How to use an animated GIF as a WeChat sticker
Do you have a funny animated GIF that you want to share with your friends on WeChat (aka Weixin), but don’t know how to add it to your WeChat stickers album? This article will tell you how to make it happen, so that pretty soon you’ll be rolling in animated kittens and Nicholas Cage images.
The bad news is that, at the time of writing, the iPhone version of WeChat doesn’t work properly – at least, not with regards to custom GIFs. So if you have an iPhone and an animation you need to share with the world, you’ll have to get a friend with another brand of phone to follow the instructions below. Once the image is on their phone, they can send it to you and you can save it by holding down on the image and selecting “Add to stickers”.
Something else to remember: you need to make sure the file is the right size. The official maximum size is 300KB, but files over 250KB may have issues. If the image you want to use looks like it should work, then skip to “Adding the GIF to WeChat”, below. Otherwise, read on.
Resizing a GIF image for WeChat
First of all, you’ll need to use special software to edit the GIF. There are many such editing programs available on the web; we chose Ulead GIF Animator (you can find a 15-day-long free trial version here), but you can use whatever works for you.
Ulead has a help section that will help you with most functions, but here are some tips for helping make the most of your image:
- You can change the speed at which the GIF animates by selecting all of the frames at the bottom of the screen (using shift or ctrl, as you would select multiple icons) and right-clicking, then selecting Frame Properties.
- Edit > Resize Image will help you shrink down the image, which in turn takes down the filesize. Make sure “keep aspect ratio” is ticked to avoid squeezing your image out of proportion.
- File > Optimization Wizard will let you reduce the file size at the expense of the quality of the gif. Changing the number of colors has obvious effects; lowering the dithering reduces the shading between two adjacent colors, which can make videos look blocky and smeary, but makes the file smaller accordingly.
- You can also lower the image’s size by deleting frames (click on them at the bottom of the screen – use shift or ctrl to select multiple options – and press delete on your keyboard to delete them). If you have removed frames between frames, you may need to change the GIF’s speed to compensate and stop it from looking too choppy.
- To test your GIF before adding it to your phone, load it in a web browser such as Chrome or Firefox; your OS’s built-in picture previewer may make it appear to move slower than it actually does.
Adding the GIF to WeChat
Once your GIF is ready to roll, transfer it to your smart phone. If you are having trouble transferring the file directly, you could try emailing it to yourself, then downloading it through your email app and saving it to your phone.
After it’s on your device, you need to access the My Stickers menu on your WeChat app. This differs from operating system to operating system and phone to phone. Two variations follow; others may exist for other operating systems so you may have to experiment:
One method is to open WeChat, tap the Me button at the bottom of the screen and, on the next screen (pictured below) tap the Sticker Gallery button – it should have a green smiley face and be somewhere under the Wallet button. You’ll be taken to the Sticker Gallery screen, from which you can buy new official sticker albums. Tap the cog in the top-right of the next screen to go to My Stickers.
The alternative method, if there is no Sticker Gallery option on your Me page, is to go into a chat and tap the small smiley-face button, the one that lets you select stickers to drop into conversations (see below). At the bottom of the screen, below the various stickers, you should see a row of small grey buttons, each with a character’s face on. These are used to flick between different sticker galleries. Swipe these buttons all the way to the left, until you see a cog. Tap the cog to go to My Stickers.
The My Stickers screen may freeze for a little bit if you are using an older phone and have a lot of sticker galleries, but eventually it should unfreeze. Swipe the menu down to the bottom until you see something like the below (you can also use this screen to re-download stickers you’ve already bought):
Tap Custom and you’ll be taken to the next screen. This varies in style depending on your brand of phone and WeChat version, but it should look something like the below (this image has been truncated, as the rest of it was just white space):
If you have already saved stickers to your account then they will appear in grey squares; if they fill up the entire screen then swipe down until you see the square containing the grey + symbol and tap it. You will now be shown a selection of the images in your phone, including – if you placed them in the right folder – your animated GIFs. Don’t worry if they have black backgrounds, or odd white pixels on them – they will probably look fine once in action. Tap the image you want to use.
You will then be taken to something like the next screen. Depending on your WeChat version, you may only have “back” and “OK” options, or you may be able to zoom in and rotate the image. Tap OK if you’ve selected the image you want.
You will then be returned to the previous screen, with the grey + symbol, now showing your new sticker. To add another, tap the + again and repeat the process. To delete any of the stickers, tap Edit in the top-right corner and then select the images you want to delete, then tape “Delete” at the bottom of the screen.
And that’s it – you’re done! Return to the chat screen to send your new stickers – depending on your version, the icon to access them will either be a folder with a smiley face on it, or a pink heart, like the one below:
Useful Chinese words and phrases