Switch keyboards on your phone. Have fun with Gboard by entering amazing animated GIFs to brighten up emails and messages.

Gboard is an alternative keyboard for your phone and it has some interesting features you might not expect, such as animated GIFs. Here’s how to send an animated GIF using Gmail and Gboard.

Although the keyboard that came with your phone is probably OK, it might not be the best one that is available. Alternative keyboards can be installed on Android and iOS devices and some of them offer fantastic features and better ways of typing.

Gboard is an alternative keyboard from Google that, among other features, enables you to enter not only letters, numbers and symbols, but also animated GIFs. It is weird, but true. It has a library of animated GIFs that you can call up and enter into emails and messages.

You can be typing an email and think, I’ll insert a high five just for fun, a thank-you, or a thumbs-up animation. A couple of taps and a brilliant animation is inserted into the message. It is a great feature, perhaps not for emailing your boss, but certainly your friends.

I will be using a Samsung Galaxy S6 for this, but Gboard is also available for the iPhone too.

Install Gboard

Google Gboard is in the Google Play Store, so fire up the Play Store app and search for it or click the link, you can install apps on your phone from your computer. Gboard is free.

Run the app after installing it and it will switch the phone or tablet from the current keyboard to Gboard. Don’t worry, this is not a permanent change and I will show you how to switch back at the end.

Create a new email

Now open Gmail and press the pencil button at the bottom of the screen to create a new email. After entering the recipient’s address, tap in the message body and you are ready to start entering your message with the new Gboard keyboard.

Enter the message

Position the cursor in the message body and then press the Emoji button on the keyboard. It is at the bottom, to the left of the spacebar.

 Gboard alternative keyboard for Android Gboard alternative keyboard for Android

Browse the GIFs

The emoji character keyboard is displayed and in the middle at the bottom of the screen is GIF. Press GIF and a row of animated GIF thumbnails appears.

The GIF categories are shown below the thumbnails and there are more than will fit on the screen. Swipe left and right over the categories to view them all and tap one to see the animated images it contains

Swipe left and right over the thumbnails to view the GIFs and then just tap one to insert it into the email.

 Gboard alternative keyboard for Android Gboard alternative keyboard for Android

Switch back to text mode or numbers/characters by pressing the ABC button and continue typing text into the message. You can return to the GIFs and insert another one if you want.

Tap the Send button at the top and your message is sent, complete with animated GIFs. This feature has no purpose other than to entertain. It's fun!

How to switch keyboards in Android

If you have installed one or more alternative keyboards on your Android phone or tablet, how do you switch from one to another? How do you get back to the original stock keyboard?

It isn’t hard and you just need to change a few input settings.

Open the Settings app and then press Language and input. Below you can see that the default keyboard is Gboard, which has replaced the standard Samsung one.

Press Default keyboard and then select a keyboard - Gboard is at the top and below is the Samsung keyboard.

 select the default keyboard in Android Set the input methods in Android

After selecting the keyboard, press SET UP INPUT METHODS and turn off Gboard with the switch.

To select the Gboard keyboard again, return to Default keyboard and press SET UP INPUT METHODS. Turn on Gboard. After enabling it as an input method, return to Default keyboard and Gboard can be selected as a keyboard.

It is basically the two screenshots above in reverse order.