Code Quality Rank: L5
Programming language: Swift
Tags: Media     GIF    
Latest version: v3.3

gifu alternatives and similar libraries

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Test GitHub release Carthage compatible Swift 5.0 platforms

Gifu adds protocol-based, performance-aware animated GIF support to UIKit. (It's also a prefecture in Japan).


Swift Package Manager

Add the following to your Package.swift file:

let package = Package(
    dependencies: [
    .package(url: "https://github.com/kaishin/Gifu.git", from: "3.2.2")


  • Add the following to your Cartfile: github "kaishin/Gifu"
  • Then run carthage update
  • Follow the current instructions in Carthage's README for up to date installation instructions.


  • Add the following to your Podfile: pod 'Gifu'
  • You will also need to make sure you're opting into using frameworks: use_frameworks!
  • Then run pod install with CocoaPods 0.36 or newer.

How It Works

Gifu does not require using the built-in GIFImageView subclass. The Animator class does the heavy-lifting, while the GIFAnimatable protocol exposes the functionality to the view classes that conform to it, using protocol extensions.

The Animator has a FrameStore that only keeps a limited number of frames in-memory, effectively creating a buffer for the animation without consuming all the available memory. This approach makes loading large GIFs a lot more resource-friendly.

The figure below summarizes how this works in practice. Given an image containing 10 frames, Gifu will load the current frame (red), buffer the next two frames in this example (orange), and empty up all the other frames to free up memory (gray):


There are two options that should cover any situation:

  • Use the built-in GIFImageView subclass if you don't need to combine GIF support with another image library.
  • If you need more flexibility and composability, make your class conform to GIFAnimatable. In practice, any UIView subclass would do, since you get most of the required properties for free. For best results, make your UIImageView subclass conform to GIFAnimatable to get access to other features such as intrinsic content size.


The bread and butter of Gifu. Through protocol extensions, GIFAnimatable exposes all the APIs of the library, and with very little boilerplate, any class can conform to it.

class MyImageView: UIImageView, GIFAnimatable {
  public lazy var animator: Animator? = {
    return Animator(withDelegate: self)

  override public func display(_ layer: CALayer) {

That's it. Now MyImageView has access to all these methods and properties:

  • prepareForAnimation(withGIFNamed:) and prepareForAnimation(withGIFData:) to prepare the animator property for animation.
  • startAnimatingGIF() and stopAnimatingGIF() to control the animation.
  • animate(withGIFNamed:) and animate(withGIFData:) to prepare for animation and start animating immediately.
  • frameCount, isAnimatingGIF, and activeFrame to inspect the GIF view.
  • prepareForReuse() to free up resources.
  • updateImageIfNeeded() to update the image property if necessary.

Furthermore, you can make any class GIF-animatable, starting with UIView subclasses:

class CustomAnimatedView: UIView, GIFAnimatable {
  public lazy var animator: Animator? = {
    return Animator(withDelegate: self)

  override public func display(_ layer: CALayer) {

You can also make UIKit classes conform using associated objects may you wish:

import UIKit
import Gifu

extension UIImageView: GIFAnimatable {
  private struct AssociatedKeys {
    static var AnimatorKey = "gifu.animator.key"

  override open func display(_ layer: CALayer) {

  public var animator: Animator? {
    get {
      guard let animator = objc_getAssociatedObject(self, &AssociatedKeys.AnimatorKey) as? Animator else {
        let animator = Animator(withDelegate: self)
        self.animator = animator
        return animator

      return animator

    set {
      objc_setAssociatedObject(self, &AssociatedKeys.AnimatorKey, newValue as Animator?, .OBJC_ASSOCIATION_RETAIN_NONATOMIC)


The simplest way to get started is initializing a GIFAnimatable class in code or in a storyboard, then calling animate(:) on it.

let imageView = GIFImageView(frame: CGRect(x: 0, y: 0, width: 200, height: 100))
imageView.animate(withGIFNamed: "mugen") {
  print("It's animating!")

You can also prepare for the animation when the view loads and only start animating after a user interaction.

// In your view controller..

override func viewDidLoad() {
  imageView.prepareForAnimation(withGIFNamed: "mugen") {
    print("Ready to animate!")

@IBAction func toggleAnimation(_ sender: AnyObject) {
  if imageView.isAnimatingGIF {
  } else {

If you are using a GIFAnimatable class in a table or collection view, you can call the prepareForReuse() method in your cell subclass:

override func prepareForReuse() {

Demo App

Clone or download the repository and open Gifu.xcworkspace to check out the demo app.


See the full API documentation.


  • iOS 9.0+
  • Swift 4.0
  • Xcode 9.0



*Note that all licence references and agreements mentioned in the gifu README section above are relevant to that project's source code only.