GIF stands for Graphics Interchange Format and is a format for raster graphics. It was developed in the 1980s by CompuServe.

Since 2006, the patent rights have expired so that it can be used freely. 

The format supports up to 8 bits per pixel and thus a colour depth of 265 colours. It is also possible to create animations.

For this purpose, several images (frames) are displayed one after the other with a time delay.

GIF images offers the possibility for a lossless compression, but only in a limited number of colors/pixels. Images with a higher color depth are thus compressed.


- Can store animated images

- allows transparency 


- lossy compression

- due to the small colour palette only suitable for graphics, but not for photos.

- Scaling means loss of quality

Alternatives: The free PNG format has been the ISO standard since 2004 and uses a lossless compression as well as a higher colour depth and is therefore better suited for graphics.