unisys in 1994 spurred the development of the PNG (Portable Network Graphics) standard. By 2004, all of the relevant patents had expired.

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Besides, GIF lacks alpha transparency and has relatively large file size. However, it is still widely used and the only animated image format supported in nearly all major image viewers and web browsers.

Animated GIF Alternatives

Since GIF has limitations, you may want to find an animated image format to replace GIF, which is barely thought of by image creators. Anyhow, what alternatives does GIF have?


APNG (Animated Portable Network Graphics) is a file format that extends the PNG specification to allow animated images that work similarly to animated GIF files while supporting 24-bit images and 8-bit transparency (not available for GIFs).

APNG has the advantages like smaller library size and compatibility with older non-animated PNGs. Compared with GIF and WebP, APNG has the lowest file size.

Although developed in 2008, APNG reminded low adaption for a long time with only Mozilla Firefox supporting it. Later, Safari, Chrome, Opera, and Edge add support for it. At present, APNG has the widest support in browsers amongst alternatives for GIFs. Also, it’s compatible with some apps for displaying the first frame as a normal PNG image.

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#2 WebP

WebP is a bit newer modern image format designed by Google and published in 2010. It also supports 8-bit transparency and 24-bit images. WebP offers superior lossless and lossy compression for images on the web. With WebP, web masters and developers can build smaller and richer images that make the web faster.

However, WebP sometimes displays a broken image or alt text. Yet, it has gained support in almost all major web browsers except for IE.


AVIF (AV1 Image File Format) is an image file format specification for saving images or image sequences compressed with AV1 in the HEIF (High-Efficiency Image File Format) file format. It competes with HEIC that adapts the same container format and is created upon ISOBMFF (ISO/IEC base media file format), but HEVC (High-Efficiency Video Coding) for compression.

Although finalized in 2019 and as the newest alternative to GIF, AVIF is already supported by Chrome and Opera. Firefox and other browsers’ support is on the way. It supports lossy and lossless compression as well as reduces file size greatly making it seem promising.

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#4 MNG

MNG (Multiple-image Network Graphics) is a graphics file format for animated images announced in 2001. It’s closely related to the PNG format with one applies to still images and the other applies to animated images.

Currently, MNG isn’t supported by any major browser. Yet, it has very good tooling support thanks to it being supported by ImageMagick that is sued as an image processing library or backend by many other apps.


FLIF (Free Lossless Image Format) is a novel lossless image format that outperforms PNG, lossless WebP, lossless BPG, lossless JPEG2000, as well as JPEG XR in terms of compression ratio. It allows displaying an image in lower quality while it is still downloading.

FLIF isn’t supported by any native browser, but javascript browser polifill enables you to use FLIF in any browser although not fully support animated FLIFs.

#6 Animated SVG

Animation of Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) is an open XML (Extensible Markup Language)-based standard vector graphics format. It is possible through various means including scripting, styling, SMIL (Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language), and libraries.

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#7 Sprite

In computer graphics, a sprite is a two-dimensional bitmap that is integrated into a larger scene, usually in a 2D video game. You apply the image as a background image to an element on your page. Then, use the steps () timing function of CSS3 keyframe animation to iterate through the frames.

Sprite has a limited use case. It is well suited to animations that SVG isn’t a good fit like pixel and that requires transparency or an extremely high degree of control. Being lightweight, sprite sheet animations provides a much greater level of control than a GIF.

#8 CSS3

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is a style sheet language used for describing the presentation of a document written in a markup language such as HTML. CSS animations are a little bit stand-out compared to other animated images for it defines the layout of websites.

You can add movement to a website by changing individual CSS properties within a defined time. Objects can grow, alter position, shape, or color. CSS3 has transitions and more complicated keyframe animations enabling entire objects to move smoothly across the page.

#9 HTML5

HTML5 is a markup language used for structuring and presenting content on the World Wide Web. Although it is not an image format, it incorporates video clips into websites as smoothly as it is with images. A few video formats serve as the replacements GIF nearly perfect like WebM, H264 (MP4), and Theora.

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Other GIF Alternatives

In addition to the above possible replacements for animated image format, there are still many other counterparts for GIF.

  • WebM
  • Email
  • MP4 video

These applications are completely compatible with Windows 11/10/8.1/8/7.

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