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(Takes deep breath.) Guys. You may know what a gigantic pain in the ass it is to take a YouTube video and turn it into a passable GIF to share online. Well, you are going to fall in love with, and then want to to marry, and have children with, and grow old with From YouTube link into GIF in three easy steps. Just give yourself lots of time and lots of bandwidth.

Here is how it works.

Step 1. Enter a YouTube URL.

The user interface is straightforward. A big box asking for a URL. Put in a URL. We used this one, which shows a modification to the game Skyrim that changes all of the dragons into Thomas the Tank Engine.

Step 1a. Wait for a while. You will get used to this graphic:

Step 2. Customize.

There are four different settings you can adjust.

  1. The length of the clip. I isolated a small section of the middle of the clip. You can click the play button at left to see what you're editing.
  2. The size of the final GIF. For the sake of simplicity, you can pick one of four pre-selected sizes. At the very bottom of the page, in light type, tells you how big a file will result. We'll come back to this.
  3. The speed of the clip. allows you to slow down or speed up your clip as desired.
  4. Add a text overlay. Optional: you can add a caption. To enter the text, click where it says "Would you like a caption?"

Step 2a. Wait for a while.

Step 2b. Keep waiting.

Step 2c. Swear to God, it's actually doing something, just be patient. According to the site's Twitter account, it should take twice as long as the clip you're trying to render.

Step 3. Download your GIF.

And then — eventually — you are done! Click "download now." Put your GIF on your Tumblr or whatever. Here is ours. [Editor's note: This tank engine/dragon is actually Thomas's colleague James.] It is almost too perfect for this world.

The caveats.

The first and more important caveat is the one noted here repeatedly. This is not fast. Or, rather, it can often be fairly slow. At some points, it's pretty snappy; at others, it just seems to collapse until you give up in frustration. It's hard to tell which is which.

But the other caveat is that the resulting files are pretty huge. Other GIF creation tools allow you to do things like limit the number of colors displayed or introduce dithering to get file sizes smaller. With, you're trading that luxury for convenience, meaning that short, small GIFs that are bigger than three megabytes are common.

But the convenience! No more pulling a YouTube clip to your desktop, throwing it into a GIF creation tool, and tweaking the settings — a process that isn't exactly fast. does all of that for you. And if you can live with / don't care about the file size issue, you have a new best friend.

But you may not marry it. and I are already going steady.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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