Animated Gif in WPF using Windows Forms Control

Loading an animated gif into WPF has been a challenge since the version 1 release. WPF does not support loading an animated gifs directly into an declarative <Image> or by code, and hence developers have come out with various workarounds. Some use a raw technique – writing few lines of code which extracts the frames of the GIF and animate them.  One other way to do is using the <MediaElement> FrameworkElement which is in the namespace System.Windows.Controls. <MediaElement> wraps the MediaPlayer class for declarative use and hence it supports both audio and video files. Using MediaElement you can load the animated gif the following way:

<MediaElement Source="file://D:\anim.gif"/>

Remember it is important to use “file://” and an absolute path for loading the gif. So you cannot embed the image to a resource file and now you know one of the limitations of it. Every approach does have advantages and limitations of its own, its important to use the right approach based on the project needs.

Another possible way is by making the working Jack do the trick – Yeah I meant lets go back to Win Forms picture box to do the magic. We know PictureBox seamlessly loaded the animated gifs in Win Form days. Wait a minute did I say lets change the project from WPF to Win Forms? No I didn’t. What I said is lets integrate the PictureBox alone to the WPF project. To use the right word, I should say that we need to host the Windows Forms Control in WPF. To host a Windows Forms Control you need to make use of the class WindowsFormsHost which appears in the System.Windows.Forms.Integration namespace in assembly WindowsFormsIntegration.dll.

Lets get to the code. The first step to do is add a reference to System.Windows.Forms.dll and WindowsFormsIntegration.dll to your WPF based project.


Add the following namespaces to your XAML Code.

<Window x:Class="WpfApplication2.Window1"

Now you can host the PictureBox inside the WindowsFormsHost and set its Name.

            <winForms:PictureBox x:Name="pictureBoxLoading">

In your code behind(Window1.xaml.cs), add this code to the Window_Loaded Event:

private void Window_Loaded(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)
            this.pictureBoxLoading.Image = System.Drawing.Image.FromFile("anim.gif"); ;

Key points before execution:

  1. Make sure you provide the right path to load the image
  2. You can also load it from a resource file.

Since Windows Forms has several interesting built in controls that WPF lacks, using this technique you can make your favorite Windows Forms control work in WPF.


4 thoughts on “Animated Gif in WPF using Windows Forms Control

  1. The problem with this approach is that WindowsFormsHost will always be on top of WPF. If you have a grid that you want to scroll which is hosted in a TabControl, when scrolling, the WindowsFormsHost element will on top of all the parent WPF forms.

    If you do have it on a non scrollable form, then this approach is excellent and simple.

    This cannot be controlled with the zIndex.

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