While the Preview app lets you view almost all types of images on your Mac, the one image format that it cannot handle properly is GIF. GIF images are usually made up of multiple images (often called frames), and they are seen as an animation when these frames in the image change.
When you open a GIF image in the Preview app, what you see is all of the frames of the image in the thumbnails bar instead of the actual animation that you wanted to see. This seems strange as most of the image viewers will show you the actual animation instead of showing all the frames.
Since Preview can’t help you view GIFs on your Mac, you need to look for an alternative option. Fortunately, you do have some ways to easily see the animation of GIF images on your Mac.
Use a Web Browser to View the Animated GIF
Almost all web browsers support viewing GIF images, and you can use any available web browser on your Mac to view an animated GIF.
1. Locate the GIF image in Finder on your Mac. This is the image you will be viewing using a web browser.
2. When you have located the image, right-click on it and select “Open With” followed by the name of your browser. It could be Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or any other browser that supports GIF.
3. You should be able to see the GIF image playing in the browser on your screen. In the following example I opened the GIF image in Safari and it works perfectly fine.
Use the Spacebar to Play an Animated GIF
If you don’t like using a web browser to view an animated GIF image, then you also have another way to view the image.
1. Locate the image you want to see playing on your Mac.
2. Single-click on it and press and hold the Space bar on your keyboard. For as long as the space bar key is held down, the GIF image will continue playing.
3. When you’re done viewing the image, let go of the Space bar key and the image viewer will be closed.
This method seems more appropriate to view GIF images but requires you to hold down the Space bar.
If the Preview app is not helping you view animated GIFs on your Mac, worry not, as you have alternative ways to view GIFs on your Mac without much hassle.