Gif support in Outlook

GIFs and Outlook: What Can We Do?


This post was updated on February 8, 2019 with information about GIF capabilities in Outlook. Read more.

So, you want to use a GIF in your next email marketing campaign? Nice! GIFs are an easy way of adding something fun to your campaigns. You know your target audience, you have your email developed, and now you must decide on the GIF itself with your graphic designer. The next problem facing you is email client support.

Which Email Clients Support GIFs?

Desktop Email ClientGIFs Supported?
Apple MailYES
Outlook 2003YES
Outlook 2007-2016NO
Outlook on OSXYES
Lotus Notes 8 & 8.5YES
Webmail ClientGIFs Supported?
Mobile Email ClientsGIFs Supported?
Android (Native App)YES
Android (Gmail App)YES
iPhone (Native App)YES
iPhone (Gmail App)YES

Outlook, the bane of email developers. Outlook desktop applications from 2007 onwards use Microsoft Word to render HTML emails. That’s the reason why that these clients tend to be so difficult to develop for, and why GIFs will only show the first frame.

An Alternative Solution for Outlook Subscribers

“Just make sure your call-to-action (CTA), or the most important information, is on the first frame of the GIF.”

Does this sound familiar?

Talk about limiting your options. For a few of you out there, this might not be a large concern, and you and your designer can work around it to provide something meaningful for Outlook subscribers. However, there is an alternative: Use conditional code to target both Outlook and all non-Outlook email clients.

It’s as simple as this:

<!--[if !mso]><!-->

<img class="outlookcomIMG" src="ANIMATED.gif">


<!--[if gte mso 9]>

<img src="STATIC.jpg">


The first of these snippets will treat your non-Outlook readers to the GIF experience. The second snippet will show a static image of your choice to your Outlook reader. This method allows for a more targeted experience without compromising the design or choice of GIF in your campaign.

Following this, the GIF-supported audience will receive this cute corgi image!

Corgi animated GIF

And your Outlook readers will get this adorable image instead:

Static corgi photo
Photo by Dave Crosby. 2004. Source: Wikipedia.


Yes, this is another step added to the process, but it will help you create a positive experience for every user. Rather than, “it will do because of the limitations,” why not offer something a little more personalized?

Update: GIFs May Be Coming to an Outlook Near You

In early 2019, Microsoft announced that it is rolling out GIF capabilities to its Office Insider group. The announcement explained how to add a GIF directly in the message using the “Insert > Online Pictures” function in Outlook. According to Designmodo, this feature works in Office 2010-2019 and Office 365.

We’ve heard some rumblings around the #emailgeeks community that GIFs are starting to appear in Outlook emails, and starting in early February, we started seeing a few ourselves! The January announcement from Microsoft focused only on adding GIFs to personal emails, but it appears the functionality may be rolling out to a wider audience.

All this certainly bodes well for the future of GIFs in Outlook. We’ll keep you posted with any new information we have.

How Will My GIFs Look in Email on Acid?

When testing your GIFs in Email on Acid, keep in mind that our previews are static images, so you won’t be able to see the animation as it would appear on a live device. Odds are the screen-capture process will grab them mid-animation, but rest assured this is perfectly normal. It means they’re animating just fine! If you use the conditional code above, you’ll see the Outlook previews showcasing the new image you chose for that specific audience.

Note: It looks like one of the international clients we offer previews for doesn’t support Outlook conditional comments! Be sure to note where your audiences are opening and use with caution. And, as always, test, test, test!


Don’t guess, test

Email clients are constantly changing, which is why it’s important to test your email every time; what worked yesterday might not work today. Email on Acid offers unlimited email testing on more than 70 clients and devices, so you can make sure your email looks good before it hits the inbox. Want to see for yourself? Take advantage of our free, seven-day trial.

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Author: Melanie Graham

Born and raised in New England, Melanie has a background as a writer, editor and journalist. After roaming the U.S. as an expert vagabond, she’s landed in Denver as Email on Acid’s content manager. She’s a music nerd at heart who loves spending time at the piano.

4 thoughts on “GIFs and Outlook: What Can We Do?”

    1. Hi Linda —
      It should go in the same area as the content you’re (essentially) replacing. Unfortunately, any variation on this code can cause it to break and may create double images. If you’re using Email on Acid to test, you’ll notice double images in the client, as that client does not support this fix.

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