Apr 252015

Do animated gifs drive you potty?

Google Search - a doodle

The animated version of this gif prompted this blog post

I think it’s been a while since I adopted full-blown “grumpy old man” mode in these blogs, but I’m going for it this week because I’ve just encountered umpteen instances of one of the internet’s most annoying features – animated gifs. Thank you, Google (not). The trite, childish static images on the Google Search page are bad enough without assaulting our eyes and brains with animated gifs. The thing I find most confusing is that Google is widely reckoned to have succeeded over other search engines for the very reason that their search page is clean, uncluttered, and easy to use. Why undermine this with trivia unsuitable for anyone over seven years of age?

What is an animated gif? It’s a series of still images that vary slightly from each other and that can be shown in rapid succession, thereby giving the appearance of animation. All these separate images are contained in one single file called an animated gif. Typically, they are quite small files, so there’s not much “overhead” in displaying them on web pages. The animation that they show is usually of only a second or so’s duration before it repeats and repeats and …

In case you feel like me about animated gifs, you may wish to know how they can be stopped. Actually, there are two main things you can do about them. One is to stop them in their tracks so that they become slightly less annoying as static images and the other is to hide them entirely.

On my main machine I hide them entirely on www.google.co.uk when using my default browser (Firefox), but today I’ve been forcing myself to use my MacBook Pro, so I keep coming across today’s animated gif on Google Search in both Safari and Firefox on the Mac.

That might give you a hint as to how to stop them. Yes, it’s all down to your internet browser. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer actually has a built-in option that you can select to stop such animations. With other browsers you can install “add-ons” to “de-animate” gifs.

Here are example add-ons for the most important browsers:

Internet Explorer 11 - stopping animated gifs

With Internet Explorer 11, simply untick the circled box to stop the animation in animated gifs

Internet Explorer 11 – no add-on needed. Go to “Settings” (the cog wheel at top right), left-click on “Internet Options”, click on the “Advanced” tab, scroll down and untick “Play animations in webpages”. Note that you may have to re-boot for this to take effect.

Firefox – with Firefox loaded, go to this site for the Toggle Animated Gifs add-on and click on “add to Firefox”.

Chrome – with Chrome loaded, go to this site for the Gif Blocker add-on and click on “add to Chrome”. I tried several gif blockers for Chrome before I found this one. None of the others I tried worked. Note that this one doesn’t result in a static gif being displayed. Instead, it removes the gif altogether and lets you know what’s missing by placing the letters”gif” in the middle of a grey box.

Safari – with Safari loaded, go to this site for the Deanimator and clickdownload.

If you need a sample webpage that includes an animated gif, this dancing banana is as good (or bad) as any.

And how do you completely remove both static and animated gifs on the www.google.co.uk page?

Google Search Without Doodles

This is how I like Google Search to look

I do it with the add-on called AdBlock Plus. I’ve blogged about AdBlock Plus before.

To use AdBlock Plus to remove an image that isn’t recognised as an ad (in the following example the gifs and animated gifs on the Google search page), first install it and then go to the add-ons in your chosen browser (in my case, Firefox) and then:

  • Click on the Options button on Ad Block Plus
  • Click on Filter preferences
  • Click “Custom filters” tab
  • Add a filter group called “Ad Blocking Rules”
  • Add the following line as the rule and then ensure that “enabled” is ticked:
    ||google.co.uk/logos/doodles/2015/*
  • Close the “Add On manager” tab.

There you go, making cyberspace a bit more friendly for grumpy old men and women.

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Computer Support in London
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