How to open animated gifs in Photoshop CS4

If you try to open an animated gif in Photoshop CS4 it only shows the first frame.

  • 1. Go to File->Import->Video Frames to Layers
  • 2. In the File Name box type “*” ( or you can type the name manually) The window will now show every type of file
  • 3. Select your gif and you have done

solution by adum

93 thoughts on “How to open animated gifs in Photoshop CS4

  1. You forgot that you need to install 40+ megs of Quicktime malware crap to import them and then you get to watch how you Vista media player goes to hell as the battle for player dominance ensues.

    CS3 was the same…and they should all hang for killing off Imageready.

    1. You need to type out the file name with he extension and it will import (on a mac) (you type it into the finder text box on the top right of your import pop-up)

      Abobe produce very buggy low quality crap since CS and this is such a perfect example of why I still have PS7 installed. It runs on 40mb 😛 and has a much smaller mem leak.

    1. The Video Frames To Layers option isn’t available in the 64-bit version of CS4. You have to run the 32-bit version for this task. I know. Weird.

  2. I don’t understand …. I choose Import / Video Frames to Layers, then navigate to the file folder but I am unable to click on any of the gif files, they are grayed out, and there is no field to type in *.gif (as there is with the PC)

  3. You can’t open an animated GIF on the Mac in Photoshop CS3 or CS4.

    Import/Video Frames to Layers does not work consistently.

    Opening an animated GIF in Fireworks does not give you the editing capability of Photoshop. Even if you save the Fireworks file as a Photoshop file (PSD), if you open that file in Photoshop you only get one frame.

    The only solutions are (1) to keep your old ImageReady from CS2 to open existing animated GIfs and (2) save all the new animated GIFs you create separately as PSD files.

  4. Oh, that’s too bad. I can open them in Photoshop CS4 on my PC, but I’ll be teaching Photoshop CS4 to a group of students who will all be on the Mac. I wanted to do some demonstrations with simple gif animations … I guess that idea is out.


  5. Import animated gif to psd:

    1. Convert .gif to .mov in fireworks:
    In fireworks: open>(select file)>save as (animated gif) (no extension)>close
    (find the file and add extension .mov)

    2. Then:
    In psd>open>(select .mov file from fireworks) format must be set to quicktime movie in open box, enable: all readable documents>open (it should come in as a move with no frames, but should be animated)

    3. Then:
    resave as .mov from psd:
    File>export>render video>(quick time export:quicktime movie)>(rename)>render

    4. Then:
    Importing movies to photohsop:
    file>import>video frames to layers>(select file)>(to limit frames) select range only>(shift key to set slider to frames to limit movie to)>ok

    5. Then: edit frames and save as animated gif:
    File>save for web and devices>gif>(rename)>save

    6. Be sure to save a psd version to re-edit latter if desired.

  6. Holy Adobe… This works indeed on a Mac Intel CS4 etc, but did I really pay all that, to do all this, to make a little change in my CS1 animated gifs? These Adobe Maffia deserve a Big Bonus don’t they?

  7. To open an animated .gif on mac cs4, click [open], then in the open file dialogue box click [format] and select Quicktime Movie, then open your gif.

    Now click the options in the animation window and select “Flatten Frames into Layers”… now click the options again and select “Make Frames From Layers”

      1. Easiest option for Mac users. Load the animated gif file in Preview (it comes standard with your Mac OS)

        The individual frames appear down the right hand side. Just drag them directly onto the photoshop icon in the dock.

        Job Done!

  8. I’m on a PC with cs4, but in the file browser i don’t even see any filenames, unless they are .mov .mpeg etc. gif doesn’t show up. if the gif is in the folder though, just type in the name of the file and click open/load, and it will actually do it.
    I thought Adobe made this impossible just for the sake of their hustle, but i’m happy this still works.

  9. oh hello. Just came across this page.

    actually there is a much easier way of doing that without using an import function. as some users don’t even have that command,

    You can just as easily just go file > open as..

    then choose quicktime movie. It’s as easy as that.

    1. This works beautifully to open the gif and see the frames in the animation palette. I double clicked on the layer in the layer window allowed me to then edit each frame of the animation. I needed to change colors. Yay! Thank you Azezaroo!

  10. I found another quick and dirty way of opening up an animated GIF on a Mac using Photoshop CS4 Standard:

    – Open up the GIF in Quicktime. (I just dragged and dropped into onto the Dock icon)

    – Save the GIF as a self contained movie (.mov)

    – Import it via the method described above.

    Works like a charm…

  11. ^^ what they said.

    why pay shedloads for an application that doesnt do what a). it prevously allowed the user to do very quickly and easily, and now b). has a really inefficient UX/work-a-round process in its place??!

    Its all very bad for Adobes reputation as both GUI/UI/UX and application development world leaders.. maybe they want to create work/money for 3rd party plugin developers?? But then what do they care, theyve long since eaten up, and in turn monopolized, any real market competition out there.

    I wonder if Bill Gates/MS bought majority shares in Adobe (pre-Macromedia)….

  12. It has absolutely nothing to do with Adobe or Photoshop. It has to do with proprietary rights of the company Compuserve’s gif (graphic interchange format). Other companies such as Adobe must pay a royalty fee … so don’t blame Adobe or Photoshop or try to conjure up conspiracy theories. Photoshop is one of the best software apps for any digital artist or photographer. The software continually improves and Photoshop CS4 is beyond amazing with the new Open GL features. Besides, Flash still opens gifs without any problems at all, and places the frames as keyframes on the timeline.

  13. I have both CS3 extended and CS4 extended running on 64 bit Vista.
    There is not a (File->Import-> Video Frames to Layers) option in my CS4, but the option is there in CS3. When I try the solution in CS3 however, and type the suggested “” in the file name box, it jumps me out of the folder I was trying to load the file from and still only allows me to see files of the type that it wants to import.

  14. Easy task for Windows users, dont know if it works for others.

    Click File -> Open as…

    Select your animated gif and choose the type as Quicktime movie format.
    Wait a bit, boom theres your editable gif in photoshop.

    The legendary $hadow strikes again.

  15. Importing animated gifs in this way does not preserve individual frame timings, so if you’re hoping to edit an existing animated gif which has a large number of frames with different delays, PS is now completely useless. Adobe blandly state that Fireworks is now their gif editing and creation application. Unfortunately it’s a bloated abortion of an application.

  16. None of the above solutions worked for me. I’m using Mac OS X version 10.6.1 (Snow Leopard) on an Intel Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro, with Photoshop CS4 verion 11.0.

    My Photoshop doesn’t have an [Open As…] item in its [File] menu, and the [Format] drop-down box in [Open…] doesn’t include “QuickTime Movie” as one of the options. In fact, my version of QuickTime Player can’t open GIFs at all!

    The only workaround I’ve found after almost two hours of browsing help menus and forums is this:

    1. Download GIMP (the current version as of this writing is 2.6.7)
    2. Create a new image with the same dimensions as your GIF. This seems pointless, but if you don’t do it this way, GIMP will preserve the frame durations and Photoshop will treat the end result like a normal GIF, showing only the first frame.
    3. Go to [File] > [Open As Layers…] and select your GIF
    4. Delete the Background layer.
    5. Go to [File] > [Save As…]
    6. Click on “Select File Type (By Extension)” at the bottom of the dialog.
    7. Scroll down, select “Photoshop image”, and click Save.
    8. Open the new file in Photoshop. You will need to make it into an animation again with the Animation tools.

    What a pain.

  17. omg… lol i can’t believe it was that simple. i tried like 8 things before finding this… and then seeing all i needed was quotes and to type in the file extension… my god i feel like a dufus.. although i did try to type it w/ the file extension minus the quotes… lol… ah well… A HUGE THANK YOU!! 😀

  18. is File->Import-> Video Frames to Layers even included in photoshop 4? i installed quicktime player but that made no difference. must i purchase quicktime pro in order to see this import option?

    does anyone know if i can run imageready CS on the same machine as photoshop CS4 – just so i can open an animated gif?!

  19. Adobe tossers!
    Becoming like MS products – removing useful fundamental functions. Pay more for less functions eh?
    Fireworks crashed when I try to add text to the animated gif.
    Will use a specialist old gif animation program if I can find one.
    BTW I want to import, edit, and export with max control.
    I changed to Flash years ago but sometimes you have to use anim gifs (goofs)

  20. Why…………..! Why would Adobe do this????? Why remove a product like Image Ready and combine it with Photoshop without the ability to re-open the animated GIF’s you created in Photoshop?

    I build websites for clients and, as was said previously, sometimes you need animated GIF’s.

    Adobe…… Bring back Image Ready (or at least the functionality of it in Photoshop – PLEASE!

  21. umm…what if you have to open an animated gif in CS3 and don’t have quicktime or the ability to download quicktime?
    any solutions or am I SOL?

  22. Hello,

    why so intricate, Photoshop allows you to open GIF images simply….Import > Video Frames > enter the full file name as shown on example ” sample.gif ” it’s important to type at the end *.gif ……

    1. but that doesn’t work if you don’t have quicktime. An error message comes up saying you need quicktime 7.1 or higher or whatever it is.

  23. Easiest option for Mac users. Load the animated gif file in Preview (it comes standard with your Mac OS)

    The individual frames appear down the right hand side. Just drag them directly onto the photoshop icon in the dock.

    Job Done!

  24. I’ve been doing animated banners for 12 years. Just upgraded to PS4 and now I’m fuckt… Thanks Adobe !! Another great invention… Wankers..

    1. ey, you’ll be fine as long as you also have the latest version of Quicktime installed! who knows why the hell that is necessary, but it apparently is. Good luck.

      1. PS4 crashes and burns for me with this tactic. Got quicktime so idk what is up with that…

  25. Besides being such an awkward way to open gifs this doesn’t keep the individual time for each frame. It divides total time into the number of frames equally. If some of your frames suppose to hold longer than others you have to set the time manually for each frame again.

  26. I have managed to do this on CS4 on a Mac.

    You can do as described above, select File > Import > Video frames to Layers. Now type the image name in the spotlight search box on the open dialogue, now it will let you select gif files! Not ideal as it will show you loads of other gifs by the same name, so it can be tricky getting the right one, but at least it gets the job done and preserves the times of the frames 🙂

  27. Im currently using CS4 and i can’t figure out how to open gif. files I’ve tried to import them as video frames to layer BUT for some reason I still cant open them. I tried just typing in the file name and opening and I have nothing.

    Someone please help me.

  28. i am having trouble saying a gif on photoshop i have a mac 😦
    when i go to click on save for web its not clikable its grayed out

  29. Hey man thanks for the tip ….. I had to use spotlight and type in blahblah.gif and then I was able to select it and it seems to have imported fine.

    in cs4 ps I didnt get an option to use the * method like you advised …. I hope this helps others out =)

  30. Hi , in cs3 which I have if I want to open a animated gif . I use a solution someone told me some time ago. Open Photoshop go to import > video frames to layers>and it opens a window with 2 fields in the bottom part ,one is “File name” and “Files of type”. By default my photoshop it does’t show me the .gif files. So I write in the “File name” field *.gif and the gif files appear then I choose one at a time and open them with no problem , convert them to frame animation and so on. It also a problem in cs 2 with the .Mov files but the solution i use is just the same . In the ” File name ” field write *.mov . It should work , for me it works every time.

    Hope it will be for use to you.

  31. This worked for me on a MAC using CS4 which found on another forum:

    To open animated gif in CS4 on a MAC:
    1. Go to open, select your GIF, then in the bottom left corner of the open file dialogue box select Quicktime Movie as the format, then open your GIF.
    2. You’ll need to open your animations window by going to window -> animation. This will bring up the time line.
    3. If you want to have all of the frames broken up into layers, click the options in the animation window, and select “Flatten Frames into Layers”.
    This will give you access to all the frames as layers and you can now edit the GIF as though it was a movie.

    1. this doesn’t work for me. it still opens up as one layer and the flatten frames into layers option is frayed out. :\

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  33. This is another near-solution – open the GIF in Preview (a Mac thing) and drag your layers out as separate TIFFs from the sidebar. Then open them all in PS and copy/paste into one file.
    That’s not easy but, gets you over the hump

  34. here’s another one via flash:
    – import the gif into flash (maybe you’ll have to adjust the stage size)
    – export as png sequence 24bit
    – in PS: ctrl+o, select first image from sequence, tick “image sequence” in the dialogue box, then “open”
    (- save: file>save for web and devices)

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  36. i have cs4 but i don’t see video player at all on windows 10 was wondering if you could help me out i tryed to download quicktime player but it didn’t work

  37. i’m having trouble downloading quicktime for my windows 10 since i don’t see video frames layers on my ps cs4 was wondering if you could help me out

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