GIFs are positively delightful.
No matter how you choose to pronounce them. Don’t worry. I say it the way you do.
It doesn’t matter how you say the word because, surprise, the whole concept is to express what words can’t. You may be able to type the stoic phrase, “I am feeling surprised.” But that doesn’t really do it justice.
Instead, it’s better to express your surprise with a GIF!
Isn’t that better?
GIFs are favorite tools of memesters, youngsters, and anyone who occasionally struggles to find the perfect words to express what they’re feeling.
You can probably find a GIF easily and send it via text message. Or attach it to a post on social media.
But how do you include a GIF in an email?
Rest easy, friendo. I’ve got you covered.
Table of Contents
How to Add a GIF to an Email (Gmail)
Gmail is my favorite email platform. Why? Because, well, it’s just better.
Don’t tell the Outlook guys I said that. They’re busy reading the next section.
You, you’re a Gmail person. I can tell. Because you’re reading this section. And because you have great taste.
So let’s channel that good taste into including awesome GIFs in your emails!
Gmail makes it easy. Really. Are you ready?
Just drag and drop.
Yep, that’s it. Once you find a GIF, whether it’s on a website, in a Google GIF search, or as a saved file on your desktop, all you have to do is click on it, drag it to the body of your message (in a Compose window), and release. Your GIF, in all its animated glory, will be placed perfectly in line with the rest of your message.
There’s another method, too, if you like additional steps.
- Click the photo icon. It’s at the bottom of the Compose window.
- Add your GIF. You can drag and drop here under the “Upload” tab, insert a web address, or choose a GIF from one of your albums.
- Choose “Inline.” Unless you want to send the GIF as an attachment and look like a total goofball.
- Click Insert. Voila!
How to Add a GIF to an Email (Outlook)
In Outlook, it’s also pretty simple to add an animated GIF to your email.
This one requires you to have a saved file of the GIF at the ready.
- Start a new email message.
- Select Insert, then Pictures (From File). Here, you’ll be able to browse your computer for files.
- Find the GIF. You just saved it, so hopefully you remember where it is.
- Double click to insert. And you’re done!
You can also drag and drop the GIF file on your computer into the body of your message, but this may not work if you drag and drop from websites.
Also note that Outlook is known to have issues with animated GIFs. Occasionally, you may find that your GIF isn’t animated or isn’t looping correctly. Unfortunately, there is no easy fix for this; feel free to try it a few times, or try a different GIF file—but you might be out of luck.
How to Find the Perfect GIF for Your Email
You don’t want just *any* GIF in your email.
You want the perfect GIF. The one that perfectly captures what you’re feeling. The one most likely to get a laugh.
There are a few ways you can find GIFs, but my favorite method is through Giphy. As the name suggests, Giphy has… all the GIFs. Head to the website and you can browse trending gifs, look at gifs created by specific artists, or more to the point, search for a specific kind of gif.
Search for a mood, an emotion, a type of reaction, or even the distinguishing features of a GIF you’ve seen before. It doesn’t matter. It’s ridiculously easy to search. So try it!
Also note that Giphy has neat addons that can work with Gmail or Outlook, streamlining the GIF selection and inclusion processes.
Giphy isn’t the only tool for finding GIF, nor is it the only addon you can use for Gmail or Outlook. Experiment and see what works best for you!
Tips for Including GIFs in an Email
Okay, last bit.
Just because you can include a GIF in your email doesn’t mean you should.
And just because you should doesn’t mean that any GIF will work.
Whether you’re concerned about email etiquette or just want to be the life of the email thread, these tips can help you:
Know your audience.
GIFs aren’t for everyone. You understand that, right? Just because your bestie from middle school thinks it’s hilarious doesn’t mean your 70-year-old boss will. Think about your audience before you include a GIF and err on the side of not including one. Though it’s a bit of a stereotype, younger people tend to appreciate GIFs more than older people. It’s more appropriate to send a gif to people below you in the hierarchy than to people above. And if you don’t know your audience at all—don’t risk sending a GIF.
Know the occasion.
You’ll also have to think about the occasion—the reason you’re sending this email. Including a celebratory GIF in an email wishing happy birthday to a coworker? Appropriate. Including a GIF of a cartoon cat crying with your “sorry you got fired” message? Not appropriate. Generally speaking, the lighter the tone, the better your GIFs will fit.
GIFs don’t always load correctly in your email, so take a second and make sure they’re formatted correctly. Ensure they’re properly positioned next to the rest of your content, and that they don’t displace any of your important text.
Make sure it’s animated.
The gimmick of animated GIFs is that they’re—you guessed it—animated. Some GIFs aren’t animated at all, which is a great tragedy. Some are animated, but the animation won’t play properly when you embed it in an email. Check to be sure it’s animated before you hit send; oftentimes, a still image of the first frame of an animation isn’t nearly as exciting as the full loop.
Check the file size.
GIFs are a visual form of content. Even though they’re compressed, they can be sizable. Keep an eye on the size of your email before sending it; if your email is too large, it will take longer to send, longer to load, and it could trigger spam filters.
Keep it to a minimum.
In line with this, keep your GIFs to a minimum. No one wants to read a 10-paragraph email that’s punctuated with 20 GIFs. More gifs mean a bigger file size, longer loading times, harder-to-read content, and diminishing returns. Keep it to a minimum and save your other gifs for your guest Buzzfeed submission.
Any email marketer will tell you just how important it is to test an email before you send it. If you’re new to including GIFs in emails, test a few on yourself first. Then, when you’re confident, you can start sending to people you know.
Alright! Now that you know how to add a GIF to an email, you have the perfect tool to make people laugh. Or show them exactly how you’re feeling.
Let’s put it to good use!
There’s a sad truth out there. And I think you’ll feel it in your gut when I tell you.
Most people suck at emailing.
A bit harsh maybe, but it’s true.
We email too much. Or not enough. Or the wrong people. Or the right people at the wrong time.
And sometimes we send GIFs that are just a smidge too inappropriate.
Admittedly, I can’t help you with that last one. But for everything else, there’s EmailAnalytics. It’s an analytics and data visualization tool for Gmail. That’s a fancy way of saying it will help you see just how you’re emailing—and how you can be emailing better.
Sign up for a free trial today and see how it works! My descriptions can only do so much. Once you see the awesome power of this tool, you won’t be able to go back to blind emailing and hoping for the best.
Jayson is a long-time columnist for Forbes, Entrepreneur, BusinessInsider, Inc.com, and various other major media publications, where he has authored over 1,000 articles since 2012, covering technology, marketing, and entrepreneurship. He keynoted the 2013 MarketingProfs University, and won the “Entrepreneur Blogger of the Year” award in 2015 from the Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs. In 2010, he founded a marketing agency that appeared on the Inc. 5000 before selling it in January of 2019, and he is now the CEO of EmailAnalytics.