How to Quickly Create an Animated GIF on Ubuntu Using GIMP

Animated GIFs have become very popular, especially in the last couple of years, with many popular online social media platforms including Twitter and Facebook announcing support for them. Even the Google Photos app on Android phones creates an animated GIF whenever it detects several images taken within a very short time interval.

While animated GIFs are mostly used for creating a humorous effect, they are also used by professionals to easily explain steps involved in a particular process – for example, to introduce a new feature to users of a certain software.

Although there are many Windows-based tools that help you create such animations, if you’re a Linux user and want to create an animated GIF, you can easily do that using the GIMP image manipulation tool. In this article we will discuss how to do this on Ubuntu by presenting an easy-to-understand example.

On Ubuntu you can easily download and install GIMP through the Ubuntu Software Centre. Alternatively, you can head to the tool’s official website and download the latest version from there.

In my case, I used the Ubuntu Software Centre to download GIMP. However, when I tried to execute the tool, it either simply didn’t start or crashed – running the gimp command on the command line showed a Segmentation Fault error. After a bit of Googling, I learned that the problem could be insufficient user privileges – when run for the first time, GIMP tries to create a specific directory in your home directory. Manually creating that directory did the trick. You can learn more about the solution here.

To create an animated GIF, you first need to have a set of images. In my case, I had the following six images:


Yes, you guessed right. These are screen-shots of my Ubuntu desktop, each with a different background image.

Now, open the GIMP tool, and load the images one by one by using the “File -> Open as Layers…” option. This way each image is treated as an animation layer. Think of these layers as pages of a physical animation book that you flick through to create animations.

Moving on, all the layers you’ve loaded will be visible in the “Layers” window.


If you can’t see this window, either press “Ctrl + L” or open it by heading to “Windows -> Dockable Dialogs -> Layers.”

Similar to the Layers window, there’s also a “Toolbox” window which contains options that can be used to edit these layers – just select a layer and then head to this window to change colours, add text, and more.


Once you’re done with the editing work (if any), just head to the “File -> Export As…” option to save the file as a .gif file. Make sure you check the As animation option when you’re presented with Export settings while saving the file.


That’s it. This will create the animated GIF that you want. In my case, the following animation was produced:


As you can see, it’s not difficult to create an animated GIF using GIMP despite the tool itself being not-so-easy to learn if you’re a new to it. Of course, you can create much better GIFs as you start learning the tool more thanks to a plethora of features and options it provides.