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

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88 responses to this post.

  1. I don’t remember it being like this CS3. But progress is progress.


  2. Posted by Doc Holiday on December 12, 2008 at 8:15 am

    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.


  3. This doesn’t seem like a very good solution — there mist be some kind of plug-in which can also handle saving animated GIFs. Any ideas?


  4. Huh? How does this work on OS X? I can’t select the animated gif.


    • Posted by Anonymous on April 5, 2010 at 2:55 pm

      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 :P and has a much smaller mem leak.


  5. Posted by ImmortalBlack on February 23, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    Mine doesnt even show Video Frames To Layers… It just shows WIA and notes


    • 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.


  6. you are a life saver.. this worked perfectly!!


  7. It works great on the PC, but there is no place to type a file name on the Mac. How do you do it on the Mac?

    Gale Franey


  8. Posted by selami on February 24, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    @galefraney u can give the direct path to image


  9. 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)


  10. 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.


  11. 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.


  12. Posted by Anonymous on March 11, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    Thanks for the great solution!


  13. Posted by Anonymous on April 10, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    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.


  14. Posted by Anonymous on May 14, 2009 at 8:07 am

    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?


  15. Posted by jimbo jones on May 31, 2009 at 3:43 am

    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”


  16. Posted by thijs on June 19, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    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.


  17. Thaks dear friend


  18. 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.


    • Posted by Cheryle on September 29, 2009 at 7:56 pm

      THANK YOU! I am delighted to see the mystery of GIFS resolved for MAC on this forum. Azezaroo, I can’t stop smiling.


    • Posted by Anna on January 20, 2010 at 6:25 am

      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!


  19. Posted by hausofwong on August 6, 2009 at 7:03 am

    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…


  20. Posted by Anonymous on August 6, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    thanks adum . . . surprised it is this difficult for a program which costs hundreds of dollars.


  21. Posted by anon-and-on on August 12, 2009 at 11:57 am

    ^^ 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)….


  22. 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.


  23. Posted by self on August 18, 2009 at 12:55 am

    doesn’t work with the 64x version of CS4, only wprks with the 32x one…


  24. Posted by Jgtilove on August 21, 2009 at 5:38 am

    Thanks so much, been struggling w/ this for a while. Doing it that very way… Such a time saver.. :)


  25. Posted by RocketArtist on August 26, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    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.


  26. Posted by $hadowpt on September 8, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    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.


  27. On the Mac:

    1) Open your gif in Quicktime
    2) Export as MOV, using PNG compression (or anything else that’s lossy)
    3) In Photoshop, Import Video as Layers

    Works like a charm.


  28. Posted by mofaha on October 19, 2009 at 2:48 am

    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.


  29. Posted by claud on October 20, 2009 at 7:16 am

    thanks. it works smoothly.


  30. Posted by Ben on October 22, 2009 at 12:14 am

    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.


  31. 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!! :D


  32. Posted by John on December 2, 2009 at 8:20 am




  33. 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?!


  34. Posted by Zagros on December 18, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    it really works .. thx sooooo much ^__^


  35. 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)


  36. Posted by Deb on January 25, 2010 at 3:54 am

    thanks – that was driving me nuts!


  37. Posted by Yasson on February 4, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    Thank you so much))) It was impossible to guess about “*” this is strange move from Adobe O_O


  38. 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!


  39. Posted by armageddon on February 13, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    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?


  40. Posted by Gruensand on February 14, 2010 at 1:32 am


    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 ……


    • Posted by Anonymous on February 14, 2010 at 9:13 pm

      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.


  41. 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!


  42. Posted by Pissed on March 15, 2010 at 8:38 am

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


    • Posted by Anonymous on March 23, 2010 at 11:59 pm

      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.


      • Posted by eliteforz on March 28, 2010 at 1:52 pm

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

  43. Posted by sup on March 28, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    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.


  44. Posted by Graham on April 2, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    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 :-)


  45. Posted by Serge on April 7, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    Graham, you totally rock!


  46. Posted by Erica on April 28, 2010 at 4:46 am

    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.


  47. Posted by Anonymous on May 17, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    Thank you so much for this. This helped me a lot. :D


  48. Posted by Anonymous on June 26, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    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


  49. Posted by Cereal Pirate on June 27, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    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 =)


  50. Posted by freepunjabiwallpaper on July 29, 2010 at 9:40 am

    it is not work


  51. install Potoshop7 with CS4 this is the Best solution


  52. 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.


  53. that’s a simple method that never im thinking


  54. nice informasi lh iku


  55. […] your animated GIF into Photoshop (details), or create your animation from still […]


  56. Posted by frankie on February 24, 2011 at 9:05 am

    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.


  57. Works like a charm! Thanks!!


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  59. Hi all I essentially adore your write-up. In case you may choose to speak related to it,I would personally adore to speak along with you, my name is Frankie. My personal electronic mail is over. Many thanks!


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  61. Very helpful, thank you very much!


  62. Posted by Jeff on October 18, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    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


  63. […] your animated GIF into Photoshop (details), or create your animation from still […]


  64. 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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  68. Posted by Nazia Ahmed on November 8, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    Thank you so much for the tip!


  69. Oh wow holy shit it works


  70. […] How to open animated gifs in photoshop cs4 | graphic […]


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