Twitter increased maximum gif size to 15MB

Twitter has today announced that it is increasing the maximum gif file size you can upload with a tweet to 15MB (from 5MB) meaning we are going to see more and more gifs in our twitter feeds!
10 years ago nobody would have predicted the continued rise of the gif. They were basically a 256 colour, low-res, grainy image format with a very basic frame animation property and transparency.
Gifs were almost abandoned when the much higher-res PNG was launched with its own transparency capability and with loads of super compressed video formats available why would anyone want to use a gif anymore? Somehow they survived and they are more popular than ever…

Social media & smartphones changed everything and Twitter’s support of the format meant people have been able to make their own looping mini clips or take advantage of the huge libraries available directly within Twitter’s app itself and via loads of websites like etc to make their tweets come to life.

The main draw as a format is their almost 100% backward-compatibility with almost any device or browser. You can easily turn video clips into gifs using photoshop and on Twitter gifs are perfectly suited to our short attention-spans when scrolling through our feeds on a mobile device – they also play without being too heavy on battery usage on smartphones.
So that just leaves file size. File size of gif’s has always been an issue as they are simply a series of 256 colour images (frames) captured into one image file with a couple of properties to set the speed of animation and whether it loops or not. The gif above is 12 frames & 800KB (0.8MB) in file size – when you open it up in Photoshop which are set to change every 0.1 of a second and then loop forever – see below:
The size of the file normally is dictated by the sheer number of frames and pixel size of the image. The image below is a similar physical pixel size as the image above but has 157 frames and as a result is 11MB – the only way to reduce the file size is to reduce the image size or chop out some of the frames which would make it more jerky but get the same effect.
So Twitter’s change is probably a more realistic limit for an average gif but might be a little high for mobile users on 3G connections. Either way you can expect to see more and more tweets taking advantage over the next few weeks…
Note: The new file size limit is only available for tweets posted via for now whilst it updates it’s apps.

Written by Oli Yeates


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