Live Photos has been around for a while now – it was one of the headline features of the iPhone 6s back in 2015 – but it doesn’t seem to have caught on in quite the way Apple expected. The animated photos created by the feature are fun within the Apple bubble, but don’t have a lot of currency in the outside world.
One way to address this is to convert your Live Photos into a format that’s more easily shared with people on other platforms or using other hardware. (Many social networks accept Live Photos directly, but not all.) And GIFs, the memer’s choice, are the most social, shareable format of all.
Apply a Loop (or Bounce) effect
First you need to find your Live Photo. Open the Photos app and tap the Albums icon at the bottom right. Swipe through the albums page until you see Live Photos, and tap this to open it. Tap your chosen image to open that photo full-screen.
To enable GIF sharing we need to apply an effect. Swipe upwards to bring up an Effects pane below the image (along with some other options such as Related and People which we can ignore).
The two effects we can choose between are Loop and Bounce. Loop puts the animation on a loop (obviously) so that it plays over and over continuously; Bounce makes it play once forward, then backward, then forward again and so on. The main thing is that both are infinite animations, which is necessary for a GIF.
Choose one of these animation effects and tap it so that a blue rectangle surrounds the preview. You’ll notice that the main image is displaying the effect too, and there’s a LOOP or BOUNCE icon at the top left (although like the rest of the details this will disappear if you tap the image).
This is a non-destructive edit. At any point you can return to the image and tap Live again (the default choice in Effects); it will then behave as a standard Live Photo.
Share your GIF
Tap the sharing icon at the bottom left (the square with an arrow pointing upwards from it) and you can share the image as a GIF. Select Mail and email it yourself, and you’ll be able to do whatever you like with the Live Photo in GIF format.
The Animated folder
Once you apply the Loop or Bounce effect, note that the image will be filed in another album as well as Live Photos: it’s called Animated, and if you didn’t previously have any such images it will be created now for this one only. If you ever go back to the Live effect it will be removed from this album.
The Animated folder can be useful for quickly finding Live Photos that are ready to be shared as GIFs (when selecting email attachments, for instance), but in our experience it’s fine to select direct from Live Photos too.
Stabilise the clip
Live Photos tend to have a slightly shaky output, so in this more advanced method we’re going to use an app that can help with this.
You will need to download Motion Stills from the App Store – the app is free to download. You’re now set to convert your JPG-and-MOV Live Photos into sharable GIFs.
Open Google’s Motion Stills and select the Live Photos you want to include. Motion Still will now stabilise the short clip and then provide you with the options to share it, where you can save or send it to a contact.
Google’s app uses video stabilisation algorithms to freeze the background of your short clip and allows the foreground to continue moving. This creates a cinematic effect not only converting it into a stable video, but one that looks professionally edited.
When the file is exported, it saves it as a GIF file, making it easy to share with your friends and family especially if you want to publish it through social media platforms.
As an added bonus, Motion Stills also selects the optimal start point, preventing the video from looking like you took it from your pocket.